FDA moves to prevent Pharma from ‘gaming’ generic drug system

Reuters, 21 June 2017
Author: Toni Clarke
“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration moved on Wednesday to prevent pharmaceutical companies from “gaming” the system to block or delay entry of generic rivals. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a blog post that the agency plans to hold a public meeting on July 18 to identify ways pharmaceutical companies are using FDA rules to place obstacles in the way of generic competition. The move comes as the President and lawmakers in Congress search for ways to lower the cost of prescription drugs.”
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A Clinic Mix-Up Leaves Pregnant Woman In Dark About Zika Risk

KHN, 21 June 2017
Author: Jonel Aleccia
“Hospital officials in Washington state have apologized after failing for months to inform a pregnant woman she was likely infected with the Zika virus that can cause devastating birth defects. Andrea Pardo was tested for the virus in October, after becoming pregnant while living in Mexico. The results were ready by December, but she wasn’t notified until April just before she delivered her daughter. The delay, blamed on a mistake at the University of Washington clinic where Pardo received care, deprived her of the chance to make an informed choice about her pregnancy.”
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No evidence that $40,000 ‘miracle’ drug cures hepatitis C

Daily Mail, 9 June 2017
Author: Cheyenne Roundtree
“A medicine hailed as a ‘miracle’ drug that could eliminate hepatitis C may not actually cure the disease, a study claims. Sick patients were offered hope with a new $40,000 direct-acting antiviral drug, which boasted it could clear the virus from the blood within 12 weeks.
The staggering price of the medicine was worth it to some because the contagious liver disease can lead to cancer and death. Now researchers claim that although the drug may rid the blood of the virus there is no valid evidence that it completely rids the body of the infection.”
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Pfizer, Roche and Aspen face South African probe into cancer drug prices

Reuters, 14 June 2017
Authors: Paul Arnold, Tiisetso Motsoeneng
“South Africa’s competition watchdog has launched an investigation into three drug companies accused of over-charging for cancer medicines, the agency’s chief said on Tuesday. The Commission, which investigates cases before bringing them to the Competition Tribunal for adjudication, said it suspected the lung cancer treatment xalkori crizotinib sold by Pfizer had been excessively priced as has the breast cancer drugs Herceptin and Herclon sold by Roche. It Commission also would look into whether Aspen might have over-charged for Leukeran, Alkeran and Myleran cancer treatments in South Africa.”
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Our so-called ‘universal’ healthcare: the well waste money and the poor get sicker

The Guardian, 11 June 2017
Author: Amy Corderoy
“The waste of wellness dollars is an ethical issue when health inequality in Australia is a life-or-death issue. While the worried well shell out great amounts stockpiling placebos, the poor get sicker. What if all those billions of dollars were poured into some real wellness? Perhaps along with our tobacco tax, we need to introduce a snake-oil tax as well. We need to start thinking of this waste of wellness dollars as an ethical issue. Because the money is needed elsewhere. And desperately.”
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After-hours GP home visits strain the budget (and don’t help emergency departments)

The Conversation, 1 June 2017
Authors: Barbara de Graaff and Mark Nelson
“After-hours home medical services are a burden on our health budget and don’t ease the strain on emergency departments after all, new research shows. The roll out of after-hours GP-type home visits is linked with as much as a ten-fold increase in Medicare claims in one jurisdiction. And rather than reducing the need to visit the emergency department, their rise in popularity has been accompanied by a slight increase in visits. These findings published today in the Australian Family Physician journal, question whether these convenient house calls are really the best use of taxpayers’ money.”
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ACCC takes health insurer to court

Herald Sun, 30 May 2017
Author: Stuart Condie
“The consumer watchdog has launched legal action against Nib over allegations the health insurer failed to tell customers they were suddenly liable for some out-of-pocket costs. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission on Tuesday said it believed Nib contravened Australian Consumer Law in 2015. At the time, the health insurer failed to give its members advance notice of a decision to remove certain eye procedures from a program where the ­insurer paid gap amounts to doctors. Elderly patients were among those most affected, the watchdog said.”
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Two Medicare Advantage Insurers Settle Whistleblower Lawsuit For $32 Million

KHN, 30 May 2017
Author: Fred Schulte
“Two Florida Medicare Advantage insurers have agreed to pay nearly $32 million to settle a whistleblower lawsuit that alleged they exaggerated how sick patients were and took other steps to overbill the government health plan for the elderly.”
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Abbott, Novartis and Sanofi Targeted in NPPA Clampdown on Drugs Sold Without Price Approval

RAPS, 23 May 2017
Author: Nick Paul Taylor
“The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) of India is taking action against drugmakers including Abbott, GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis and Sanofi. These top pharmaceutical firms allegedly introduced drugs without seeking price approval and may have to pay back what they overcharged. In a letter to the companies the director of enforcement at NPPA, accused the businesses of altering scheduled formulations, either by changing the dose or combining the drug with a non-scheduled medicine. To NPPA, such changes represent the introduction of new drugs. As such, the companies should have obtained approval from NPPA for the prices of their new products before introducing them to the market.”
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Alzheimer’s Deaths Jump 55 Percent: CDC

WebMD, 25 May 2017
Author: Steven Reinberg
“As more baby boomers age, deaths from Alzheimer’s disease have jumped 55 percent, and in a quarter of those cases the heavy burden of caregiving has fallen on loved ones, U.S. health officials report. “Alzheimer’s disease is a public health problem that affects not only people with Alzheimer’s disease, but also the people who provide care to them, which is often family members,” said report author Christopher Taylor.”
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