New drugs on the PBS: what they do and why we need them

The Conversation, 4 May 2017
Author: Nial Wheate
“This week, the government announced the latest additions, amendments, and deletions from the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS): the program through which essential medicines are subsidised for Australian patients. Listing on the PBS is different to a drug being approved for sale by Australia’s drug regulator. Once approved by the TGA, it is available to patients and hospitals at the full price. It only becomes subsidised if later listed on the PBS. Some of the notable additions to the list include drugs to treat eye infections, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), cystic fibrosis, multiple sclerosis, cancer, and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.”
Find article here.

Doctors reject changes on generic drugs which could save almost $2 billion

ABC News, 2 May 2017
Author: Andrew Probyn
“Australians will increasingly find themselves prescribed generic drugs rather than the big-name brands, under changes to be unveiled in next week’s budget. It is understood that the Government intends to change the prescribing software used by doctors, with the default setting switched to the active ingredient. GPs would still be able to prescribe particular brands but under the new “opt out” regime, they would have to actively nominate a drug other than the generic name.”
Find article here.

‘I went to the web to find a new kidney’

BBC, 1 May 2017
Author: Lesley Curwen
“A growing number of UK patients have bypassed the traditional NHS system of organ allocation, instead harnessing the power of the internet to find their own. Transplant doctors fear this development could result in an unsavoury competition to attract donors online, in what some have called an “organ beauty pageant”. And they worry that it rips up the traditional health service ethos of equal access to treatment for all.”
Find article here.

Brexit regulatory uncertainty ‘threatens UK med tech’

Reuters, 2 May 2017
Authors: Ben Hirschler, Susan Fenton
“Regulatory uncertainty in the wake of Brexit could leave Britain’s multi-billion-pound medical technology industry out in the cold, with separate regulatory systems threatening exports and jobs. In a new report, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IME) called on the British government to harmonize its post-Brexit rules with EU regulations on medical devices – a category covering everything from heart stents to walking aids – or risk losing billions of pounds in exports.”
Find article here.

Louisiana proposes tapping a century-old patent law to cut hepatitis C drug prices

Washington Post, 2 May 2017
Authors: Sarah Jane, Tribble Kaiser
“Continuing public concerns over high-priced hepatitis C drugs are taking a new twist as Louisiana’s top health official proposes using an obscure federal patent law to get the medicines at a much lower cost. If successful, other states could reap the benefits. Covering treatment for the 35,000 uninsured and Medicaid-dependent residents with hepatitis C would cost the state $764 million given current drug costs.”
Find article here.

ACCC accuses Ramsay Health of threatening doctos

SMH, 1 May 2017
Authors: Mathew Dunckley, Georgia Wilkins
“The nation’s largest private hospital company, Ramsay Health Care, and specifically its Australian chief executive, stand accused of threatening doctors after they moved to set up a competing clinic. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission on Monday launched federal court action against Ramsay claiming the company had heavied local surgeons at Coffs Harbour who were considering opening their own clinic.”
Find article here.

The multi-billion-dollar subsidy for private health insurance isn’t worth it

The Conversation, 27 April 2017
Author: Elizabeth Savage
“Almost 20 years after the 30% subsidy for private health insurance was introduced, premiums continue to rise every year. This comes at a cost to the federal budget – which was forecast at A$6.5 billion in the 2016 federal budget from the subsidy alone. Meanwhile, consumers continue to view private health insurance as poor value for money. It would be sensible for the government to face evidence the subsidy is bad and costly policy, as health bureaucrats and commentators predicted long ago.”
Find article here.

Gorsuch On Sidelines As Supreme Court Decides Insurance, Legal Sanctions Cases

Forbes, 18 April 2017
Author: Daniel Fisher
“The U.S. Supreme Court issued a pair of decisions today affecting legal sanctions and the power of states to control insurance contracts, noting in each one the non-participation of the court’s newest Justice, Neil Gorsuch.”
Find article here.

Smithfield makes move on market for pig-human transplants

Reuters, 12 April 2017
Authors: Julie Steenhuysen, Michael Hirtzer
“Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork producer, has established a separate bioscience unit to expand its role in supplying pig parts for medical uses, with the ultimate goal of selling pig organs for transplantation into humans. Recent scientific advances for using pigs as a supply of replacement parts for sick or injured people, makes it an attractive new market. Transplants from animals could help close a critical gap to help those in need.”
Find article here.

‘Gamechanging’ cancer drug rejected for use on NHS

The Guardian, 11 April 2017
Author: Sarah Boseley
“A ‘gamechanging’ immunotherapy drug that can extend the life of patients with advanced head and neck cancer has been turned down for use in the NHS because of its high cost. Although nivolumab drug can give people with advanced head and neck cancers an extra three months of life, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) has rejected it. Nice believes nivolumab would cost between £66,000 to £75,000 per year of quality life.”
Find article here.