National guidelines oppose push to allow parents to choose sex of IVF babies

SMH, 20 April 2017
Author: Kate Aubusson
“Australia’s peak medical council has knocked back a push to allow parents to choose the gender of their baby in new national guidelines. On Thursday, the NHMRC banned clinics from offering gender selection for non-medical purposes in its long-anticipated guidelines for assisted reproductive technologies (ART). But the National Health and Medical Research Council left the door open for future changes, suggesting sex selection may be ethical.”
Find article here.

New evidence in France of harm from epilepsy drug valproate

BBC, 21 April 2017
Source: BBC News
“A drug given to pregnant women for epilepsy and bipolar disorder caused “serious malformations” in up to 4,100 children, a French study suggests. Introduced in France in 1967, valproate is prescribed widely worldwide. Doctors in France are now advised not to give it to girls, women of childbearing age and pregnant women. Some families of children with birth defects born to women who took the drug while pregnant have sued Sanofi, saying that it did not adequately warn about the risks.”
Find article here.

GSK must pay $3 million in generic Paxil suicide lawsuit: U.S. jury

Reuters, 20 April 2017
Authors: Nate Raymond, Barbara Grzincic
“GlaxoSmithKline(GSK.L) must pay $3 million to a woman who sued the drug company over the death of her husband, a lawyer who committed suicide after taking a generic version of the antidepressant Paxil, a U.S. jury said on Thursday. A federal judge allowed the victim’s wife to proceed against GSK because it controlled the drug’s design and label, which applied to both the brand-name and generic versions of the drug.”
Find article here.

Pfizer subpoenaed in U.S. intravenous saline solution probe

Reuters, 19 April 2017
Author: Nate Raymond, Steve Orlofsky
“Pfizer Inc has received grand jury subpoenas from the U.S. Justice Department in connection with an antitrust investigation focusing on drugmakers that market intravenous saline solutions. The probe comes amid a shortage of intravenous saline solutions commonly used to hydrate hospital patients that dates back to late 2013, when drug companies began notifying hospitals that they might experience delivery delays. They said that since the shortage began, prices had risen 200 percent to 300 percent.”
Find article here.

AbbVie cancer drug fails two late-stage trials

Reuters, 19 April 2017
Authors: Divya Grover, Savio D’Souza, Bill Rigby
“AbbVie Inc experimental cancer drug, veliparib, failed to meet the main goals of two late-stage studies. The trials evaluated the effect of veliparib, in combination with a chemotherapy regimen, on patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and triple-negative breast cancer. In one trial, the combination treatment failed to improve the overall survival of NSCLC patients. In another trial, the drug did not achieve the complete pathologic response.”
Find article here.

From physician to felon: A doctor warns how easy it is to be bribed

Washington Post, 12 April 2017
Author: Lenny Bernstein
“In 2014, an internist pleaded guilty to one count of accepting a bribe. She accepted monthly payments of $5,000 to refer patients to Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services, for blood tests and other screenings. Such referrals are illegal in medicine because of the potential that doctors will put their financial interests ahead of the needs of their patients. To date, 29 doctors have been convicted in the multiyear investigation. The U.S. attorney’s office in New Jersey said the case involves more than $100 million paid to the testing lab by Medicare and private insurance companies.”
Find article here.

Doctor tells U.S. court drug not suitable for Arkansas executions

Reuters, 12 April 2017
Author: Steve Barnes
“A surgeon told a federal court in Arkansas on Wednesday that a sedative the state plans to use in its lethal injection mix is not suitable for surgery and should be prohibited when Arkansas holds an unprecedented series of executions later this month. Lawyers for Arkansas have told the court that the drug in question, midazolam, has been used in executions in other states and its lethal injection protocols pass constitutional muster. Major pharmaceutical companies have banned sales of powerful sedative to states for executions.”
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.

F.D.A. Will Allow 23andMe to Sell Genetic Tests for Disease Risk to Consumers

NYT, 6 April 2017
Author: Gina Kolata
“For the first time, the Food and Drug Administration said it would allow a company to sell genetic tests for disease risk directly to consumers, providing people with information about the likelihood that they could develop various conditions, including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. The move on Thursday is a turnaround for the agency, which had imposed a moratorium in 2013 on disease tests sold by 23andMe. The decision is expected to open the floodgates for more direct-to-consumer tests for disease risks, drawing a road map for other companies to do the same thing.”
Find article here.

Nurofen manufacturer Reckitt Benckiser fined $6 million for misleading customers after failed High Court appeal

ABC, 5 April 2016
Author: Amy Bainbridge
“The manufacturer of Nurofen has been ordered to pay a $6 million fine for misleading consumers with its specific pain relief range, after the High Court rejected its appeal. The Federal Court found the products were misleading because they all contained the same active ingredient and did the same thing, despite claims they targeted different parts of the body. The company was initially fined $1.7 million, but that was increased to $6 million after the consumer watchdog appealed.”
Find article here.