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.”
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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.”
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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.”
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FDA Warns 14 Companies on Bogus Cancer ‘Cures’

WebMD, 25 April 2017
Author: Robert Preidt
“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday posted warning letters to 14 companies that are selling more than 65 fake cancer treatments. The bogus products include pills, capsules, powders, creams, teas, oils and treatment and diagnostic kits. They’re most commonly marketed and sold without FDA approval on websites and social media platforms, the FDA announcement of its action said. The treatments are frequently advertised as “natural” and often falsely labeled as dietary supplements, the agency added.”
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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.”
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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.”
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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.”
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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.”
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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.”
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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.”
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