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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Merck & Co. Halts Enrollment in Two Keytruda Trials, Citing Deaths

GEN, 13 June 2017
Source: Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News
“Merck & Co. said it has stopped enrollment in two Phase III trials assessing its cancer immunotherapy Keytruda® (pembrolizumab) in combination with other therapies to treat multiple myeloma, following reports of patient deaths. Patients currently enrolled in the two studies will continue to receive treatment, Merck said, adding that its other clinical studies of Keytruda will continue unchanged.”
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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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Women urged to speak up on painful transvaginal mesh implant side effects

ABC, 31 May 2017
Author: Sophie Scott and Alison Branley
“The number of women who have experienced catastrophic side effects from a medical device used to treat prolapse after childbirth is likely to be higher than expected, experts fear. A Victorian health consumer group has conducted the first comprehensive survey of Australian women who have been treated with transvaginal mesh implants and they have received more than 1,850 responses in just six weeks, with more than 750 women saying they have had adverse effects. Reported problems from the device include incontinence, severe chronic pain, problems walking, painful intercourse and even marital breakdown.The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care is now reviewing the use of the implants.”
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Valium recall: Worker sacked over Roche diazepam tampering

ABC News, 31 May 2017
Source: ABC News
“A worker has been sacked after the TGA issued a nation-wide recall of Roche Products’ diazepam, because the relaxant had been swapped out for different drugs at a Sydney distribution centre. Roche said the incident occurred at a distribution centre, and this afternoon, Symbion Contract Logistics released a statement saying they had sacked a worker at its Sydney-based distribution facility.”
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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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Modi’s generics-only drugs plan worries health experts, Indian pharma sector

Reuters, 25 May 2017
Author: Zeba Siddiqui
“India’s plan to bring in a law to ensure doctors prescribe medicines only by their generic names risks proliferating the sale of substandard drugs in a country where regulation is already lax, doctors and pharmaceutical executives say. Prime Minister said last month that the government was looking at such a law to improve affordability of medicines in the country of 1.2 billion people. Pharmaceutical executives said any law would have to stipulate that the drugs consumers get from pharmacists meet certain quality standards.”
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Many patients with early-stage breast cancer receive costly, inappropriate testing

EurekAlert, 24 May 2017
Author: Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
“A study from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center shows that asymptomatic women who have been treated for early-stage breast cancer often undergo advanced imaging and other tests that provide little if any medical benefit, could have harmful effects and may increase their financial burden.”
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Ethics Survey: Drug testing remains a clinical tug of war

Behavioural Net, 18 May 2017
Author: Julie Miller
“In recent weeks, the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) prepared comprehensive guidelines on drug testing within the continuum of care. The goal is to present evidence-based recommendations for the frequency and application of testing, which payers and providers can adopt as best practices. It’s significant because up until now, there was no true consensus. And there’s also no denying that some treatment operators have aimed to maximize their profit streams through the overuse of testing and subsequent billing of insurance companies.”
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In Bold Move, FDA Approves Cancer Drug For Any Advanced Tumor With Genetic Changes

Forbes, 23 May 2017
Author: Elaine Schattner
“For the first time, the FDA has approved a drug for use in cancer—of any type—that harbors certain molecular features. Merck’s Keytruda, an immune oncology drug, may be prescribed for any resistant, metastatic tumor with microsatellite instability (MSI) or other evidence for defective DNA mismatch repair. This is good news for patientsby trying this medication if they have advanced cancer of any form with pathological MSI or DNA mismatch repair defects.”
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