A Way to Brew Morphine Raises Concerns Over Regulation

NYT Health, 18 May 2015
Author: Donald McNeil Jr
“This rapid progress in synthetic biology has set off a debate about how — and whether — to regulate it. Dr. Oye and other experts said this week in a commentary in the journal Nature that drug-regulatory authorities were ill prepared to control a process that would benefit the heroin trade much more than the prescription painkiller industry. The world should take steps to head that off, they argue, by locking up the bioengineered yeast strains and restricting access to the DNA that would let drug cartels reproduce them.”
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Psychiatric drugs do more harm than good, says expert

The Guardian, 13 May 2015
Author: Sarah Boseley
“Psychiatric drugs do more harm than good and the use of most antidepressants and dementia drugs could be virtually stopped without causing harm. The views expressed in a British Medical Journal debate by Peter Gøtzsche, professor and director of the Nordic Cochrane Centre in Denmark, are strongly opposed by many experts in mental health. However, others say the debate around the use of psychiatric drugs is important and acknowledge that there has been overuse of antipsychotics to quieten aggressive patients with dementia.”
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Data Disclosure Leads Researchers to End Study of Obesity Drug

NYT Health, 12 May 2015
Author: Andrew Pollack
“A study of an obesity drug has ended after the manufacturer released early and ultimately misleading data, researchers said on Tuesday. The company, Orexigen Therapeutics, disclosed in March that early results from a clinical trial of its drug Contrave had shown a 41 percent reduction in the risk of heart attacks, strokes and death from cardiovascular causes. Orexigen’s stock shot up, and the information no doubt helped lift sales of Contrave.”
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US health panel backs Vertex combination pill to treat cystic fibrosis despite questions

The China Post, 14 May 2015
Author: Matthew Perrone
“Federal health advisers on Tuesday recommended approval for an experimental combination drug to treat cystic fibrosis, despite unresolved questions about the benefit of one of the pill’s two ingredients.”
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Study finds numerous drug combinations sold in India lack regulatory approval

Reuters, 12 May 2015
Author: Zeba Siddiqui
“Almost two-thirds of the drug combinations widely sold in India to fight pain, depression, and psychotic conditions lack the necessary regulatory approvals, despite some of the pills being banned internationally, a study published on Tuesday shows. India’s reputation as a reliable supplier of cheap generic medicines has taken a hit after sanctions by the United States and Britain faced by some of its largest drugmakers over violations of standard drug-making practices.”
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EMA will restrict experts’ role in drug assessment if they plan to work for industry

BMJ 2015;350:h2436
Author: Abi Rimmer
“The European Medicines Agency has said that it will restrict the involvement of experts in the scientific assessment of drugs if they plan to take up a job in the pharmaceutical industry. The change is part of an update to the agency’s rules on declarations of interests…”
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Two psychiatrists who took speaker fees from drug firm resign from Texan hospital

BMJ 2015;350:h2408
Author: Owen Dyer
“Two psychiatrists have abruptly resigned from a Texas state hospital after learning that they faced disciplinary action for accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars from AstraZeneca while promoting the company’s drug Seroquel XR (extended release quetiapine fumarate) to state officials.”
Find extract here.