Exclusive: Canada seeks warnings on prescription painkillers amid rising deaths

Reuters, 23 January 2017
Author: Anna Mehler Paperny
“As deaths from powerful painkillers continue to rise, Canada is pursuing unprecedented measures to curb their use, including requiring cigarette-style warning stickers on every prescription, Health Minister Jane Philpott told Reuters.”
Find article here.

Letting Seriously Ill Patients Try Drugs Whose Safety, Efficacy Hasn’t Been Proven Could Be Deadly

Forbes, 20 January 2017
Author: Rita Rubin
“The new FDA report, released practically on the eve of President Donald Trump’s inauguration, challenges critics who want to make drugs available to patients as soon as possible. It includes several examples of drugs and vaccines that had a favorable effect on biomarkers–measurable indicators of health, such as blood cholesterol levels–but did not improve symptoms or reduce the risk of a disease.”
Find article here.

Drugmakers Manipulate Orphan Drug Rules To Create Prized Monopolies

Kaiser Health News, 17 January 2017
Author: Sarah Jane Tribble and Sydney Lupkin
“A Kaiser Health News investigation shows that the system intended to help desperate patients is being manipulated by drugmakers to maximize profits and to protect niche markets for medicines already being taken by millions. The companies aren’t breaking the law but they are using the Orphan Drug Act to their advantage in ways that its architects say they didn’t foresee or intend. Today, many orphan medicines, originally developed to treat diseases affecting fewer than 200,000 people, come with astronomical price tags.”
Find article here.

Direct-to-consumer advertising of success rates for medically assisted reproduction: a review of national clinic websites

BMJ Open 2017; 7:e012218.
Authors: Wilkinson J, Vail A, Roberts SA
“Direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs is permitted only in the USA and New Zealand. However, concerns that direct advertising drives demand for more expensive, rather than more effective, treatments do not extend to bans on direct advertising of other medical practices.”
Find article here.

Novartis is under investigation for allegedly bribing thousands of Greek doctors

BMJ 2017; 356:j130
Author: Owen Dyer
“Greece’s financial police have raided the Athens headquarters of Novartis, and a team of agents from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation have flown in to study seized company records, as part of an expanding probe into claims that the drug company has bribed over 4000 Greek doctors to prescribe or support the reimbursement of its drugs.”
Find article here.

Doctor who prescribes lethal drugs to dying patients ‘not a risk to public’

SMH, 20 December 2016
Author: Julia Medew
“A Melbourne doctor who has given scores of sick people a lethal drug has won a fight against the medical board, with a tribunal ruling his practise is consistent with other forms of palliative care.”
Find article here.

Drugmakers await FDA guidance on ‘off-label’ uses of medicines

The Hill, 19 December 2016
Author: Sarah Chacko
“Doctors commonly prescribe drugs to treat conditions the medications weren’t designed for, but for drugmakers, discussing such “off-label” uses can lead to trouble. As a result, drugmakers have been pushing both the Food and Drug Administration and lawmakers to draw clearer lines around communicating about unapproved uses of their products, particularly since it affects what companies can tell insurers. Such information is used to negotiate prices for covered medical products and their place in certain payment models.”
Find article here.

Morality and non-medical drug use

BMJ 2016; 355:i5850
Author: A C Grayling
“Conservative moral attitudes are fruitful in causing social problems. The question of the use of drugs such as cannabis and heroin is a prime illustration of this fact. Arguably, neither the use nor the misuse of mind altering substances is a moral problem, though both, and especially misuse, can cause practical problems. But if in addition their use is criminalised, those problems are exacerbated and the cost to society balloons.”
Find article here.