KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

Global Activists To Challenge Patents On Breakthrough Hep C Drugs Due to Price

Other health reporters examine the cancer risks related to dense breasts, improper gluten-free labeling on probiotics and its risks to those with celiac disease, stablizing metabolic syndrome rates and the possible overuse of an asthma drug.

The New York Times: High Cost Of Hepatitis C Drug Prompts A Call To Void Its Patents
Activists in several countries are seeking to void patents on the blockbuster hepatitis C drug Sovaldi, saying that the price being sought by the manufacturer, Gilead Sciences, was prohibitive. ... The actions are a sign that the controversy over Sovaldi is spreading beyond the United States, where the $84,000 charge for a course of treatment has strained Medicaid budgets, to middle-income countries. (Pollack, 5/19)

NPR: Dense Breasts Are Just One Part Of The Cancer Risk Calculus
Almost half the states now require doctors to tell women if they have dense breasts because they're at higher risk of breast cancer, and those cancers are harder to find. But not all women with dense breasts have the same risks, a study says. Those differences need to be taken into account when figuring out each woman's risk of breast cancer, the study says, and also weighed against other factors, including family history, age and ethnicity. (Shute, 5/19)

The New York Times: Many Probiotics Taken For Celiac Disease Contain Gluten
More than half of the top-selling probiotic supplements they analyzed contained gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye that is harmful to people with celiac disease. The authors of the study found gluten in probiotic supplements that carried “gluten-free” claims on their labels, and they discovered that the most expensive supplements were just as likely to contain gluten as the cheapest products. ... The new findings are a symptom of what experts say is a larger problem in the $33-billion-a-year supplement industry. Several large studies and law enforcement investigations in the last two years have suggested that supplements often do not contain what their labels claim. The industry is loosely regulated, and the Food and Drug Administration has said that two thirds of companies do not comply with a basic set of good manufacturing practices. (O'Connor, 5/19)

Reuters: Metabolic Syndrome Common But Rates Stable Among U.S. Adults
About a third of U.S. adults have a collection of risk factors that increases their risk of heart disease and strokes, according to new research. While previous studies found an increasing prevalence of so-called metabolic syndrome among U.S. adults, researchers report in JAMA that rates remained mostly stable between 2008 and 2012. (Doyle, 5/19)

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