Only Government Intervention Can Fix Market For Antibiotics, WHO Warns
Without government intervention, the United Nations estimates that resistant infections could kill 10 million people annually by 2050. “We urgently need research and development,” said Sarah Paulin, of WHO. “We still have a window of opportunity but we need to ensure there is investment now so we don’t run out of options for future generations.” In other pharmaceutical news: generic prices, updates on the Chris Collins insider trading case, CAR-T therapy, Medicare programs, and drug recalls.
The New York Times:
W.H.O. Warns That Pipeline For New Antibiotics Is Running Dry
With the pipeline for new antibiotics slowing to a trickle and bankruptcies driving pharmaceutical companies from the field, the World Health Organization on Friday issued a fresh warning about the global threat of drug resistant infections. Some 700,000 people die each year because medicines that once cured their conditions are no long effective. Yet the vast majority of the 60 new antimicrobial products in development worldwide are variations on existing therapies, and only a handful target the most dangerous drug-resistant infections, the agency said in a report. (Jacobs, 1/17)
Generic Version Of Pricey MS Treatment Didn't Reduce Drug Costs Much For Patients
Sometimes, the approval of a new generic drug offers more hype than hope for patients' wallets, as people with multiple sclerosis know all too well. New research shows just how little the introduction of a generic version of Copaxone — one of the most popular MS drugs — did to lower their medicine costs. MS is an autoimmune disease that gradually damages the central nervous system, disrupting communication between the brain and the rest of the body. (Lupkin, 1/20)
Former Rep. Chris Collins Sentenced To 26 Months In Prison In Biotech Insider Trading Scheme
Chris Collins, a former Republican lawmaker and longtime ally of President Trump, was sentenced Friday to 26 months in prison, according to local reporters, months after pleading guilty to insider trading for illegal dealings surrounding an Australian biotech company. Collins, who leaked confidential information about a failed drug trial to his son and other associates, resigned his seat in Congress in October after entering a guilty plea. His sentencing caps a three-year saga that also implicated his family, at least four fellow congressmen, and Trump’s onetime health secretary. All have been dogged by allegations that they acted unethically, and in some cases illegally, when they purchased or sold shares of Innate Immunotherapeutics. (Garde and Facher, 1/17)
Tweaking How CAR-T Therapy Kills Tumors Could Stop A Dangerous Side Effect, Study Finds
As every trauma surgeon knows, there are messy bullet wounds and there are neat ones, and the former cause incomparably more trouble. If a team of scientists in China is right, the same principle may explain why the genetically engineered CAR-T cells that have been so successful against some leukemias and lymphomas often cause a violent and even life-threatening immune reaction. The problem, the researchers reported on Friday, is that CAR-Ts attack and kill cancer cells in the messiest way biologists have ever seen. (Begley, 1/17)
The New York Times:
Medicare’s Part D Doughnut Hole Has Closed! Mostly. Sorta.
With the new decade comes this long-awaited milestone: the Medicare Part D doughnut hole has closed. Two cheers. More than 61 million Americans are Medicare beneficiaries, and about 46 million of those are enrolled in Part D. The doughnut hole, more formally called the coverage gap, has been one of Part D’s more detested features since the drug benefit took effect in 2006. (Span, 1/17)
MedPAC: 340B Hospitals Don't Use More Expensive Drugs
The 340B Drug Pricing Program doesn't create strong incentives for participating hospitals to use more expensive drugs, according to new federal research. Hospitals that participate in the 340B program spend about $300 more on drugs for prostate and lung cancers, but not breast, colorectal or leukemia-lymphoma cancers, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission's staff said at a meeting on Thursday. The higher spending at 340B hospitals seems to be driven by the type of cancer that people are treated for rather than 340B's financial incentives. (Brady, 1/17)
Your Heartburn Drug Has Been Recalled. Now What?
Recent recalls of popular antacids — including Zantac and its generic version, ranitidine, as well as another drug, nizatidine — have left empty spots on pharmacy shelves. But they may remain in your medicine cabinet. Here's what you need to know. (Edwards, 1/19)