When Checks And Balances In The Pharmaceutical Marketplace Fall Short
The Washington Post explores how a trio of very expensive anemia drugs became "superstars" in the marketplace. Also, The Wall Street Journal tracks the process by which certain fake cancer drugs found their way into the United States.
The Washington Post: Anemia Drugs Made Billions, But At What Cost?
For years, a trio of anemia drugs known as Epogen, Procrit and Aranesp ranked among the best-selling prescription drugs in the United States. … Even compared with other pharmaceutical successes, they were superstars. For several years, Epogen ranked as the single costliest medicine under Medicare: U.S. taxpayers put up as much as $3 billion a year for the drugs. The trouble … is that for about two decades, the benefits of the drug -- including "life satisfaction and happiness" according to the FDA-approved label -- were wildly overstated, and potentially lethal side effects, such as cancer and strokes, were overlooked (Whoriskey, 7/19).
The Wall Street Journal: How Fake Cancer Drugs Entered U.S.
From the outskirts of Winnipeg, Kris Thorkelson's Canada Drugs grew to become a vital link for American consumers stung by high drug prices. The Internet pharmacy had by the middle part of the last decade filled millions of U.S. prescriptions with low-cost, Canadian supplies of everything from Pfizer Inc.'s cholesterol pill Lipitor to GlaxoSmithKline PLC's asthma treatment Advair. But as Mr. Thorkelson's company grew into a larger enterprise spanning three continents, so did the risks of counterfeit drugs. In the final months of 2011, companies controlled by Mr. Thorkelson's Canada Drugs Group of Cos. sold two batches of fake Avastin, a cancer drug, to U.S. doctors (Weaver and Whalen, 7/19).