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Right now, it can takes weeks to see if an anti-depressant is effective. And if it’s not, the patient is stuck back at square one.
“Prescription drug information is highly personal information—it can tell if someone has cancer, if they have a sexually transmitted disease,” said Julie Roth, a health care regulatory attorney. Meanwhile, experts say the deal should act as a wake-up call to the rest of the industry that other companies need to step up their game on customer experience.
In other news on the pharmaceutical industry, Acceleron experimental blood disease drug hits goal, conflicts of interest of top policy expert often goes undisclosed, and pharmacies face a shortage of more effective shingles vaccine through 2018.
Not all of the cases were related to the opioid crisis, but the Justice Department emphasized the crackdown on people it says are contributing to the epidemic, including doctors running “pill mills.”
Amazon announced that it is buying PillPack, which sells pre-sorted packets of prescriptions drugs, delivering them to customers in their homes. The news seemed to be a confirmation of the worst fears of some in the industry — that Amazon is going to make an aggressive play for a chunk of the pharmacy business. But actually disrupting the health care industry will be a challenge.
The pharmaceutical industry has argued that once the Food and Drug Administration approves product labeling, a drugmaker cannot be sued in state court for failing to warn about risks.
In 2016, drugmakers spent $15.8 million to pay doctors for speaking, consulting, meals and travel related to opioid drugs. That was down 33 percent from $23.7 million in 2015 and is 21 percent less than the $19.9 million in spent in 2014. Meanwhile, federal regulators want internet companies to take a bigger role in fighting the epidemic.
Massachusetts wanted to exclude some drugs from coverage under its Medicaid program — a common negotiating tactic for private insurers looking to avoid paying for costly therapies. The Trump administration decided that the proposal goes too far, handing the pharmaceutical industry a win.
Opinion pages focus on these and other health issues.
The drug, Epidiolex, is used to treat seizures in a very small population with a rare form of epilepsy. It does not create a high for patients.
“Biosimilars foster competition and can lower the cost of biologic treatments for patients,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. “Yet the market for these products is not advancing as quickly as I hoped.”
Dr. Atul Gawande will be heading up the health care initiative formed by Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase that’s geared toward starving the “tapeworm on the American economy.” While many people’s attention is focused on skyrocketing drug prices, Gawande says that is just 10 percent” of total U.S. healthcare spending.
It was shown to be only slightly better than the old one. But baby steps are still forward movement, experts say. In other news on vaccinations: there’s a national shortage on the shingles vaccine; an experimental therapy for type 1 diabetes shows some early stages of success; and officials warn about hot spots for diseases where vaccination rates lag.
“Companies cannot be NGOs,” Brainstorm CEO Chaim Lebovits said. “We have to have an incentive.” Health insurers don’t typically pay for treatments that haven’t been approved by regulators or proven to work in clinical trials. That means patients would have to pay for the therapies, which could reach into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, out of their own pockets.
Read recent commentaries about drug-cost issues.
News outlets report on stories related to pharmaceutical pricing.
“I have spent my life wanting to make a real change in this disease. Finally, we may be there. I am very hopeful. This is an emotional time for people in the field,” said Dr. Jerry Mendell of Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.
Drugstores and other retailers have been pushing more services such as this in recent years to hold Amazon.com at bay.
Opinion pages look at these and other health issues.
Police departments are left throwing away the auto-injectors because they couldn’t use them fast enough. “You might as well begin filling out the paperwork [right away] to get them replaced,” said Sgt. Robert Parsons. In other news on the national addiction epidemic: the White House drug office, opioid bills in Congress, first responders, and more.