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Selected news articles which highlight important policy issues.

News: Weekly Archives

News for the week of 09-23-2006

Target Offers Cheap Drugs Too
The Miami Herald, 9-23-06

Editor's Notes:

Following Wal-Mart's lead, Target has announced that it will offer hundreds of generic prescription drugs at $4 for a thirty–day supply. These announcements, by two of America’s leading retailers, underscore the reality that the U.S. has the most robust price competition in the world between branded and generic drugs—a competition that, by all measures is set to intensify in the next several years some of the industry's leading blockbuster drugs go off–patent.

On Thursday, Wal–Mart shocked the retail industry by saying it would offer 30–day supplies of 291 generic drugs for $4 in Tampa immediately, expand to the rest of Florida on Jan. 1 and then roll it out to the rest of the nation.

Target, the nation's No. 2 discounter behind Wal–Mart, said it planned to copy its rival, but its news release issued late Thursday evening mentioned only the Tampa area. The Minneapolis–based company didn't respond to The Miami Herald's question on Friday about whether it would match the $4 price elsewhere in Florida.

But Hastings said he believed it inevitable that not only Target, but also Walgreens and CVS would follow Wal–Mart's lead nationwide. "They're capable of doing that," said Hastings, without hurting their bottom line.

[permanent link]

FDA Told U.S Drug System Is Broken
Washington Post, 9-23-06

Editor's Notes:

The Institute of Medicine released the results of a two year study into of FDA's drug safety programs—and the findings have been interpreted as a scathing indictment of the agency.

The federal system for approving and regulating drugs is in serious disrepair, and a host of dramatic changes are needed to fix the problem, a blue–ribbon panel of government advisers concluded yesterday in a long–awaited report.

The analysis by the Institute of Medicine shined an unsparing spotlight on the erosion of public confidence in the Food and Drug Administration, an agency that holds sway over a quarter of the U.S. economy. The report, requested by the FDA itself, found that Congress, agency officials and the pharmaceutical industry share responsibility for the problems—and bear the burden for implementing solutions.

The report represents a watershed moment after two years of controversy over the safety of such widely used drugs as pain relievers and antidepressants. The Institute of Medicine is part of the National Academies, chartered by Congress to advise the government on scientific and health policy issues. Its recommendations traditionally carry great weight.

The 15 experts drawn from academic and professional organizations were unanimous in endorsing the recommendations, which called for several major policy changes. Several of these have long been urged by drug safety advocates but have been resisted by the industry, Congress and the FDA itself. A number of them would require congressional approval.

We'll write more on this later, since it is a very complex issue—but on first glance, some of its recommendations are bound to be very controversial. For instance, one recommendation, that direct to consumer advertising be prohibited during a new drug's first few years on the market, raises substantial 1st Amendment issues.

[permanent link]



Project FDA.

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