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Volume 3, Number 22
June 16, 2006


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In the Spotlight

Where Would You Rather Be Sick?

David Gratzer, Wall Street Journal, 6-15-06

Is socialized medicine the prescription for better health? A recent study comparing Americans and Canadians, widely reported in the press, seems to suggest just that. But there is much less here than meets the eye.
Continue reading . . .

News

Betting on a New Cancer Drug
Wall Street Journal, 6-15-06

Editor's Notes:

This article is a wonderful example of the boom–bust cycle of patent driven medical innovation. The lure of patent–protected profits gives companies the incentive to engage in risky biomedical research, to say nothing of navigating the rocky shoals of FDA approval.
Continue reading . . .

Going from the lab to Limbo: The FDA has been delaying decisions on applications, and drugmakers are fuming
Business Week, 6-12-06

Editor's Notes:

As a counterpoint to the Boston Globe article on Senator Grassley's attempts to "rein in" the FDA, BusinessWeek offers a picture of FDA reviewers who are increasingly delaying the approval of new drugs in order to get more data. Is this a bad thing? Only for patients in need of new medicines—which means, essentially, all of us.
Continue reading . . .

FDA Announces New Measures to Protect Americans from Counterfeit Drugs
FDA News, 6-9-06

Editor's Notes:

Last week the FDA announced a new initiative that will help reduce the risk of Americans being exposed to dangerous or ineffective counterfeit prescription drugs.
Continue reading . . .

U.S. Approves Use of Vaccine for Cervical Cancer
The New York Times, 6-9-06

Editor's Notes:

The FDA recently approved a new vaccine against the virus (HPV) that is responsible for the vast majority of cervical cancer cases in the U.S. and around the globe. If the vaccine is widely accepted, it has the potential to save hundreds of thousands of lives, particularly in developing countries.
Continue reading . . .

Watching the watchdog
The Boston Globe, 6-8-06

Editor's Notes:

Senator Charles Grassley has earned plenty of media attention for his "get tough" approach to the FDA—and he is also the sponsor of legislation that would create an independent "Office of Drug Safety" at the FDA, which would have wide powers to pull drugs from the market or mandate new safety studies beyond those required by the agency.
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Commentary

Medicare Mess Guaranteed to Grow
Robert E. Moffit, Ph.D., Washington Times, 6-14-06

While Republicans and Democrats spar over implementation of the Medicare Drug Benefit in hopes of gaining votes in November, Moffit reminds us that the real problem isn't glitches in implementation, but the long–term fiscal sustainability of the program. He warns that, unless something is done soon to rein in Medicare spending, the program will swamp federal government in coming decades.
Continue reading . . .

A Vaccination Against Complacency
Wendy Everett, The Boston Globe, 6-13-06

Everett has produced an eloquent op–ed on the enormous health impact of vaccines, and why policymakers need to find ways to sustain investment in vaccinations and encourage wider vaccination programs.
Continue reading . . .

Now Bring Vioxx Back
Wall Street Journal, 6-8-06

In a long hoped for development, the FDA has moved to allow a highly promising multiple sclerosis treatment, Tysabri, to return to the market. The Wall Street Journal hopes that the agency will now move to bring Vioxx back:
Continue reading . . .

More aid will not prevent more AIDS
Philip Stevens, Bangkok Post, 6-5-06

Stevens, the author of last week's Spotlight article, argues that more aid for AIDS programs may make international donors feel good, but is unlikely to do much to stem the rising tide of the disease.
Continue reading . . .

The Drug Benefit: A Report Card
The New York Times, 6-5-06

The New York Times grades the Medicare Drug Benefit and gives it a (very grudging) C. Still, the Times manage to give some credit where credit is due:
Continue reading . . .


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In this week's issue:

SPOTLIGHT

Where Would You Rather Be Sick?

NEWS

Betting on a New Cancer Drug
Going from the lab to Limbo: The FDA has been delaying decisions on applications, and drugmakers are fuming
FDA Announces New Measures to Protect Americans from Counterfeit Drugs
U.S. Approves Use of Vaccine for Cervical Cancer
Watching the watchdog

COMMENTARY

Medicare Mess Guaranteed to Grow
A Vaccination Against Complacency
Now Bring Vioxx Back
More aid will not prevent more AIDS
The Drug Benefit: A Report Card
Center for Medical Progress 
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