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Volume 3, Number 23
June 23, 2006


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News

Big Buyers Push for Steep Cuts from Drug Makers
Wall Street Journal, 6-22-06

Editor‘s Notes:

Why are pundits and reporters always chasing stories about drug prices? Part of the reason is that, until recently, drugs tended to be the least insured part of American health care, and that Americans without health insurance (e.g., big negotiators who buy drugs in bulk at discount) had to pay full price for their medicines.
Continue reading . . .

4 Diabetes Drugs Are Seen Raising Hope and Profit
The New York Times, 6-22-06

Editor‘s Notes:

Hope and profit are not words that most Americans associate with healthcare. But they should. This article chronicles how companies are rushing to bring new diabetes treatments to market, giving hope to millions of diabetics that they can better control their illness.
Continue reading . . .

How a Hospital Stumbled Across an Rx for Medicaid
Wall Street Journal, 6-22-06

Editor‘s Notes:

The U.S. leads the world in healthcare innovation—and healthcare spending. One reason for our disproportionate spending is certainly that third party payers—like Medicaid—can be penny wise but pound foolish. As researchers like David Cutler at Harvard have pointed out, the U.S. healthcare system generally rewards providers for intensity of treatment, not the quality of treatment or disease prevention.
Continue reading . . .

Drug Prices Up Sharply This Year
The New York Times, 6-22-06

Editor‘s Notes:

The AARP and USA Families are in the habit of releasing periodic reports alleging that the branded drug industry in the U.S. is engaged in ruthless price gouging of Americans. This is yet another report along these lines, as predictable as you‘d expect:
Continue reading . . .

Commentary

Of Pills and Profits: In Defense of Big Pharma
Peter Huber, Commentary, 7-1-06

Huber, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, offers a thoughtful and nuanced examination of the acrimony swirling around global pharmaceutical pricing, and explains why, by any accounting, “expensive” new drugs will continue to be the workhorses of modern healthcare—and how differential pricing can help sustain the industry and improve global health.
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Streamlining Drug Approval
Peter J. Pitts, Robert Goldberg, Ph.D., Robert Peter Gale, Washington Times, 6-22-06

Pitts and Goldberg, co-founder of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest offer this perspective on Congressional efforts to "improve" drug safety at the FDA:
Continue reading . . .

Forget Vioxx?
Matthew Herper, Forbes, 6-21-06

Herper offers some interesting evidence that suggests that Merck‘s Vioxx woes may not be as devastating as some commentators have supposed.
Continue reading . . .

Formally Undecidable
Derek Lowe, In the Pipeline, 6-20-06

Derek Lowe, author of the blog "In the Pipeline", tries to explain why ferreting out "good" (i.e. safe) drugs from dangerous ones remains so difficult. Part of the reason, he thinks, is that animal testing for drug toxicity is an imperfect science while it remains the best proxy for human safety that we have at present. Along the way, he also explains just how hard and complex drug development is, a point that the lay public rarely appreciates.
Continue reading . . .

Circumventing Resistance to Kinase-Inhibitor Therapy
Brian Druker, M.D., New England Journal of Medicine, 6-15-06

In a recent issue of the New England Journal Of Medicine, Brian Drucker, inventor of the powerful cancer drug Gleevec, offers a fascinating overview of recent efforts to, as it were, reverse engineer Gleevec in order to design new drugs to more effectively combat cancers that have become Gleevec-resistant. He also offers his thoughts as to why pharmaceutical companies have remained focused this small group of patients who have failed on the standard therapy.
Continue reading . . .


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In this week's issue:

NEWS

Big Buyers Push for Steep Cuts from Drug Makers
4 Diabetes Drugs Are Seen Raising Hope and Profit
How a Hospital Stumbled Across an Rx for Medicaid
Drug Prices Up Sharply This Year

COMMENTARY

Of Pills and Profits: In Defense of Big Pharma
Streamlining Drug Approval
Forget Vioxx?
Formally Undecidable
Circumventing Resistance to Kinase-Inhibitor Therapy
Center for Medical Progress 
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