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Volume 3, Number 34
October 20, 2006


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In the Spotlight

Getting Off the Latest Beltway Bandwagon:
Why Conventional Wisdom on Drug Marketing Is Wrong.

Benjamin Zycher, Ph.D., Medical Progress Today, 10-20-06

Atop the increasingly crowded bandwagon, everyone knows that "marketing" is the latest evil perpetrated by the pharmaceutical producers; after all, it must cost something and higher drug prices must be the outcome. But once again, everyone—meaning The Beltway and all of its colonies—is wrong.
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News

Generic Drugs: Shop Around for the Best Deals
Consumer Reports, 11-1-06

Editor's Notes:

The U.S. has a vibrant and highly competitive market for prescription drugs, with over 50% of prescriptions going to generic brands. On top of that, U.S. generics are the least expensive in the world, which means that where generics are available and appropriate, American consumers can find better bargains at home than they could in Europe or Canada.
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FDA Creates Express Lane for Approving Some Generic Drugs
Los Angeles Times, 10-19-06

Editor's Notes:

The FDA recognizes that generic drugs are a valuable asset for consumers, and the agency is making an effort to streamline its approval process for "high priority" generics, such as first generic alternatives to a drug whose patent has expired, or generics that will alleviate a national shortage. Previously, the FDA reviewed applications for generics on a first–come, first–served basis.
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Drug Reactions Send 700,000 Yearly to ER
Baltimore Sun, 10-17-06

Editor's Notes:

The media tends to exaggerate the risks of newer, patented drugs–in part because these drugs are the most heavily advertised, and thus constantly in the public eye. But a new report from government agencies suggests that older, widely used treatments generate a vast number of adverse events.
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Two doctors sound alarm on heart stents
The Miami Herald, 10-13-06

Editor's Notes:

Information technology and new statistical tools are revolutionizing the way we perceive safety in medicine, as researchers uncover ever more subtle differences in outcomes from medical treatments. For instance, sophisticated re–analysis of clinical trial data and the "real world" outcomes data that large public and private insurers collect can uncover rare safety signals—like the link between Vioxx and heart attacks—that might otherwise have escaped notice for years.
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Commentary

Poor Countries Need Relief From World Bank’s ‘Help’ on Malaria
Roger Bate, AEI-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies, 10-18-06

Roger Bate, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, decries the World Bank's growing influence on global health programs due to its poor management and lack of expertise:
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A Lesson From Europe On Health Care
David Leonhardt, The New York Times, 10-18-06

David Leonhardt offers an interesting reflection on health care spending trends in the U.S. and Europe.
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Anthrax in Review
Bill Frist, Washington Times, 10-16-06

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R–TN) discusses legislation that he has co–sponsored, which he thinks will help the nation better prepare for emerging diseases and potential bioterror attacks.
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Faster FDA Cures
Wall Street Journal, 10-13-06

The Journal takes a close look at the recent Institute of Medicine report and finds that its criticism of the FDA is less damning than the press has reported, although it still pushes for more regulation than the Journal editors think is prudent. They also discuss a recent paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research reviewing FDA regulation.
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Fix Medicare, Not Its Prices
Michael Cannon, Cato Institute, 10-10-06

Michael Cannon argues that the real source of Medicare's woes is its attempt to micromanage prices and services for thousands of private physicians, leading to enormous waste and inefficiency.
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Research

The Rise In Spending Among Medicare Beneficiaries: The Role Of Chronic Disease Prevalence And Changes In Treatment Intensity
Ken Howard, Health Affairs, 10-19-06

Thorpe and his co–authors examine Medicare spending and find that patients with several chronic conditions account for the vast majority of the program's expenditures.
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Heart Attack Risks, Pain Relief Similar for Most Osteoarthritis Drugs
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 9-26-06

As we noted earlier, the discovery of risks associated with new drugs can actually help uncover unsuspected risks of similar treatments that doctors have prescribed for decades, simply because we now have the technology and infrastructure to analyze larger population groups for more subtle safety signals. This study, from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, compares drugs in the same class as Vioxx (COX–2 inhibitors) with traditional painkillers (called NSAIDS), and finds that they have similar risks and benefits.
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Medical Progress Today is published by the Center for Medical Progress at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research.

For more information about Medical Progress Today, please contact the managing editor, Paul Howard, at phoward@manhattan-institute.org, or via telephone at 212.599.7000.

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In this week's issue:

SPOTLIGHT

Getting Off the Latest Beltway Bandwagon:

NEWS

Generic Drugs: Shop Around for the Best Deals
FDA Creates Express Lane for Approving Some Generic Drugs
Drug Reactions Send 700,000 Yearly to ER
Two doctors sound alarm on heart stents

COMMENTARY

Poor Countries Need Relief From World Bank’s ‘Help’ on Malaria
A Lesson From Europe On Health Care
Anthrax in Review
Faster FDA Cures
Fix Medicare, Not Its Prices

RESEARCH

The Rise In Spending Among Medicare Beneficiaries: The Role Of Chronic Disease Prevalence And Changes In Treatment Intensity
Heart Attack Risks, Pain Relief Similar for Most Osteoarthritis Drugs
Center for Medical Progress 
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