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Volume 3, Number 40
December 8, 2006


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In the Spotlight

A Tale Of Two Drug Classes Shows Why U.S. Mustn't Go Europe's Way

Paul Howard, Ph.D., Investor's Business Daily, 12-1-06

A decade ago, Europe's pharmaceutical industry started to lose its competitive edge—thanks, at least in part, to drug price controls and health care rationing common to EU nations. Today the U.S. leads the world in creating new drugs and medicines because we offer a dynamic—and yes, profitable—market for pharmaceutical innovation.
Continue reading . . .

News

Collapse of a Cholesterol Drug
The New York Times, 12-5-06

This editorial, from the New York Times, offers praise for a drug company's efforts to develop an innovative new medicine, in this case Pfizer's now–defunct drug torcetrapib.

Unlike statins, which fight heart disease by lowering the amount of "bad" cholesterol in the blood, torcetrapib was the front-runner in a new class of drugs that try to raise the level of "good" cholesterol. It was precisely the kind of product we want the industry to focus on: not a "me too" drug that marks a merely incremental advance over some existing therapy but a wholly new approach that could spur a huge leap forward in the battle against heart disease.
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New Scrutiny for Stents
Newsday, 12-4-06

Editor's Notes:

Stents—small metallic devices used to prop open a patient's arteries in the aftermath of a heart attack—are a valuable tool in the treatment of heart disease. But one subset of these devices, called drug coated stents, is being analyzed for their potential to cause blood clotting in a small number of patients.
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Scrutiny of Other Heart Drugs Could Grow After Failed Trial
The New York Times, 12-4-06

Editor's Notes:

This week's biggest headlines were garnered by Pfizer's announcement that it was pulling the plug on torcetrapib, the most promising drug in its development pipeline. The news came in the midst of a 15,000 patient late–stage clinical trial for the drug in combination with Lipitor, another Pfizer product. Safety monitors suspended the trial after data showed that torcetrapib plus Lipitor caused increased deaths and heart problems compared to patients on Lipitor alone (82 deaths attributed to torcetrapib vs. 51 with Lipitor).
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Commentary

Yes. Let the Government Bargain with Drugmakers
Karen Davenport, The Philadelphia Inquirer, 12-6-06

The Philadelphia Inquirer offers two competing viewpoints on federal drug price negotiations. The first, by Karen Davenport, argues that there are several ways that the government can—and should—"take control of drug prices" for the benefit of taxpayers and seniors.
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No. Private Insurers are Already Getting Discounts
Robert E. Moffit, Ph.D., The Philadelphia Inquirer, 12-6-06

In an editorial opposing the viewpoint offered by Karen Davenport, Robert Moffit argues against drug price negotiations.
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Little Big Pharma
Wall Street Journal, 12-6-06

The Journal uses Pfizer's withdrawal of torcetrapib to illustrate the steep economics of drug development—very high initial investments in research with very uncertain prospects of success—and to explain why drug price negotiations for the Medicare drug benefit would hurt the industry and patient health.
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Renew Milton Friedman's Conservatism
Newt Gingrich, AEI Online, 12-4-06

Gingrich calls for the application of free market capitalism to the "center of the health care system" by empowering consumers and creating a single national market for health insurance.
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National Health Care? We're Halfway There
Daniel Gross, The New York Times, 12-3-06

Gross makes a very accurate and interesting observation—that the federal government already pays, through tax subsidies and programs like Medicare and Medicaid—about half of the nation's health care costs.
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What's Good for Pharma is Good for America
Richard A. Epstein, The Boston Globe, 12-3-06

Epstein, a law professor at the University of Chicago and author of the new book Overdose: How Excessive Government Regulations Stifles Pharmaceutical Innovation, discusses the effect that drug price controls would have on the pharmaceutical industry in the U.S.
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A New Mood of Co–operation
Andrew Jack, Financial Times, 12-1-06

This article surveys industry programs that make low cost AIDS medicines available in developing countries, and finds much to praise in their operation. Jack also notes that AIDS activists who criticize drug patents and drug prices are often shooting at the wrong target: the relative paucity of AIDS drugs in many developing nations is far from the only bar to effective AIDS treatment. In fact, the lack of health care infrastructure in those same countries is a major impediment.
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New Research Looks at the UN’s Failure on AIDS
Roger Bate, AEI Online, 12-1-06

Bate takes the UN to task for failing to "walk the walk" when it comes to ensuring that funds for HIV treatment are spent transparently and effectively.
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Research

Five-Year Data on Imatinib Show Best-Ever Survival With Chronic Myeloid Leukemia
Medscape, 12-6-06

This article, reporting findings from this week's issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, shows that survival rates for patients with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia, or CML, have reached an all time high thanks to the use if the targeted cancer drug, Gleevec.
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In this week's issue:

SPOTLIGHT

A Tale Of Two Drug Classes Shows Why U.S. Mustn't Go Europe's Way

NEWS

Collapse of a Cholesterol Drug
New Scrutiny for Stents
Scrutiny of Other Heart Drugs Could Grow After Failed Trial

COMMENTARY

Yes. Let the Government Bargain with Drugmakers
No. Private Insurers are Already Getting Discounts
Little Big Pharma
Renew Milton Friedman's Conservatism
National Health Care? We're Halfway There
What's Good for Pharma is Good for America
A New Mood of Co–operation
New Research Looks at the UN’s Failure on AIDS

RESEARCH

Five-Year Data on Imatinib Show Best-Ever Survival With Chronic Myeloid Leukemia
Center for Medical Progress 
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