Medicine

Sanders Calls for Investigation of Big Pharma Drug Pushers

by Lauren McCauley – From 2007-2012, the Big Three wholesalers earned a combined $17 billion while they collectively shipped 423 million pain pills to West Virginia. Drug-pushing, multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical companies should be “investigated and prosecuted,” declared Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in response to revelations that out-of-state drug wholesalers have been pouring highly-addictive and lethal opioids into rural West Virginia towns, reaping profits while countless suffer. Bernie Sanders  ✔@SenSanders Large, multi-billion dollar corporations should not make billions pushing addictive drugs. They should be investigated and prosecuted. https://twitter.com/wvgazettemail/status/810521005680656384 … 3:18 PM – 20 Dec 2016 Reporter Eric Eyre with the Charleston Gazette-Mail published a two-part investigative series this weekend exposing what looks like the Big Pharma behemoths profiting off the state’s overdose epidemic. According to “previously confidential drug shipping sales records sent by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s office,” and obtained by the Gazette-Mail, “drug wholesalers...

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CEO of Opioid Company that Funded Arizona’s Anti-Pot Campaign Charged with Bribing Doctors

by Mother Mags – Can you say hypocrisy? Of all the states that had marijuana propositions on the ballot this year, either legalization or medical weed, only Arizona rejected the measure. The state passed a medical pot referendum in 2010, and Prop 205 was an initiative similar to Colorado’s decriminalization law. Until a few weeks before the election it appeared 205 would pass by about 10 points. Then a well-funded anti-205 campaign kicked into gear, with 24/7 TV commercials and state officials, including the governor, attorney general, and other GOP leaders, going on their Reefer Madness tour (the Democratic Party supported 205). The TV spots said Colorado’s experience with legal pot was terrible: schools didn’t get the money they were promised and many more students were getting high. All of it was a lie. The fear-mongering ads were so dishonest that Colorado legislators sent a letter to Arizona’s anti-205 officials telling them to quit lying about Colorado....

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As Prices ‘Skyrocket,’ 20 States Sue Drug Companies for Collusion

by Deirdre Fulton – ‘We have evidence of widespread participation in illegal conspiracies across the generic drug industry,’ says Connecticut attorney general. Twenty state attorneys general filed a lawsuit on Thursday against several pharmaceutical companies, accusing them of entering into “numerous illegal conspiracies” to fix generic drug prices at consumers’ expense. The federal lawsuit (pdf) names generic drug-makers Heritage Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Aurobindo Pharma USA, Inc., Citron Pharma, LLC, Mayne Pharma (USA), Inc., Mylan Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc., and concerns two drugs: doxycycline hyclate delayed release, an antibiotic used to treat a range of conditions including respiratory tract infections, and glyburide, an oral diabetes medication. It was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut and labels Heritage as the “principal architect and ringleader” that helped organize a “wide-ranging series of conspiracies” to fix prices. “My office has dedicated significant resources to this investigation for more than...

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Shkreli’s Infamous $750 Pill Recreated By High Schoolers For Just $2

by Whitney Webb – A team of high school students have created an inexpensive version of the drug Daraprim, which Martin Shkreli made infamous by increasing its cost by over 5,000%. Martin Shkreli quickly became one of the most hated men in the world almost overnight, when he used his position at Turing Pharmaceuticals to jack up the price of the drug Daraprim from $13.50 per pill to $750. The 5,000% jump in the drug’s price quickly drew protests from the medical community as concerns were raised that many patients would soon be unable to afford the drug. Daraprim, one of the World Health Organization’s essential medicines, is commonly prescribed as an anti-parasitic. Despite the obvious price gouging at work here, Shkreli maintained that the increase was simply a savvy business decision. Though Shkreli tried to make amends by reducing the drug’s price for hospitals, it has remained at $750...

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Medical Innovation Bill Would Water Down Disclosure of Industry Payments to Doctors

by Charles Ornstein – The 21st Century Cures Act aims to support biomedical research. But along the way, it would exempt certain payments from drug companies to doctors. Critics say such changes are a mistake. Update, Nov. 29, 2016: Provisions in the 21st Century Cures Act dealing with disclosure of physician payments were removed from the bill Tuesday, following criticism from some lawmakers and transparency advocates, a GOP aide said. This week, Congress is expected to consider a bill promoting biomedical research and innovation that would also weaken requirements on pharmaceutical and medical device companies to disclose certain payments to doctors. The goal of the 21st Century Cures Act, which has bipartisan support, is to help bring drugs and devices to market faster and at lower cost. It would increase funding for the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration and would provide grants to states to address...

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The Republican Medicare Plan is an Atrocity

by Ian Millhiser – It only takes three Republican senators to stop it.  There’s a lot that you should know about the Republican Medicare plan, a plan that Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) hopes to enact shortly after President-elect Donald Trump takes office, but the entirety of it can be summarized in just one sentence. Over the last half-decade, Ryan has proposed several different versions of the Republican plan to charge seniors a lot more for inferior health care. There are important differences among these versions. Some would phase out Medicare entirely over the course of many years, while others would merely make the system more inefficient and drive out-of-pocket costs for seniors much higher. The most recent version is impossible to fully evaluate because it lacks important details — like numbers. As Jonathan Cohn and Jeffrey Young quipped about the GOP’s overall health care package, “Speaker Paul Ryan wants to replace 20 million people’s...

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California’s Prop. 61 Offers Opportunity to Take on Big Pharma

by RoseAnn DeMoro – The drug corporations are running scared… and spending big to defeat this ballot measure. While the world is watching the Presidential race Tuesday night, another election battle in California provides a window in the ability of voters to challenge corporate power – in this case one of the most abusive industries in the world, big pharma. Proposition 61 in California pits the drug cartel and those shilling for it, against patients, nurses, and consumer advocates. At a time when the drug giants have buried proposals in Congress and state legislatures to block any restraints on its predatory pricing, Prop. 61 would actually begin the process of lowering prices. The drug corporations are running scared. They’ve poured in over $120 million, the most ever spent on a California ballot measure (and likely the most ever in the U.S.) with a non-stop pounding of deceptive and misleading ads intended...

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Big Pharma Spending Big to Defeat Drug Price Measure

by Nika Knight – The battle over a California ballot measure to put a stop to pharmaceutical price gouging is heating up as the election draws near, with Big Pharma pitting itself against consumer watchdogs, parents of sick children, and nurses. Big Pharma has spent nearly $90 million to defeat Proposition 61, which “would require all prescription drugs purchased by the state of California to be priced at or below the price paid by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), which pays the lowest price of any federal agency,” as the Los Angeles Daily News writes. The battle takes place just as Mylan, the producer of the life-saving epinephrine injectors known as EpiPens, was fined hundreds of millions of dollars by the Justice Department for overcharging Medicaid for the devices. Mylan infamously raised EpiPen prices by over 500 percent. Yet despite weeks of negative media coverage of Mylan’s price gouging,...

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What the Media Doesn’t Know About the Clinton Foundation Could Fill a Warehouse

by Frank Vyan Walton – Sometimes it’s just plain embarrassing.  Sorry, I mean stupifying how much the media doesn’t know about what they’re talking about.  I mean, they’re supposed to know.  They’re supposed to have a clue, but there times when they really really don’t.  One of those times was just the other day as CNN’s Dana Bash attempted to grill ClintonFoundation spokesman campaign manager Robby Mook on the announcement that if Hillary Clinton wins the Presidency that the Foundation will reject all foreign donations and also that Bill Clinton will not make any foreign speeches during her administration. Her initial question betrays just how much she doesn’t know. Bash: If it’s not ok for the Foundation to accept foreign donations while she is President, why was it Ok while she was Secretary of State? First of all, Hillary Clinton was not a participant in the Clinton Foundation while she was Secretary of State. In fact...

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Disgusted With Sky-High Drug Prices, California Voters Take On Big Pharma

by Fran Quigley, Truthout | News Analysis –   Enormous public frustration with the skyrocketing prices of essential medicines in the US has not yet led to any meaningful reform. But a historic initiative on the November ballot in California, championed by health care and consumer advocates and fiercely opposed by multinational drug corporations, may finally rein in Big Pharma. It is hard to overstate the level of dysfunction in the US medicines system. The headline-producing greed of “pharma bro” Martin Shkreli was just the most dramatic example of a pharmaceutical industry whose patent monopolies grant it immunity from market forces while its political clout shields it from government regulation. Taking full advantage of taxpayer-funded research, drug corporations make record profits, even by Fortune 500 standards, and pay their CEOs as much as $180 million a year. Those corporations spend far more on incessant marketing to consumers and physicians than they...

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Obamacare Might be Making People—Especially Poor People—Healthier

by Joan McCarter – The health impacts of a program like Obamacare are generally hard to measure in the short term and over a population as large as the United States’. But the Supreme Court unwittingly did researchers a favor by ruling that the Medicaid expansion part of the law could be optional among states. While Republican governors in many states screwed their citizens by refusing that expansion, they set up a perfect research opportunity, “a huge natural experiment” in the words of  Dr. Benjamin Sommers, as reported by The New York Times. He’s an author of a new study study published in JAMA last week. The Times summarizes: Low-income people in Arkansas and Kentucky, which expanded Medicaid insurance to everyone below a certain income threshold, appear to be healthier than their peers in Texas, which did not expand. The researchers gathered their results by conducting a large telephone survey of low-income residents of the...

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Gonorrhea Could One Day Be Untreatable, Doctors Say

by ANNA SCANLON – Gonorrhea has long been a sexually transmitted disease that is treated with a strong dose of antibiotics. However, it may soon become untreatable as it develops resistance to the two antibiotics left that can treat it: azithromycin and ceftriaxon. CBS News reports that antibiotic resistant strains of this STD have more than quadrupled in the United States. Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of the Center for Disease Control’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and Tuberculosis Prevention, stated: “The confluence of emerging drug resistance and very limited alternative options for treatment creates a perfect storm for future gonorrhea treatment failure in the U.S.” However, the rates of antibiotic resistant strains are still low, despite the fourfold increase in gonorrhea that is resistant to azithromycin. The rate recently rose from 0.6 percent to 2.5 percent. For the other drug used to treat the disease, ceftriaxon, antibiotic resistance has doubled from 0.4 percent to...

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WADA Calls For Russian Ban From Rio Olympics After Report Confirms ‘Unprecedented’ Doping Scheme

by LINDSAY GIBBS – On Monday, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) released the much-anticipated report on its investigation into Russia’s anti-doping efforts. The findings were damning, particularly for Russian athletes hoping to compete in the Summer Olympics in Rio in a mere 18 days. According to the report, the Russian Ministry of Sport erased at least 312 positive doping tests between 2011 and 2015. WADA is requesting that Russia be banned from all international competitions, including the Rio Games. WADA commissioned Richard McLaren, a Canadian lawyer, to produce the report after Grigory Rodchenkov, the former director of Russia’s anti-doping laboratory, acted as a whistle-blower and told the Times about the extensive nature of Russia’s cheating during the Sochi Games in 2014. Rodchenkov told the Times that Russia’s secret service figured out how to open up sealed urine samples months before the Sochi Games began, and during the Games samples from athletes...

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Doctors In Australia Ordered To Prescribe Fewer Antidepressants

by JULIE FIDLER – Antidepressants are not as effective as previously thought Australian health experts are warning that antidepressants are not as effective as previously thought. As a result, physicians in that nation are being told to scale back on prescribing the drugs. Nearly 1 in 10 Australian adults take antidepressants – that’s 10% of the population – and a growing number of children and teens are being prescribed the psychiatric drugs. But the medications don’t work in many cases. In fact, psychiatrists say there has been a drastic breakdown in research backing antidepressants’ effectiveness. Christopher Davey, a psychiatrist at Orygen, the National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health, told the Sydney Morning Herald that as experts analyze more and more studies of antidepressants, they are discovering that the drugs have proven to be ineffective in 30-40% of people who use them for the sole purpose of treating depression. They are also...

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Pfizer Cuts States Off From Execution Drugs

by BRYCE COVERT – After pharmaceutical company Pfizer announced on Friday that it will clamp down on the distribution of its drugs so that they can no longer be used in executions, any state that wants to use lethal injection will now have to resort to getting them on underground markets. Pfizer announced that it will restrict seven products — pancuronium bromide, potassium chloride, propofol, midazolam, hydromorphone, rocuronium bromide, and vecuronium bromide — that are used in executions. Those products will now only be available to a select group of wholesalers, distributors, and direct purchasers who verify that they won’t resell them to correctional institutions for executions, and any government entity that wants to buy them has to certify that they will only be used for patient care and will not be resold. Pfizer says it will “consistently monitor” the seven drugs to root out any noncompliance and modify its...

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Utah Orders Abortion Doctors To Put Their Patients In Danger

by ALEX ZIELINSKI – A new Utah law that went into effect on Tuesday will force doctors to shirk their promise to “do no harm” by dangerously over-anesthetizing women who seek a later abortion. Informed by anti-abortion state lawmakers rather than by medical experts, the “Protecting Unborn Children Amendment” requires physicians to administer an anesthetic to any women seeking an abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy or later, to “eliminate or alleviate organic pain to the unborn child.” Like many anti-abortion laws on the state level, Utah’s law rests on the unscientific belief that a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks of gestation. Most states that introduce “fetal pain” legislation try to ban abortions entirely after 20 weeks — and at least 12 have been successful. Utah is the first to pass a anesthesia-related bill instead of outright prohibiting the practice. But according to physicians, it may as well...

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No, Obamacare Isn’t Making The Opioid Epidemic Worse

by  RYAN COLLINS – Just when a bipartisan consensus was forming around solutions to the growing opioid epidemic, Republican senators who are in danger of losing reelection have started playing politics with the issue by blaming it on the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Opioid abuse is a serious danger to many American communities. According to the CDC, overdose deaths involving prescription opioids have quadrupled since 1999. Not surprisingly, so has the sale and marketing of opioids as prescription drugs. From 1999 to 2014, more than 165,000 people have died in the U.S. from overdoses related to prescription opioids. Today, at least half of deaths due to opioids overdosing involve a prescription opioid. In 2014 alone, over 14,000 Americans died from an opioid overdoses. And this epidemic is hitting younger populations hardest. There are many examples of responsible, bipartisan policy prescriptions that would help reduce opioid abuse. For instance, one can...

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Oklahoma Lawmakers Send Bill Pulling Licenses of Doctors who Perform Abortions to the Governor

by Meteor Blades – Abortion remains legal nationwide despite being ever more hampered by forced-birther machinations. It therefore seems impossible that the bill just passed by the Oklahoma House of Representatives to pull the license of any doctor who performs an abortion will pass constitutional muster. Indeed, a few representatives—all of them Democrats—made that very argument during debate. The bill nevertheless passed the House overwhelmingly late Thursday, just as it passed by a lopsided vote in the heavily Republican state Senate last month. It now heads to Republican Gov. Mary Fallin for her signature. She has not indicated whether or not she will sign it. Under the bill, any doctor who performs an abortion—except to save the life of the woman or to preserve her health—would have his or her license taken away. The Oklahoma State Medical Association has opposed the bill, viewing it as an attempt to intimidate physicians and inject politics into the physician-patient relationship. Amanda Allen, the...

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Now There’s Proof: Docs Who Get Company Cash Tend to Prescribe More Brand-Name Meds

by Charles Ornstein, Ryann Grochowski Jones and Mike Tigas – The more money doctors receive from drug and medical device companies, the more brand-name drugs they tend to prescribe, a new ProPublica analysis shows. Even a meal can make a difference. Doctors have long disputed that the payments they receive from pharmaceutical companies have any relationship to how they prescribe drugs. There’s been little evidence to settle the matter — until now. A ProPublica analysis has found for the first time that doctors who receive payments from the medical industry do indeed tend to prescribe drugs differently than their colleagues who don’t. And the more money they receive, on average, the more brand-name medications they prescribe. We matched records on payments from pharmaceutical and medical device makers in 2014 with corresponding data on doctors’ medication choices in Medicare’s prescription drug program. (You can read our methodology here.) Doctors who got...

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Children On Antidepressants Have Increased By 54% Since 2005

by John Vibes – A recent report from the World Health Organisation (WHO) has indicated that children are being prescribed antidepressants at an alarming rate. According to the report, antidepressant prescriptions for children have increased by over 54% in the past 7 years. WHO director of mental health Dr Shekhar Saxena said in a recent statement that, “Anti-depressant use amongst young people is and has been a matter of concern because of two reasons. One, are more people being prescribed antidepressants without sufficient reason? And second, can antidepressants do any major harm?“ The study, ”Trends and patterns of antidepressant use in children and adolescents from five western countries, 2005-2012“, has been published in the European Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology. In most other countries the average of increase is around 50%, but in some places like Denmark, it is even higher, around 60%. Dr Maureen Baker, chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs,...

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Need a Link Between Federal Reps and Big Pharma Companies? Here it is

by JULIE FIDLER – As Big Pharma delays guidelines for prescribing painkillers In an effort to cut prescription painkiller addiction and overdose deaths, the CDC created prescribing guidelines. But it looks like Big Pharma is delaying those guidelines, likely to protect drug sales. Under the proposed guidelines, doctors would prescribe patients non-opioid painkillers first for chronic pain, and only prescribe opioids, like OxyContin, if the non-opioid drugs don’t work. The agency also wants physicians to prescribe the smallest amount of the drugs possible, typically 3 days or less for acute pain. Doctors would only continue prescribing the drugs if patients show significant improvement. Those guidelines were set to go into effect this month, but last month, the agency abandoned its January release date amid harsh criticism from drug-makers, industry-funded organizations, and public health officials. A federal panel – the Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee (IPRCC) – has been one...

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Major Drug Distributors Flooded West Virginia with Millions of Pain Pills

by JULIE FIDLER – Contributing to a major drug problem One of the nation’s largest pharmaceutical drug wholesalers is under fire from West Virginia’s attorney general, Patrick Morrisey. On Friday, Morrisey announced a lawsuit against San Francisco-based McKesson Corporation alleging the company violated state consumer protection laws and the Uniform Controlled Substances Act by flooding West Virginia with tens of millions of prescription pills. McKesson allegedly failed to detect, report, and stop the flood of suspicious prescription drug orders into the state, contributing to widespread drug abuse. The state says the company pushed narcotics to anyone who wanted them in a state that has more problems with prescription drug abuse than any other in the nation. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics show West Virginia’s rate of fatal drug overdoses was 28.9 overdose deaths per 100,000 people in 2010, most of those involving prescription drugs. The problem...

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Pharmacists Can Now Prescribe Birth Control in Oregon. Why Not Make It Over-the-Counter Everywhere?

by Stephanie Slade – Getting government out of the way would protect women and employers alike As of last Friday, January 1, women in Oregon can skip the doctor’s visit that all other states require before they’re allowed to purchase birth control pills. Henceforth, pharmacists in the state can issue prescriptions for hormonal contraceptives themselves. The change moves the state closer to the over-the-counter scheme that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists endorsed in 2012. It doesn’t quite go all the way, though, since technically the pills remain regulated as prescription meds. A better solution would be to allow their sale to anyone, anywhere, without requiring a prescription at all—something Sen. Cory Gardner (R–Colo.) and a number of other Republicans proposed last year. As my colleague Elizabeth Nolan Brown has explained, getting rid of the prescription requirement would increase women’s freedom to make choices for themselves. Not everyone can afford to take time...

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Antibiotics Expert Warns It’s ‘Almost Too Late’ to Stop Global Superbug

by Deirdre Fulton – ‘We have got a 50-50 chance of salvaging the most important antibiotics but we need to stop agriculture from ruining it again,’ says UK health expert Following the discovery in the UK of bacteria that resist the most common antibiotic of last resort, a leading British expert is warning it is “almost too late” to stop a global superbug crisis. News outlets reported Monday that UK government scientists have found a gene, known as mcr-1, that gives bacteria resistance to colistin, often used by doctors when other antibiotics fail. Such resistance was first discovered last month in China, and in the past few weeks, the resistance gene has also been found in Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Portugal, and in several Asian and African countries. The rise of the so-called post-antibiotic era is widely linked to over- and misuse of antibiotics in industrial agriculture. Public Health England found...

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A Corrupt CEO Busted? Well, Merry Christmas

by William Rivers Pitt, Truthout | Op-Ed – He is a man of splendid abilities but utterly corrupt. He shines and stinks, like a rotten mackerel by moonlight. – John Randolph I’ve never seen a mermaid or a space alien or a leprechaun. I never expected to, of course; these are all creatures of myth and folklore and fabulation, but still … it would be pretty cool to see a mermaid, right? Another thing I never expected to see was a greedy lying thieving scumbag corporate CEO arrested for his serial crimes, but that changed on Thursday when Martin Shkreli was led away before the eyes of the world. You know this guy. He’s the one who acquired the anti-malarial and anti-parasitical drug Daraprim – used primarily to treat children and AIDS patients – and jacked up the price from $13.50 per pill to $750 per pill. For those of...

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In Biggest Tax Evasion Scheme of Its Kind, Big Pharma Becomes Behemoth

by Deirdre Fulton – Mega-merger between pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and Allergan could lead to higher drug prices, watchdogs warn Big Pharma just became Huge Pharma. Creating the world’s largest drugmaker—and paving the way for higher pharmaceutical prices—Viagra-maker Pfizer Inc. and Allergan PLC, which manufactures Botox, said Monday that they would merge in a so-called inversion deal worth up to about $155 billion. The takeover “would be the largest inversion ever,” according to the Wall Street Journal, allowing Pfizer to profit from a lower corporate tax rate in Allergan’s home country of Ireland. The LA Times reported that the deal “is likely to fuel critics’ concerns that consumers would pay even more for drugs as competition declines among manufacturers, insurers and retailers.” As Gustav Ando, research director for the business information and consulting company IHS Life Sciences, told the Washington Post: “This merger isn’t meant to benefit patients, it isn’t meant to innovate in...

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‘Pharma Bro’ Martin Shkreli: I Won’t Talk To Congress About My Price-Gouging Without A Subpoena

by SHANNON BARBER – Turing Pharmaceutical founder and CEO Martin ‘Pharma Bro’ Shkreli is pretty much universally hated at this point for being a greedy f*ck who raised the price on a vital drug for treating cancer and AIDS patients by 5000% overnight. After intense backlash he reluctantly bowed to public pressure and said he’d lower the price of the drug; however, that promise has yet to come to fruition. He was even owned in a Reddit AMA by a real doctor who blew a million holes in his bullshit excuses for raising the price of the drug. Even though another company has decided to undercut him by selling a comparable drug with similar properties for just $1, Shkreli plows on with the idea that his greed is justified. Well, Shkreli’s douchebaggery may not be just him being a horrible human being. It could also very well be illegal. Congress has...

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New Study Finds That 2/3 of People on Anti-Depressants are Not Clinically Depressed

by John Vibes – According to a new study, doctors are dishing out anti-depressant drugs to pretty much anyone, and most of the patients don’t even meet the official criteria for clinical depression, which is likely a fabricated disorder to begin with. The study, which can be found in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, says that 69% of people who were prescribed anti-depressants did not actually exhibit the signs that doctors are supposed to look for when treating clinical depression. According to the study: Using data from the Baltimore Epidemiologic Catchment Area (ECA) Study Wave 1 (1981) through Wave 4 (2004–2005) (N = 1,071), we assessed lifetime prevalence of common mood and anxiety disorders according to DSM-III and DSM-III-R criteria, based on 4 interviews, among participants who reported current antidepressant use. Furthermore, we examined factors associated with current antidepressant use. Thirteen percent of participants at Wave 4 reported currently using antidepressant...

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Feds Bust Texas, Arizona Smuggling Illegal Drugs Into The U.S. For Execution Purposes (VIDEO)

by RANDA MORRIS – The Food and Drug Administration announced that the agency had impounded multiple shipments of sodium thiopental, described as “an anesthetic that has been used in past executions, in combination with drugs that paralyze the muscles and stop the heart.” According to the FDA the drug is not approved for any use in the U.S, and therefore constitutes an illegal substance. “Courts have concluded that sodium thiopental for the injection in humans is an unapproved drug and may not be imported into the country,” an FDA spokesperson said in a statement. Who attempted to smuggle the shipments of illegal drugs into the country? Was it the Mexican Cartel or Islamic State terrorists? Hell no. It was the right-wing terrorists who are currently running the states of Texas and Arizona. The state of Arizona spent more than $27,000 in taxpayer money on one of the illegal drug shipments, which was...

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New Leak of Final TPP Text Confirms Public Health Advocates’ Worst Fears

by Deirdre Fulton – “The monopolist pharmaceutical industry has won a lot with the TPP, at the expense of people’s health,” says Public Citizen Offering a first glimpse of the secret 12-nation “trade” deal in its final form—and fodder for its growing ranks of opponents—WikiLeaks on Friday published the final negotiated text for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)’s Intellectual Property Rights chapter, confirming that the pro-corporate pact would harm public health by blocking patient access to lifesaving medicines. The document is dated October 5, the same day it was announced in Atlanta, Georgia that the member states to the treaty had reached an accord after more than five years of negotiations. Aside from the WikiLeaks publication, the vast majority of the mammoth deal’s contents are still being withheld from the public—which a WikiLeaks press statement suggests is a strategic move by world leaders to forestall public criticism until after the Canadian election...

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California Legalizes Assisted Suicide Amid Growing Support for Such Laws

by MICHAEL LIPKA – In a huge victory for the right-to-die movement, California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed into law a bill that legalizes doctor-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients in the nation’s most populous state. Brown’s action ends a yearlong saga prompted in part by the case of the late Brittany Maynard. Maynard was a California native suffering from terminal brain cancer who made national headlines last year when she moved to Oregon (the first U.S. state to legally allow physician-assisted suicide) in order to be able to end her life. Before her death at age 29 on Nov. 1, 2014, she lobbied for California and other states to legalize doctor-assisted suicide, and her family has continued to advocate for the cause. The California legislation initially stalled amid opposition from the Catholic Church and other opponents. However, it was reintroduced and passed on Sept. 11 in a special legislative...

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Pharma Company Forced To Backtrack After Suddenly Raising Drug’s Price 20-Fold

by SAM P.K. COLLINS – Amid outrage about sudden price hikes of specialty drugs, a company has reneged on its recent acquisition of a tuberculosis medication, a deal that would have increased the cost of the treatment more than 20-fold. Just three weeks after purchasing the rights to the drug, Rodelis Therapeutics has agreed to return the medication to the nonprofit that previously owned it. The medicine, named Cycloserine, treats a form of tuberculosis that’s resistant to multiple drugs usually used to treat it — in other words, a serious form of the ailment. There are nearly 90 cases of drug-resistant tuberculosis annually in the United States. Last week, Rodelis Therapeutics, the company at the center of the controversy, defended its decision to increase the price of the tuberculosis drug, saying it needed to invest and ensure the drug maintained its effectiveness. But the Purdue Research Foundation, the Indiana nonprofit...

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Former Hedge Fund Manager Buys Rights To Drug For Pregnant Women, Increases Price 5500 Percent

by TARA CULP-RESSLER – A decades-old drug that’s used to treat a common parasite has jumped in price by more than $700, after a pharmaceutical company purchased it and raised the price tag practically overnight — triggering protests from members of the medical community, who say that the treatment may now be out of reach even for patients with insurance coverage. Daraprim helps treat toxoplasmosis, a parasite that mainly affects pregnant women and other people with compromised immune systems. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, toxoplasmosis is “a leading cause of death attributed to foodborne illness in the United States,” though it’s typically not dangerous for healthy people. A start-up company named Turing Pharmaceuticals bought Derapim last month and now has exclusive rights to market the name brand drug, which has been on the market since 1953. Turing, which is run by a former hedge fund manager...

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Experts: Pending Health Insurance Mergers Will Hit Patients Right In The Wallet

by SAM P.K. COLLINS – Impending multi-billion health insurance mergers involving four major providers have drawn the ire of patient advocacy groups that say such deals violate antitrust laws and threaten to fatten insurance companies’ coffers at patients’ expense. Earlier this year, Anthem, Inc. made a $47.5 billion bid for Cigna Corp and Aetna, Inc. proposed a takeover of Humana Inc. Meanwhile, UnitedHealth Group, currently the nation’s largest insurer, also approached Aetna. These deals, if they come to fruition, would create a trinity of mega-insurance companies, each one generating more than $100 billion revenue annually. Justice Department officials have geared up to examine the mergers to see if they would benefit consumers. A study by the American Medical Association (AMA), however, suggests that may not be the case, pointing out that a small group of companies already dominate a significant number of insurance markets in the United States. The consolidation...

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FDA Approves OxyContin For Young Kids 11 to 16

by Amanda Froelich – OxyContin is a HIGHLY addictive opioid responsible for 17,000 deaths in 2011. Is it truly intelligent to prescribe it to 5th graders? In late August, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the painkiller OxyContin for use in young kids aged 11 to 16 years of age. It is well known that prescription opioids like OxyContin are “addictive” and could lead to heroin use, as the National Institute on Drug Abuse previously shared. So is this just another method of hooking a young demographic on pharmaceutical drugs when other tried and true methods have shown natural forms of pain alleviation? (Cannabis, anyone?) This pharmaceutical drug is a powerful prescription opioid that essentially blocks pain receptors in the central nervous system. OxyContin is an extended-release form of oxycodone, therefore it requires fewer and less frequent doses to effectively manage pain. This function is seen by Herz as...

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Modafinil is the First Confirmed Drug That Makes You Smarter

By Tibi Puiu, ZMEScience – Though initially made for narcoleptics (people having trouble sleeping), many soon caught on that modafinil can enhance cognitive abilities. Right now, it’s a favorite among students who use it when preparing for exams with visible results, they claim. But modafinil isn’t the first such “smart drug” we’ve come across. It’s likely that you’ve seen some TV or internet ads marketing ‘smart pills’ that supposedly enhance cognitive abilities, but with mere anecdotal evidence backing it up. In contrast, modafinil really seems to be a legit smart drug, according to a systematic review of reports documenting the effects of the drug. The meta-analysis was made by a team at University of Oxford and Harvard Medical School. The researchers looked at the studies documenting the cognitive enhancing effects of modafinil published between January 1990 and December 2014. In total, 24 such studies were identified which discussed modafinil...

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National Cancer Institute Finally Concedes: ‘Cannabis Kills Cancer’

By SARAH, Addicting Info – For far too long we have been told about the “dangers” of cannabis. That it is an illegal drug that can cause us harm. However, the United States government is finally owning up to the benefits of cannabis. Not only that, they now have studied, and are conceding, that it can actually kill cancer cells. Now, when you visit the NIH National Cancer Institute’s PDQ updated website summary for “Cannabis and Cannabinoids” you will see a very conflicting message — Cannabis kills cancer, but it is still illegal on a national level. Yes, something that kills cancer cells is still considered illegal in the United States. If that doesn’t make you furious, I don’t think much of anything else will. If you’re unfamiliar with the term cannabinoids, they are described as such: “Currently, the two main cannabinoids from the marijuana plant that are of medical...

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Here Are Just A Few Of The Medical Advances Made Possible By Fetal Tissue Donation

by ELIZABETH PRESTON – In the wake of the overly edited and misleading videos released to slander Planned Parenthood, much information has been floating around about the “selling of baby parts.” As most reasonable people understand, there is no black market sale of dead babies — there were no abhorrent practices of auctioning off kidneys to the highest bidder nor were Atheists lining up around the corners of clinics to purchase dead babies by the pound for a Tuesday stew. But, in all seriousness, what has been happening is, for a nominal processing fee (because people don’t work without pay, and electric bills do not pay themselves, nor do packages of tissue for research just teleport automatically to a scientist’s lab) fetal tissue from abortions, with the woman’s consent, is being legally provided for medical research — research that has contributed to medical advances, making life a little more livable for millions of people around...

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No Escaping Medical Copayments, Even in Prison

By Michael Ollove, Stateline – Even going to prison doesn’t spare patients from having to pay medical copays. In response to the rapidly rising cost of providing health care, states are increasingly authorizing the collection of fees from prisoners for medical services they receive while in state prisons or local jails. At least 38 states now do it, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law and Stateline reporting. The fees are typically small, $20 or less. And states must waive them when a prisoner is unable to pay but still needs care, in keeping with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that prisoners have a constitutional right to “adequate” health care. The rationale for charging copays is the same for prisoners as it is for people not behind bars: to discourage seeking medical care when it is not really needed. “We do it for...

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Court Smacks Down Pharmacy That Refused To Fill Prescriptions On Religious Grounds

by IAN MILLHISER – Pharmacy owners do not have a constitutional right to refuse to dispense medicines that they object to on religious grounds, according to a decision handed down Thursday by a federal appeals court. Had the plaintiffs in this case prevailed, it would have not only permitted them to refuse to fill many birth control prescriptions (which is what these particular plaintiffs hoped to achieve), but it could have also potentially enabled pharmacists to refuse to fill a long list of prescriptions, including “diabetic syringes, insulin, HIV-related medications, and Valium.” Stormans v. Wiesman concerned a Washington state rule that permits individual pharmacists to refuse to fill a particular prescription “so long as another pharmacist working for the pharmacy provides timely delivery,” but does not generally allow the pharmacy itself to refuse to deliver a prescription “even if the owner of the pharmacy has a religious objection.” Intervenors in...

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Doctor Throws Breastfeeding Mom Out Of Office Because ‘It Makes Him Uncomfortable’ (VIDEO)

By VERA, Addicting Info – A new mom struggling with postpartum depression was kicked out of her doctor’s office for nursing her baby — despite the fact that she’d waited two months to get an appointment. According to her, Nichole Moore from St. Petersburg, Florida, was sitting in psychiatrist Dr. Mark Simko’s waiting room for 30 minutes before her appointment. Because she was unable to find a babysitter, Moore was accompanied by Emma, her 8-month-old daughter. Although Emma slept through the half-hour wait to see Simko, she woke up during Moore’s appointment and needed to be fed. Because public breastfeeding is legal in the state of Florida, Moore decided to breastfeed her baby – and it was all downhill from there: “He told me I couldn’t because I wouldn’t be giving me his full attention. I said, ‘Are you kidding me?!’ I can do both, and I told him that I’ve never had an issue multi-tasking in any...

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This 19-Year-Old May Have Discovered Cure For Colon Cancer

By Amanda Froelich, True Activist – As the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the world, colorectal cancer is a concern not to be taken lightly. It is estimated that 1.4 million cases were diagnosed in 2012, and without proper dietary and lifestyle modifications, will only increase in the near future. And while a pescetarian diet (vegetarian that includes fish) is estimated to But while a pescetarian diet (vegetarian that includes fish) is estimated to reduce one’s likelihood of developing cancer of the colon by at least 20%, a Chicago-based teen may be on the leading edge of a new breakthrough that has potential to eradicate the disease completely. While working at a Rush University lab while still in high school, 19-year-old Kevin created tests with an experimental colon cancer vaccine that proved 100 percent effective in tests on young mice. A vaccine is now being developed that...

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There Used To Be A Vaccine For Lyme Disease, Till Anti-Vaxxers Stepped In

By WENDY GITTLESON, Addicting Info – It’s springtime, which means that something as innocent as tall grass gives images of creepy crawlies and not-at-all-sexy naked tick checks. It’s even worse when a pet has been exposed and you have to find a tiny tick through a thick layer of fur. Not all ticks are dangerous, but there are certain kinds of ticks that carry Lyme disease, which can be transmitted to humans and pets. The symptoms of Lyme disease are awful and can include fevers, rashes, a droopy face, severe headaches, stiff neck, meningitis, painful and swollen joints, arthritis, shooting pains and heart palpitations. The symptoms can last months or entire lives, although most patients can make a full recovery with antibiotics. If there was ever a symbol for the damage that the anti-science crowd can do to society, it’s Lyme disease. Right now, we are in the middle of...

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The Dramatic New Evidence About The Best Way To Treat HIV

by TARA CULP-RESSLER – A major international clinical trial funded by the National Institutes for Health (NIH) has been cut short a year early, now that researchers have documented such compelling results about the right way to deliver HIV treatment. The Strategic Timing of AntiRetroviral Treatment (START) study, which has been tracking more than 4,600 HIV-positive people in dozens of countries since 2011, aimed to figure out when patients should begin taking a combination of drugs that can effectively suppress the virus. Antiretroviral drugs are a major advance in HIV treatment that allow many HIV-positive individuals to live long and healthy lives. But, since the drugs can also come with significant side effects, global health experts have been hesitant to recommend prescribing them too early. The START study wanted to see whether it was better to start anti-retroviral therapy immediately, when HIV patients are still relatively healthy, or wait until their...

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Antibiotic-Resistant Typhoid Spreading Across Asia, Africa

Areas lacking clean water, effective sanitation most at risk, experts say HealthDay News – An antibiotic-resistant strain of the bacteria that causes typhoid fever has spread to many countries and reached epidemic levels in Africa, a new study warns. The strain, H58, emerged in South Asia between 25 and 30 years ago and has slowly grown to become one of the predominant forms of the bacteria Salmonella Typhi, said study author Vanessa Wong, a microbiologist at the University of Cambridge in England. “This multidrug-resistant strain, H58, is resistant to a number of first-line antibiotics used to treat the disease and is continuing to evolve and acquire new mutations to newer drugs,” Wong said. Typhoid presents no direct threat to people living in the United States, where clean water supplies and good sanitation prevent exposure to the bacteria, said Dr. Henry Chambers, chief of infectious diseases at San Francisco General...

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How The FDA’s Revised Blood Ban Caters To Religious Anti-Gay Beliefs

By ZACK FORD, ThinkProgress – The Food and Drug Administration has released a draft of its new policy lifting the permanent ban on blood donation for men who have sex with men (MSM). As was indicated when the change was first proposed in December, having sex with another man no longer bans a man from giving blood for life, but instead for one full year since the last such sexual encounter. This also impacts women who’ve had sex with a man who’s had sex with a man in the past year. As numerous detractors have already pointed out, the ban on gay and bi men donating blood de facto remains in place with this change, unnecessarily discriminating without a rational public health benefit. Estimates have shown that lifting the ban on MSM blood donation could save as many 657,000 more lives every year, and the effectiveness of blood testing has reduced...

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Oklahoma’s Female Governor Signs Bill Tripling Wait Period for an Abortion

By Kerry Eleveld, Daily Kos – Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed a bill Wednesday requiring women to wait three days (72 hours, to be exact) before getting an abortion. Oklahoma is the fourth such state to do so and Fallin, a Republican, rushed to relay all the benefits of the law for women across the state. Rick Green reports: “This legislation will help women get the information they need before making a decision they can’t take back,” said Fallin. “It will allow for more time to consider medical risks as well as explore alternatives to abortion, such as adoption.” In reality, it’s just one more opportunity for the government to shame women for another few days. House Bill 1409 also requires abortion clinics that operate a website to add a link to the state’s website, “A Woman’s Right to Know” — www.awomansright.org. The site has a photo of a tiny...

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Marijuana Legalization Bill Advances in Texas

Medical cannabis and decriminalization of possession also win committee approval by Jacob Sullum – Remember David Simpson, the self-described constitutional conservative who opposes marijuana prohibition on Christian grounds and wants to legalize the plant in Texas? Yesterday his legalization bill, which eliminates marijuana offenses (except for sales to minors) from the Texas criminal code, cleared the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, making it theoretically possible that it will get a floor vote. The committee vote was 5 to 2, with Simpson (R-Longview) joined by one Republican, Todd Hunter (Corpus Christi), and three Democrats—Abel Herrero (Robstown), Joe Moody (El Paso), and Terry Canales (Edinburg)—in supporting the bill. Jeff Leach and Matt Shaheen, both Republicans representing the Dallas suburb of Plano, voted no. Simpson’s bill, H.B. 2165, is the third marijuana reform measure to win committee approval this week. On Monday the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee voted 4 to 2 in favor of H.B. 507, which...

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Tiny Cellular Bubbles Enable Delivery of Parkinson’s Drugs Straight to the Brain

By Nick Lavars, Gizmag – A natural enzyme called catalase may prove hugely significant in treating neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s. These extremely potent antioxidants can tackle neuron-killing inflammation with an effectiveness unparalleled by small molecule drugs. But there’s a problem, they are big. So big that getting them through the blood-brain barrier for delivery straight to the brain is nearly impossible. But researchers have now discovered that loading them into tiny, naturally occurring bubbles allows them to sneak past the brain’s defenses, pointing to the possibility of improved treatments for such conditions. Led by Dr Elena Batrakova at the University of North Carolina, scientists extracted what are called exosomes from human immune cells. These microscopic bubbles have a role to play in conditions like AIDS and cancer, as they are hijacked to facilitate the spread of diseases around the body. In this case, the researchers were able to...

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House Republicans Vote To Allow DC Employers To Fire Women For Using Birth Control

By STEPHEN D FOSTER JR, Addicting Info – House Republicans quietly voted to overturn a local D.C. law Thursday night that bars discrimination against women who exercise their reproductive rights. The Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act became law in 2014 but anti-women Republicans introduced H.J. Resolution 43 to destroy it. Raw Story contributor Joan Schipp described the debate and her own effort to report on it: Thursday’s House floor debate kicked off after 9:00 PM. Before I entered the doors to the House Gallery, I complied with a police request to forfeit all my electronic devices. I inquired if I could get a press pass so I could take pictures. After a few radio calls, officials on the scene told me I could not have a press pass. So I relinquished my phone and proceeded to go in the Gallery anyway. In addition, Schipp was also prohibited from taking notes by...

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Why The Next President May Have To Support Marijuana Legalization

by CARIMAH TOWNES – If presidential candidates want the backing of three major swing states in 2016, they may have to support the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana. According to Quinnipiac University’s Swing State Poll, the vast majority of voters in Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania are pro pot. In both Ohio and Florida, 84 percent of voters support medical marijuana, while 88 percent favor it in Pennsylvania. Although the majorities are much smaller, 55 percent, 52 percent, and 51 percent of voters favor the possession of “small amounts of marijuana for personal use” in Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, respectively. Ironically, voters in the three states are more interested in the idea of legalization than anything else, as most don’t actually plan on using it. More than 80 percent of people polled in each state said they “definitely” or “probably” would not use it themselves. In response to the poll,...

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How Anyone Who Works At An Abortion Clinic Becomes Target For Violence, Harassment

By TARA CULP-RESSLER, ThinkProgress – Joan, the president of a network of women’s health clinics in the Rocky Mountain region of the United States, isn’t comfortable using her real name in this story because her private residence was vandalized last year. Someone threw a bucket of red paint all over her house. “It went on every surface — the door, the walkway, the screens, the glass, the wood, my Christmas wreath, my welcome mat. Everything. It was just a mess,” Joan recounted in an interview with ThinkProgress. She told the police that, considering where she works, she was pretty sure it was anti-abortion harassment. There wasn’t much the cops could do. Ascribing blame to the anti-abortion movement — whose particularly far-right actors regularly picket at abortion providers’ private homes, and occasionally use sidewalk chalk to scrawl messages declaring them to be “serial killers” and “monsters” — wasn’t totally a shot...

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New Specialty Medicines Drive Up Drug Spending

HealthDay News – New medicines targeting conditions like hepatitis C, cancer and multiple sclerosis helped to propel drug spending to its highest level in more than a decade, a new report finds. Medicine sales jumped 13 percent, to nearly $374 billion, in 2014 after a period of mostly low single-digit growth, according to the report released Tuesday by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics in Parsippany, N.J. Last year’s increase was the largest since 2001, as spending rose 17 percent to nearly $174 billion on the growth of new “blockbuster” drugs, the report said. For the report, the IMS Institute tallies U.S. drug spending across all settings – from hospitals to retail pharmacies – and outlines the forces channeling that growth. The institute received no drug company or government funding for the report. New drug innovation, higher sticker prices and fewer patent expirations on brand-name medications led to sharply...

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Why Chris Christie’s Vow to Suppress Marijuana Legalization Is Risky

by Jacob Sullum – In an interview with talk radio host Hugh Hewitt last week, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie declared that if he were president, he would “crack down and not permit” state legalization of marijuana. As far as I know, that makes him the first contender for the Republican presidential nomination to take that position. By contrast, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, and Rick Perry all have said that states should be free to legalize marijuana without interference by the federal government. If Christie thinks that promising to override state policy choices in this area will endear him to skeptical conservatives, he may be wrong about that. According to a Pew Research Center survey conducted last month, Republicans as well as Democrats agree with Paul et al. that the federal government should not try to suppress newly legal marijuana industries in states such as Colorado and Washington. Asked whether the federal government should “enforce federal...

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Newly Discovered Protein Ramps Up Immune Response to Cancer

By  Nick Lavars, Gizmag – One of the body’s defenses against deadly cancer cells may have just received a much-needed boost. Researchers at Imperial College London have happened upon a previously unknown protein that ramps up the presence of all-important cytotoxic T cells, which destroy virus-infected and cancerous cells. The scientists have named their discovery lymphocyte expansion molecule (LEM), which they unearthed while screening mice with genetic mutations. The found that a particular strain of mice was producing 10 times the normal amount of cytotoxic T cells once it had been infected with a virus. The result was an improved ability to contain the virus and a heightened resistance to cancer. The cause for this boost in immune response, the scientists found, was the huge presence of a particular protein, their new friend LEM. Following this finding, the scientists were able to establish that LEM also regulates the levels...

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Maple Syrup Extract Shows Promise in Fight Against Superbugs

By Nick Lavars, Gizmag – Researchers at Canada’s McGill University have uncovered what could be a pretty sweet way of warding off bacteria. The scientists developed a concentrated extract of maple syrup and combined it with antibiotics, finding that it heightened bacteria’s vulnerability, suggesting it could prove an effective way of lowering dosages required to treat infections and help to hamper the evolution of drug-resistant superbugs. Starting with off-the-shelf maple syrup from a Montreal market, the scientists first froze the product and then extracted a concentrate rich in molecules known as phenolic compounds. They then exposed various strains of bacteria to the extract, such as E. coliand Proteus mirabilis, a common culprit of urinary tract infection. When used on its own, the researchers found the extract to have a small effect on the bacteria, but using it in conjunction with common antibiotics saw it take on a whole new...

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Elmo And The Surgeon General Ponder Why Some People Don’t Get Vaccinated (VIDEO)

by NICOLE FLATOW – Just a few months into his tenure as U.S. Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy has launched a campaign to encourage vaccinations, using none other than Sesame Street superstar Elmo. “Those are the shots that help you stay healthy,” Murthy tells Elmo in the short YouTube video. “Don’t worry, Elmo,” Murthy says. “It’s just a little pinch. And it’s safe.” After which Elimo encourages the audience to “Get vaccinated with Elmo!” Watch it: In a second longer video produced with the Daily Dot, Elmo is actually vaccinated after Murthy explains the science behind vaccines. Elmo hums the lyrics to Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” as he is administered the seemingly painless shot, after which Elmo ponders, “Why doesn’t everybody get a vaccination?” “That’s a good question, Elmo,” Vivek says. And then they stare into the camera looking puzzled, as the camera fades out. The campaign comes as the...

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Kansas Medical Marijuana Activist Arrested, Son Taken Away After Boy Spoke Up to D.A.R.E. Officer (VIDEO)

By Jen Hayden, Daily Kos – Shona Banda is a medical marijuana activist living in Garden City, Kansas. She suffered Crohn’s Disease for years before discovering cannabis oil helped to control her symptoms. She was so impressed with marijuana’s ability to control her symptoms that she became an activist to help others. Her 11-year-old son was at school listening to a talk by a D.A.R.E (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) police officer when he chimed with some counter information about medical marijuana and things have gotten out of hand from there: As Shona’s son listened to the misinformation given by authorities to his class during the drug education presentation, he courageously spoke up and informed them that the information they were relating was incorrect in regards to cannabis. He was pulled from class and sent to the office for questioning by authorities without his mother present.When he failed to return home...

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Walmart Pharmacist Refuses To Fill Prescription For Miscarriage Patient Citing ‘Conscience Clause’

by JAMESON PARKER – A woman who had just tragically suffered a miscarriage was unable to get the medically necessary drugs her doctor ordered for her because the pharmacist at her local Walmart refused to fill it. About five weeks into her pregnancy, Brittany Cartrett was told by her doctor that the child hadn’t made it. To avoid serious health consequences that may come with a miscarriage, she was given two options: an invasive “dilation and curettage” procedure which would surgically remove the contents of the uterus, or a pill that would have the same effect but would be less invasive. She opted for the second option. Unfortunately, getting the medicine in order to treat herself proved difficult because of a Walmart pharmacist’s refusal to help her. Cartrett recounted her infuriating incident with Georgia news station WGXA (emphasis added): “So we made the decision to not do a D&C and to get...

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1,000-year-old Garlic Remedy Treats Superbugs Better than Modern Antibiotics

By Mihai Andrei, ZMEScience – 1,000 year old Anglo-Saxon ‘eye salve’ made from onion, garlic, wine and part of a cow’s stomach wipes out 90 percent of antibiotic-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) – much better than most modern antibiotics. It also does a great job at treating styes, small abscesses on the eyelid. “Take cropleek and garlic, of both equal quantities, pound them well together… take wine and bullocks gall, mix with the leek… let it stand nine days in the brass vessel…” – so goes a thousand year old Anglo-Saxon recipe to vanquish a stye, an infected eyelash follicle. The 9th Century ‘eye salve’ recipe was found in a manuscript in the British Library. Initially, linguists had to translate it from ye olde Anglo Saxon, and then other researchers recreated it and tested its efficiency. They were absolutely shocked to see just how effective it was. “We did not see this coming at all,” said microbiologist...

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More States Demand Notification to Use Biosimilar Drugs

By Michael Ollove, Stateline – Without the medicine Rachelle Crow takes for her rheumatoid arthritis, the 29-year-old Michigan woman’s face would frequently feel as if it were engulfed in flames. She would barely be able to crawl out of bed. She would have trouble opening or closing her fists or lifting her 3-year-old daughter. Crow can do all those things thanks to Cimzia, one of a highly complex, usually expensive class of drugs known as biologics that derive from living organisms. Cimzia is recommended for women, like Crow, who are trying to get pregnant. What keeps her up at night is a fear that a pharmacy could substitute a cheaper, not-quite identical drug for Cimzia without her or her doctor’s knowledge. It’s not only a return of her worst symptoms that she worries about. “If another medicine were substituted without telling me or my doctor, it could put my...

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Pharmacists Take A Vote: No More Participation In Executions

by DEBORAH MONTESANO – On Monday, the American Pharmacists Association took a vote on participating in the administration of lethal drugs to death row inmates. They’ve adopted a new policy that brings them into line with the ethical standards of physicians, nurses, and anesthesiologists. Their statement says: The American Pharmacists Association discourages pharmacist participation in executions on the basis that such activities are fundamentally contrary to the role of pharmacists as providers of health care. The position isn’t legally binding, but the group’s 62,000 credentialed members are likely to observe the change, creating an even bigger dilemma for death penalty states than already exist. Pharmaceutical companies have already dropped out of the business of providing lethal drugs to prisons. That development is largely due to protesters who object to the use of the death penalty and who drew unwanted attention to the companies who sold drugs for executions. Such actions have a...

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With New Abortion Bill, Arizona May Make Medical Malpractice into Law

‘This is unacceptable and not how safe medical care of any kind is provided,’ says women’s health advocate By Deirdre Fulton, Common Dreams – Arizona’s governor signed an extreme abortion restriction bill on Monday, which women’s health advocates say effectively writes medical malpractice into law. The new law, which passed the state’s Republican-controlled legislature last week, requires that doctors tell women that drug-induced abortions can be reversed. Experts said the provision — the first of its kind to pass in the U.S. — was medically unfounded. “This law will force abortion providers to give patients information about medical abortion care that is unsubstantiated and not supported by evidence — even abortion opponents admit there is no medical proof to support this information,” said Vicki Saporta, president and CEO of the National Abortion Federation. “This is unacceptable and not how safe medical care of any kind is provided.” The LA Times reported...

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‘No Worse Than Bombing An Abortion Clinic’: Anti-Vaxxers Celebrate Murders Of Four Polio Vaccinators

by VALERIE BEAUMONT – The anti-vaccine crowd may be dangerously and irreparably stupid, but it is surprising that even this particular mob of willful scientific illiterates and conspiracy theorists would stoop to actually celebrating the deaths of other humans. Unfortunately, this is the point the anti-vaccine movement has reached. Last week, gunmen opened fire on a team of polio vaccinators in southwestern Pakistan. Four of the workers died, and police were forced to halt a much-needed immunization drive. Pakistan is one of the few countries left where polio is a regular threat and, while vaccination teams have helped the situation some, violent extremists have seized upon the opportunity to lash out against what they view as a  “conspiracy of Jews and Christians to make Muslims impotent and stunt the growth of Muslims.” Anti-vaxxers have long touted supposed “sterilization agents” in vaccines — false claims that could only be believed by the...

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Anti-Obamacare Sheriff Now Says He Needs $60,000 For Medical Bills, Still Refuses To Get Insurance

by JAMESON PARKER – Not content to merely cut off his nose to spite his face, an Arizona conservative sheriff has chopped off his whole head to spite Obama. Recently, Sheriff Richard Mack, who brands himself as the “Constitutional Sheriff,” had a major heart attack. Thankfully, he survived, but was left in crippling debt from medical expenses. No problem, you might think. The new healthcare laws under the Affordable Care Act help prevent this exact thing from happening. Mack is just luckily he had his heart attack after the law was enacted. . . .but not so fast. Mack never got health insurance under the ACA. He abstained from becoming insured as an expression of protest against the “socialist” Obamacare. Or as Mack put it on a recent radio show: Well, I don’t care what you call it, it’s a socialistic program that I totally disagreed with and still do, and as...

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Arizona May Force Doctors To Tell Women Their Abortion Can Be Reversed

by TARA CULP-RESSLER – Doctors in Arizona may soon be required to tell their patients about an unscientific and unproven method of “reversing” an abortion, if Gov. Doug Ducey (R) approves a bill that the legislature sent to his desk this week. The bill in question, SB 1318, was originally intended to restrict insurance coverage for abortion services. While that’s still the main function of the legislation, one Republican lawmaker in the state also tacked on a provision requiring doctors to tell patients that “it may be possible to reverse the effects of a medication abortion if the woman changes her mind.” Arizona is the first state to pass this type of requirement, although a similar bill is also currently advancing in Arkansas. So-called “abortion reversal” involves injecting the hormone progesterone into a patient after she has taken mifepristone, the first dose in the two-part process to terminate a first-trimester pregnancy with...

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House Passes Medicare Reform Bill, But Critics Warn Beneficiaries Will Pay the Price

As is too often the case, bipartisanship in Congress results in society’s most vulnerable being asked to sacrifice the most in return for less by Jon Queally – As leaders of the Republican and Democratic Parties in the House of Representatives were congratulating themselves on passing an actual piece of legislation on Thursday, critics of the bill aimed at restructuring Medicare payments to providers are warning—despite the feel-good mood provided by the bipartisan achievement—it will be the elderly and low-income beneficiaries of the program who will ultimately pay the heaviest price if the proposed changes become law. The Hill reports: The House on Thursday overwhelmingly voted to repeal automatic payment cuts to doctors under Medicare, endorsing a rare bipartisan deal that Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) negotiated with Democrats. The bill, which passed by a vote of 392-37, puts Congress on the precipice of ending a fight nearly two decades old over...

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Pharmacists Are Getting Closer To Cutting Off Access To Death Penalty Drugs

by TARA CULP-RESSLER – It may soon become harder for state officials to get their hands on the drugs they need to execute inmates, as major pharmacist organizations keep inching closer toward ceasing to supply that medication. Pharmacists seem like unlikely targets in the political and ethical debate over the death penalty. But, since they’re the ones who manufacture and distribute lethal drugs, they actually play a key role in the executions of condemned prisoners. For the states that are regularly executing inmates, American pharmacies have become particularly critical in the wake of growing international opposition to capital punishment. As European companies refuse to sell drugs for use in executions, there’s somewhat of a lethal drug shortage here at home. Officials have started turning to so-called “compounding pharmacies,” which are facilities that mix and repackage drugs to keep down the cost of filling prescriptions, for their supplies. But that option...

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Q&A: Could States with Federal Exchanges Easily Launch Their Own?

by Christine Vestal – The Obama administration says it does not have a contingency plan if the U.S. Supreme Court rules against federal tax subsidies in King v. Burwell.  But lawmakers in at least nine states are proposing backstop measures that legal experts say could work. At issue is whether residents of the 34 states where the federal government runs the health insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act can receive premium tax subsidies.  Affordable Care Act opponents argue that a strict interpretation of the language in the statute indicates people can only receive federal subsidies if they purchase policies on an “exchange established by the state.” If the high court sides with the plaintiffs, what’s to stop states from quickly establishing a state exchange? Florida, Indiana, Maine, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas have bills that would jumpstart the process. How easy would it be...

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Pulseless Bionic Heart Tested on Sheep

By Mihai Andrei, ZMEScience – Scientists in Australia have developed a groundbreaking bionic heart that works without having a pulse. The device, which was successfully tested on a sheep, is set to start clinical trials within three years. The device was developed by Brisbane engineer Dr Daniel Timms, who instigated the project in 2001 while studying at the Queensland University of Technology. The mechanism is, at its core, fairly simple; it has a spinning disc with small blades on each side that pump blood around the body and lungs, without actually beating. In other words, the user of this bionic heart wouldn’t have a pulse. The small bladed disks, which spin at 2,000 revolutions per minute, represent a significant change in departure from traditional pulse-based designs. Timms explained that the device, called BiVACOR, could last ten years longer than previous designs due to the lack of wear and tear on the components. “There were...

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Non-invasive Alzheimer’s Treatment Restores Memory Using Ultrasound

By Colin Jeffrey, Gizmag – Alzheimer’s disease is a chronic neurodegenerative disease that most often begins in people over 65 years of age. Usually it starts slowly and continues to worsen over time until the sufferer succumbs to an increasing loss of memory, bodily functions and, eventually, death. Research has shown that there is an association with Alzheimer’s and the accumulation of plaques that affect the neuronal connections in the brain. Now researchers at the University of Queensland have discovered a new way to remove these toxic plaques using a non-invasive form of ultrasound therapy. Amyloid-β (Aβ) peptide – composed of some 36 to 43 amino acids – has been the plaque associated with the development and progression of Alzheimer’s disease for some time now. As such, some research into removing this toxic substance from human brains has been conducted, but almost invariably requires invasive pharmaceutical intervention which is...

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Genetically Speaking, You’re More Like Your Dad

By Mihai Andrei, ZMEScience –  You may look more like your mom or more like your dad, but technically, you inherit equal amounts of genetic information from both. However, a new study has shown that you (and all mammals for that matter,) are genetically more like their dads. If that sounds a bit confusing… well, it is. Specifically, although we inherit equal amounts of genetic mutations from both our parents, the mutations that make us who we are and not some other person actually ‘use’ more of the DNA that we inherit from our dads. The research has significant implications for treating several genetic diseases, but also for research models and some psychological studies. For instance, when conducting research on mice, scientists don’t take into consideration whether specific genetic expression originates from mothers or fathers, which may actually influence the results of the research. “This is an exceptional new research finding that opens...

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How The Senate’s New Medical Marijuana Proposal Would Change The Game On Pot

by NICOLE FLATOW – As Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) was announcing her landmark proposal to reform federal marijuana laws Tuesday, a four-year-old child named Morgan had a small seizure in the audience. Morgan has seizures so severe that she can’t sit, stand, or crawl independently. She can’t speak. She’s been hospitalized numerous times, and has never gone more than four weeks without a serious seizure. And at this point, her mother Kate Hintz said during the announcement, “we will never know what has affected her more. Her uncontrolled seizures or the mountains of medication she has taken in her life.” Kate was one of many parents who found, after years of using severe barbiturates to unsuccessfully treat their symptoms that marijuana was the only thing that helped their child. A bill introduced in the Senate Tuesday would for the first time since Congress passed the current drug prohibition scheme in...

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Pharmaceutical Company With Monopoly On Lifesaving Treatment Jacks Up Prices

by SAM P.K. COLLINS – The ongoing fight over Big Pharma’s pricing policies continues as congressional leaders shift their focus to a drug that police departments use to treat heroin overdoses. While law enforcement agencies have become more accepting of this approach to combat drug abuse, recent price spikes put the future of city and state distribution programs in jeopardy. Earlier this week, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) blasted Amphaster Pharmaceuticals, the maker of the drug naloxone, in a letter in which the duo questioned the rationale of increasing the price of the drug during a time when heroin overdose deaths have more than tripled within a three-year period. “Over the past several months, police departments, law enforcement agencies, and public health officials across the country have warned about the increasing price of naloxone, which they use to combat the scourge of heroin abuse,” Sanders and...

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Could Coffee Lower Risk of Multiple Sclerosis?

Studies link several cups daily with reduced odds HealthDay News – People who down several cups of coffee every day may have a decreased risk of developing multiple sclerosis, a new study suggests. The study, of 5,600 Swedish and U.S. adults, found that those who drank four to six cups of coffee a day were about one-third less likely to develop multiple sclerosis (MS), compared with people who did not drink coffee. Researchers stressed that the findings do not prove that coffee fights MS – a disease in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the protective sheath around nerve fibers in the brain and spine. Symptoms can include muscle weakness, numbness, vision problems and difficulty with balance and coordination. “This doesn’t mean we should be recommending rampant coffee drinking,” said lead researcher Dr. Ellen Mowry, an assistant professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. There could, for...

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