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Archive for August, 2010

AARP Says Brand-Name Drug Prices Up 8% in 2009

The Ethics Of Overseas Pediatric Clinical Trials

Pharmacy Lobby Opposes Survey Regarding Medicaid Prices

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That might be the conclusion drawn by readers of a recent article in Bloomberg Businessweek. Recession Causing Cancer Patients to Quit Life-Extending Drugs which was the August 4 feature in  the Executive Health column. This news story earned billing as  the Outrage of the Week in  NLARx News from the National Legislative Association on Prescription Drug Prices.  The original article discusses the dire plight of patients  in California with GIST ( gastrointestinal stromal tumor) who lost their jobs and hence insurance, and  are no longer able to afford the Gleevec which has been keeping them alive to the tune of $5000/month.  Or for those who still have insurance, the unaffordable cost of the co-pays, often 50-70% of the Rx retail cost, in accordance with the now-common tiered formulary systems.  Equally outrageous however is that the article completely misses the boat when discussing remedies for the situation.  Author Amanda Gardner describes how patient assistance programs (PAPs) may be available temporarily for some patients as a stop-gap measure, and posits how things should get better  as the provisions of  the Affordable Care Act  roll out.  In the meantime, however,  the very survival of many of the patients  described is in jeopardy  with no solution in sight, if we are to believe such spokespeople as  Stepehn Finan, senior policy director of the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network , who was quoted stating that [the PAPs]

…….. are the only real options at this point for people who are pressed to afford their prescription costs.

Yet the urgent need for something to be done about the exorbitant price of drugs  is not mentioned in this article. Unaffordable medicines are not inevitable. Real remedies exist such as allowing CMS to negotiate for drug prices like the VA does,  instituting price controls, and allowing  prompt development of generics of the most costly drugs. The grip of Big Biopharma  lobbyists on Congress will remain strong if the public continues to believe that nothing can be done.

For the record, the vast majority of funding for the research that led to creation of Gleevec came from government coffers and nonprofit sector sources, and drug’s first US patent expires in 2015.

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No surprise to me read to read the WSJ report Charity Brawl: Nonprofits Aren’t So Generous When a Name’s at Stake, detailing how the Susan G. Komen Foundation is aggressively going after small disease charities who use the phrase “for the cure” and/or the color pink in their fundraising efforts and programming.  The article includes details on other big box charities who engage in the same snarky practices, as  this kind of uncharitable behavior is increasingly the norm.  Here’s hoping that a dose of sunshine will not only lead to reform but  serve to wake up the public to the realities of what’s really going on with the increasingly corporatized nonprofit sector.

Hat tip to Gary Schwitzer  for his HealthNewsReview post  Who owns pink ideas or cure slogans? Welcome to the Charity Brawl.

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Here are just a few news items on the health front:

Make Way for MacPAC, the New Kid on Washington’s Health Policy Block

HHS: Insurers in Individual Market Need Not Enroll Kids All Year

Patients Seek To Break Patent On Genzyme Drug

FDA Advisory Panel Recommends End to Avastin for Advanced Breast Cancer

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