Zombie patents: Drug companies are adept at extending the lifespan of patents, at consumers’ expense

Zombie patents: Drug companies are adept at extending the lifespan of patents, at consumers’ expense

Jun 21st 2014 | From the print edition

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IT IS hard to think of an industry in which competition is more important than pharmaceuticals. As health-care costs rocket, the price cuts—often of 85% or more—that generic drugs offer are one easy way to economise. Ibuprofen is a good example. In the early 1980s the drug, which soothes both pain and inflammation, was a costly patented product. Today Boots, a British chemist, sells 16 generic tablets for 40 pence (68 cents), just 2.5 pence per pill. In America, the drug can be bought in bulk for a penny a pop. Indeed, competition from generics is so painful to drugs companies that they have invented a series of ingenious palliatives, exploiting patent laws to help maintain high prices. Read more of this post

Treating diabetes: There’s an app for that; How software can make diabetics’ lives safer and simpler

Treating diabetes: There’s an app for that; How software can make diabetics’ lives safer and simpler

Jun 21st 2014 | New York | From the print edition

IF DIABETICS are to keep their blood-sugar levels in a healthy range, they must rely not only on periodic visits to the doctor, but also on careful daily management of their medicine, meals and exercise. For years, this regime included regular self-administered blood-sugar tests and similarly self-administered insulin injections. Now, in the better-off parts of the world at least, these things can be automated. There are gadgets that monitor sugar levels, and implanted pumps that deliver insulin. But Ed Damiano of Boston University and Steven Russell of Massachusetts General Hospital think things could be improved further by using software to make these devices work together as what would, in effect, be an artificial pancreas. Read more of this post

Rain mouse: Recent experiments give a glimmer of hope for a treatment for autism

Rain mouse: Recent experiments give a glimmer of hope for a treatment for autism

Jun 21st 2014 | From the print edition

WHAT causes autism is a mystery. One theory is that a phenomenon called the cellular-danger response lies at the root of it. The CDR makes cells put their ordinary activities on hold and instead switch on their defence systems, in reaction to high levels in the bloodstream of chemicals called purines. These are important and widespread substances: ATP, a molecule that shuttles energy around cells, is a purine; so are half the “genetic letters” in DNA. Cells under viral attack tend to shed them. Too many of them in the blood can thus be a signal of viral infection. In that case activating the CDR makes perfect sense. But studies have shown that people with autism (and also those with some other brain conditions, such as schizophrenia) often seem to have chronic CDR. The purine signal has somehow got stuck in the “on” position. Read more of this post

Cancer Doctors Ring Up Big Medicare Bills for Tarnished Drug Procrit; Florida Oncology Group Stands Out Among Its Peers for Use of Pricey Drug

Cancer Doctors Ring Up Big Medicare Bills for Tarnished Drug Procrit

Florida Oncology Group Stands Out Among Its Peers for Use of Pricey Drug

CHRISTOPHER WEAVER, ANNA WILDE MATHEWS and TOM MCGINTY

Updated June 19, 2014 2:55 p.m. ET

Many cancer doctors now use a drug called Procrit sparingly.

It was approved in 1989 for anemia and became a popular treatment for that side effect of chemotherapy. But regulators later learned Procrit can speed tumor growth and hasten death in cancer patients. Today, use of this class of drug—best known as EPO, a substance Lance Armstrong took illicitly to pedal faster and longer—is sharply restricted.

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Merck to buy Idenix in race for hepatitis C treatments

Last updated: June 9, 2014 6:25 pm

Merck to buy Idenix in race for hepatitis C treatments

By Andrew Ward, Pharmaceuticals CorrespondentAuthor alerts

Merck & Co has agreed to buy Idenix Pharmaceuticals for $3.85bn in a deal aimed at bolstering its position in the hotly contested race to develop a new generation of hepatitis C treatments.

The US drugmaker is vying with rivals including Gilead SciencesJohnson & Johnson and AbbVie for share of a market forecast to reach at least $20bn of annual sales by the end of this decade. Read more of this post

Spooked by probes, pharma executives ask: should I leave China?

Spooked by probes, pharma executives ask: should I leave China?

Thu, Jun 12 2014

By Adam Jourdan

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China’s crackdown on corruption in the pharmaceutical sector has frightened foreign executives so much that some fear they could be jailed and have asked their lawyers if they should leave the country for six months. Others are thinking of going for good.

While the crackdown has been building for a year, Chinese police shocked the foreign business community a month ago when they filed corruption charges against Mark Reilly, former China head of British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline Plc. The Briton, who has been barred from leaving China, could face decades in prison. Read more of this post

Medical Services at Home: Burmans Expand Their Market

Medical Services at Home: Burmans Expand Their Market

by Prince Mathews Thomas | Jun 13, 2014

The biggest plus for this service would be the convenience for patients and their families

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A year after leading his family’s entry into the health care segment, Gaurav Burman is satisfied that Health Care at Home India (HCHI) is “growing faster than expected”. The fifth generation entrepreneur of the Burman family—which owns FMCG major Dabur—has now expanded the services of his new company to Chandigarh and Jaipur, fast catching up with its peer from Bangalore, Portea Medical.  Read more of this post

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