Today's News and Commentary

“About pharma

Mylan's 'aggressive' generic Advair discount isn't as big as it looks: analysts: While generic introductions are not usually big news, when a very popular branded medication goes generic it can cause significant savings. The “analysts” in the title don’t think the savings will be as much as expected because of rebates and discounts from the branded manufacturer GSK. Still, it will be about 40%-off large volumes.

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Azar: HHS examining insurer policy requiring patients to start over on step therapy: One way the government plans to save money on Part D plans is by allowing them to institute step therapy for appropriate conditions, like hypertension and asthma. One “glitch” is when a patient changes plans and the insurer requires the steps to start over. HHS secretary Azar says his department will need to look into this inevitable problem.

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A political ‘bomb’ over drug prices could threaten NAFTA 2.0: Who knew the new trade agreement could be held up over a healthcare issue? The problem is that the treaty would give branded drugs extra patent protection, thus lengthening the time prices could be kept high.

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FDA panel backs J&J’s ketamine-like depression drug: Physicians have been using the anesthetic ketamine off-label for treatment of depression for a while. Since it works by a different mechanism than existing drugs and acts much faster, it represents a whole new approach to treatment. While a panel approved the drug, asketamine, it still needs FDA approval. If it passes, it could become a blockbuster.

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Tea’s value as a cancer therapy is steeped in uncertainty: While not, strictly speaking a pharma story, people have been interested in the medicinal use of tea for centuries. This article from Nature is a good, scientific presentation of the topic.

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ICH Considers Harmonizing Generics Standards Across Borders: Standards for how closely generic drugs must adhere to their branded equivalents vary among countries. The International Council on Harmonization is now considering policies on standardization of these medications.

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About devices

U-Md. researchers develop smart fabric that automatically warms or cools you off: “Researchers from the University of Maryland say they have created a fabric that responds to its wearer, regulating the amount of heat that passes through the material.” While the article focuses on everyday use at home and in the office, imagine the healthcare uses to help patient temperature regulation, particularly in hospital and nursing home settings.

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