Good morning, everyone, and welcome to another working week. We hope the weekend respite was invigorating and refreshing because that daily routine of meetings, deadlines and whatnot has now returned. But you knew this coming, yes? To cope, as always, we are quaffing cups of stimulation and invite you to join us. Nothing like fortifying yourself for the crushing to-do list. Meanwhile, here are some tidbits. Have a great day and do keep in touch …
The data behind a decision last fall by Eli Lilly to halt development of a potential blockbuster cholesterol drug was released this weekend at the American College of Cardiology meeting, raising doubts about this approach to combating cardiovascular disease, the New York Times writes. Known as evacetrapib, the trial was ended because it didn’t prevent heart attacks, even though it lowered bad, or LDL, cholesterol and raised good, or HDL, cholesterol.
Big drug makers made substantial price hikes in the US, sometimes more than doubling listed prices, for widely used medicines over the past five years, according to a Reuters analysis. The prices for four of the top 10 drugs rose more than 100 percent since 2011 and six others increased more than 50 percent. Sales for the top 10 drugs rose 44 percent to $54 million in 2014, from 2011, although prescriptions for these medicines fell 22 percent.
For the first time, drug shortages will be discussed as a specific topic at the World Health Assembly meeting to be held next month, Reuters reports. Shortages of essential medicines, mostly generic drugs whose patents have expired, are escalating and the World Health Organization has suggested minimum prices may be needed to ensure some treatments remain available.
The Indian National Human Rights Commission, which is an autonomous organization, wants the government to respond to reports it gave verbal assurances to reject compulsory licenses to produce generic versions of drugs patented by global companies, the Economic Times tells us. The government has called the reports inaccurate, but the NHRC notes that two applications were turned down last year.
Valeant Pharmaceuticals will be in court in Canada Monday, fighting a lawsuit that alleges the company ignored its own research and misled consumers about the short-term effectiveness of the Cold-fX cold and flu remedy, the Canadian Press reports. The consumers are seeking class-action status for their lawsuit. One lawyer claimed Valeant exposed consumers to a health threat by distributing an allegedly useless drug with a risk of adverse side effects.
The European Medicines Agency recommended the world’s first life-saving gene therapy for children, developed by Italian scientists and GlaxoSmithKline, Reuters writes. Called Strimvelis, the therapy would be used for a very small number of children with ADA Severe Combined Immune Deficiency, which makes it impossible for them to make a type of white blood cell. About 15 children a year are born in Europe with this very rare genetic disorder.
Students from Harvard University and Tufts University, along with activist groups, staged a die-in last Friday in front of the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development, claiming a recent study from the think tank is biased, the Harvard Crimson reports. They want Joseph DiMasi, an associate professor at Tufts, to disclose the names of the drug makers that fund his research. His report estimated the cost to develop a drug is about $2.6 billion.
Samsung Bioepis filed a lawsuit late last month in the UK seeking to stop AbbVie from blocking the launch of a biosimilar version of Humira in the UK, the Korea Herald reports.
Roche is willing to discuss ways to set prices for cancer medicines in the UK in hopes of avoiding a repeat of a dispute last year over the cost of two drugs, Bloomberg News writes.
AB Science claimed its drug for treating amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, was successful but did not provide any details about actual treatment effect, TheStreet informs us.
Researchers say new ways are needed to control cholesterol, such as directly injecting good, or HDL, cholesterol into patients, after promising treatments from several big drug makers have failed, Reuters says.
India rejected a patent application from Novartis for a triple-combination high-blood pressure medication because the treatment was not sufficiently novel, the Financial Express says.