Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Why some medications are so high, Big Tabacco whines about warnings, and FDA approves new skin cancer drug

Good Morning Humboldt County!

Good to see you this morning. Pull up a chair and grab a cup of my freshly brewed virtual coffee. I have a few tidbits to kick your day off with:


Price-gougers hike costs of vital drugs during shortage

Gray-market vendors are part of the so-called “parallel market,” in which drugs are sold outside authorized channels. Drug makers typically distribute medications through large, national suppliers. Sometimes, however, a third-party supplier is able to purchase quantities of drugs and then re-sell them, often at a higher cost, to hospital pharmacists desperate to find drugs to treat patients.

Of the drugs offered by 18 gray market providers, 96 percent were double the normal price, 45 percent were 100 times the normal price and 27 percent were at least 20 times the normal price.

The drug with the highest mark-up was labetalol, a blood pressure medication that has been in shortage for more than a year. Normally priced at $25.90 per unit, the drug was offered at $1,200 a unit, a 4,533 percent increase, the report said.

Big Tobacco sues feds over graphic warnings on cigarette labels

Tobacco companies want a judge to put a stop to new graphic cigarette labels that include the sewn-up corpse of a smoker and pictures of diseased lungs, saying they unfairly urge adults to shun their legal products and will cost millions to produce.

One of nine new warning labels cigarette makers will have to use by the fall of 2012. In the most significant change to U.S. cigarette packs in 25 years, the FDA's the new warning labels depict in graphic detail the negative health effects of tobacco use.

Four of the five largest U.S. tobacco companies sued the federal government Tuesday, saying the warnings violate their free speech rights.



FDA approves gene-targeting skin cancer drug

The Food and Drug Administration has approved a first-of-its-kind drug to treat the deadliest form of skin cancer by targeting a particular genetic mutation found in about half of patients.

The pill called Zelboraf, made by Roche, is the first treatment for melanoma that targets a specific gene found in skin-cancer tumors. The FDA also approved a test to screen patients for the mutation.

Time to walk on down the road…

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