If you don’t get that reference, you’re doing TV / life wrong. A report from The Globe and Mail states that Canada’s federal government is considering action against U.S.-based Purdue Pharma over “potentially illegal activities in the marketing of OxyContin in Canada.” InsightCity covered instances of U.S. states going after Purdue (see Ohio and Washington), but a neighboring country’s federal government getting involved means the trouble is far from over. In 2007, Purdue paid out $634.5 million in the U.S. to settle similar charges, and the Canadian government wants a similar outcome for their opioid crisis dating back 21 years. As in Westeros, there’s a situation brewing with the neighbors in The North. New episode of Thrones this Sunday at 9pm…HBO, give me free stuff.
Amazon Echo users can use voice commands to do all sorts of things. “Alexa, order granola bars.” “Alexa, turn on the lights.” “Alexa, clean the house.” (Just kidding…hey, one can dream, right?) Now Merck & Co. is sponsoring the Alexa Diabetes Challenge in which contestants submitted concepts for using Alexa’s technology for diabetes management. The ideas from the five finalists span from a smart foot scanner, to a coach that responds to patients’ moods, to a nutrition assistant that utilizes machine learning to provide meal recommendations. The winner gets $125k and a whole lot of bragging rights.
This makes InsightCity want jump on the contest bandwagon. Email us (firstname.lastname@example.org) a funny testimonial about why you love (or hate?) our newsletter—130 words or less, just like our writers have to do. The knee-slappingest, ROFLMAO-iest testimonial will win a $50 prepaid gift card. And we’ll send your write-up out in one of our newsletters—without your name, of course. You’ll be kinda famous, but in an anonymous sort of way. May the odds be ever in your favor. We’ll let this contest run for two weeks. Go!
Many people feel constantly under attack from gastrointestinal issues like IBS, IBD and gastritis. However, not all GI symptoms are what you might think. Drug manufacturer, Novartis, has recently launched a campaign entitled, What Am I Wrestling With, encouraging people to get to know and ask more questions about their symptoms. The campaign features a pesky professional wrestler who they hope will bring awareness to knowing your symptoms and talking to your doctor about carcinoid tumors. Carcinoid tumor symptoms can mimic the symptoms of IBS and proper diagnosis is critical for treatment. Hopefully, the campaign is a success and no one will have to endure a German Suplex from a carcinoid tumor.
Transparency and drug discovery don’t usually go together, what with patents, IP and paywalls hiding useful knowledge from researchers working on similar problems. But the Structural Genomics Consortium has a different approach. That’s right, crowdsourcing has made its way to drug discovery. The SGC partners with six research universities, nine of the largest pharma innovators, and government agencies to provide open source data about protein structures that can be used to develop hard-to-design drugs. They’re currently using the approach to, ahem, stick it to Huntington’s (see, it’s funny because they’re literally trying to bind molecules to the protein that causes the disease.) For a small contribution of $8 million—cheap by R&D standards—any organization can nominate proteins to the SGC’s master to-do list.
Gilead isn’t the only Hep C game in town but, to date, has held strong to its first-mover advantage. According to a recent article in Investor’s Business Daily, that may soon change. And not because of a lower price. AbbVie’s competitive offering will still list for around $28,000 per month. Its competitive advantage lies in its 4-week shorter treatment regimen. Also, AbbVie’s glecaprevir and pibrentasvir drug combo is likely to be approved with few conditions. Where Gilead’s treatment combo is a 12-week regimen for patients who have not previously responded to a single drug treatment, AbbVie’s combo is taken for only 8 weeks and will probably be approved as a first-line treatment. “Aw, crap,” thought someone at Gilead, probably.
An FDA advisory board voted unanimously for the approval of a CAR-T cancer therapy for acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or ALL. This could be the first gene therapy—where one’s own genes are altered to create “killer T-cells” to attack cancerous cells—approved in the US. CAR-T cell therapy is a one-time treatment and shows promise in its ability to knock out ALL where other cancer drugs have failed. Novartis, the drug developer, reported 83% of the patients achieved complete remission within three months and a high probability of being relapse-free at 12 months. The new treatment isn’t without safety concerns, but traditional treatments are more toxic than CAR-T, must be taken long term and eventually stop working. Take THAT, childhood cancer!
When a medical device malfunctions, it is up to the doctor to alert the hospital, the hospital to alert the device maker, and the device maker to alert the FDA 30 days later. Not exactly a fast process. Well the US House of Representatives just approved a renegotiated agreement between the FDA and device industry that would push this 30 days back to three months. While device makers are happy because this agreement also includes lowering the proposed annual user fees, it has some watchdog groups and critics up in arms and bringing up all the bad memories the device industry wishes they could forget. Who knows, maybe malfunctioning trends will become more apparent with this extension, but it certainly doesn’t scream “patient safety.”