In a turn of events that surprises approximately nobody, “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli has been sent to jail after his $5 million bail was revoked. Not content to just shut up for a bit while awaiting sentencing for his fraud conviction, Shkreli instead used Facebook to offer $5,000 for a strand of hair from Hilary Clinton. A federal judge found he presented a threat to the community due to this action, and everyone presumably nodded along vigorously, desperate for an excuse to finally throw him behind bars for good. To be hair fair, this isn’t the first time he’s advocated for assault on Facebook. Just last year he raffled off the chance to punch him in his smug face.
In the US, you have roughly a 1-in-10 chance of having the Toxoplasma gondii parasite (that equates to about 10,000 Insight City readers). BTW, in France the prevalence is 84%. Granted this study was published in 2000 and references 1974 data, but wow. The CDC considers Toxoplasmosis a “Neglected Parasitic Infection,” a group of five parasitic diseases that have been targeted for public health action. Why should you care? First, it’s a parasite, that’s bad enough. Second, a recent study published in Scientific Reports says that Toxoplasma gondii or T. gondii (as the cool kids would say) has “identified associations between the parasite-brain interactions and epilepsy, movement disorders, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer.” The good news is researchers have more to consider for potential cures/delays in neurological disorders. Go science!
If Albert Einstein was right and “creativity is intelligence having fun” then there is one happy lawyer at Allergan. Last week Allergan, using a move John Grisham would be proud of, transferred its patents on a best-selling eye drug (Restasis) to the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe in New York. The tribe will then lease the patents back to Allergan. Yep, you read that right. Not bad, first gambling, now patent laundering (you heard that phrase here first). Allergan will pay the tribe $13.75M upfront plus $15M annually as long as the patents remain valid. FYI, Restasis sales were $1.4 billion last year. Obviously, the Mohawk Tribe has no reservations about the transaction. If we are being honest, it’ll be kind of funny when Indian generics companies start suing Indian tribes.
Have you ever looked at the online sex offender registry for your neighborhood? Not reassuring, right? Well, it looks like the state of California may soon have a similar system for drug makers. On Governor Jerry Brown’s desk is a law that would require drug manufacturers to give the state notice of price increases so that these can be posted on the internet. Even the slightest of cynics would wonder if this is being done simply to increase public (and media) pressure on a drug company that might otherwise be tempted to act like a total Shkreli. While this seems like a slam dunk for a left-leaning state like California, recall the ballot initiative that failed last November that would have capped the cost of certain drugs at the price paid by the US Department of Veterans Affairs. Strange days.
Possibly some bad news for members of the Vape Nation; a recent study has identified that e-cigarettes containing nicotine can temporarily cause increased arterial stiffness, as well as an increase in blood pressure and heart rate. NB: “containing nicotine” is pretty important there, as that’s likely what’s causing those adverse effects. So competitive vapers may not have to worry about this particular research. While the study was pretty small—15 young adults—it still provides some insight into using vapes as a way to quit smoking. The insight is groundbreaking: the healthiest way to not be affected by smoking chemicals is to ingest them at all. Wait, haven’t we heard this argument before…
We’ve done a full 360 on Zika. In early 2016, the WHO declared Zika to be a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern.” Less than two years later we’re just injecting it into brains willy-nilly to see what it does. To be fair, it does seem to kill glioblastomas pretty effectively, so we’ll give mad scientists a pass this time. Still, the Zika crisis did seem to peter out quickly in the Americas, at least quicker than US government investors expected. Without any real epidemic threat from the virus forthcoming, funding for the government and Sanofi’s vaccine development partnership has dried up. There are still two vaccine candidates from GSK and Takeda in development, but the decision has been criticized as short-sighted.
According to NHS Providers, a group that represents 97% of hospital, mental health, community and ambulance service trusts in England, the NHS needs an immediate cash injection of between £200 and £350 million to manage the risk associated with a projected “bad” winter in England. For some encouraging reading, see their Winter Warning publication. So, winter coming, there’s a physician and nurse shortage, A&E (think emergency room for our American readers) wait times are up, and previous programs have not produced enough efficiencies. Any good news? Yes. Apparently planning and support is “considerably more developed” than last year. Great, there’s a plan. Here’s hoping the winter is not too bad. Keep calm and show me the money.