Emergency department visits:
Source: National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey: 2011 Emergency Department Summary Tables – cdc.gov
In Jennifer Aniston’s new role there’s sure to be no dry eye left in the house. At least that’s Shire’s goal. After expressing an addiction to eye drops in a recent interview, Jennifer Aniston was contacted by the folks at Shire to be the face and eyes of their new “eyelove” campaign. Creepy name? We agree. This campaign parallels the launch of a new product, Xiidra, a treatment for dry eye syndrome, and is intended to encourage the public to pay more attention to eye health. Let’s hope there’s more spark in this relationship than the one between her and John Mayer. Apologies. We don’t feel any better about this story than you do.
Pricing – the hot topic throughout all of pharma. Hillary Clinton announced her plan to combat the “outrageous” pricing and protect the patient, especially from price increases of “old” drugs. The plan proposes a watchdog group composed of federal health officials and advised by patient advocates and pricing experts. Their objective is simple – to “draw a line between price increases that are acceptable and those that are not,” according to a Washington Post article. The drug industry has its questions, of course. How long until a drug is considered old? What makes a price increase excessive? How can this unelected panel impose fines and permit the importing of similar drugs? One thing is certain, expect this argument to heat up with November right around the corner.
Drug innovation post-pharma mergers drops faster than Ryan Lochte’s credibility post-Olympics according to a study published by the Harvard Business Review. Researchers analyzed 65 pharma deals and found that innovation declines post-merger, both within the merging companies and among competitors of the new entity. The data show that patenting and R&D spending among competitors drops by more than 20% within four years after the merger. Researchers theorize this innovation decline among competitors occurs because the merger has created one less rival competing in the same therapeutic area. Thus, less push to innovate. With increasing awareness of the impact on innovation, we’ll see if regulators are quicker to put the kibosh on future mergers.
That’s what Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders, WHO, and other experts are discussing. The West African Ebola crisis led to a push for accelerated access to treatments, arguing that using a potential therapy with promising results in animal studies is OK during a major public health crisis. Meaning, even if the FDA hasn’t approved it for use in humans, patients should still have access (in some circumstances). MSF’s article in The Journal of Medical Ethics seeks to define these “exceptional circumstances” and the goals of using unproven therapies. This could be a tipping point for research ethics. Good news, since there’s still no approved treatment for Ebola.
The F.D.A. made an urgent call for Zika screenings throughout all US blood banks, translating to an annual average of 14 million units of blood to be tested or decontaminated by new screening technologies. Given a window of 1-3 months for total implementation, banks are in for it this fall. A tall order? For sure. Necessary? Duh, consider that Zika can be spread through sexual transmission, no mosquito required. Or the unsettlingly high number of donors in Puerto Rico testing positive. Or the >16,000 cases on US soil alone. Or that we can keep going, but there’s a character limit on this post. Within months, we can hopefully rest assured that blood banks will be safer places, apart from the treachery of that one phlebotomist who can’t find your vein.