Pharmaceuticals

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Off-label use is when an approved medicine is prescribed for a different reason, at a different dose, or in different patient groups than originally intended. Benny Lin/Flickr

Explainer: why are off-label medicines prescribed?

The off-label use of medicines is not illegal and it doesn't mean regulators have specifically "disapproved" its use. But there are a number of issues to consider before using a medicine off-label.
Generic medicine is essential to regions like the Southern African Development Community where HIV is endemic and cheap drugs are needed. shutterstock

Explainer: the problem drug patents pose for developing countries

The generic drug industry has become essential to developing countries that need access to cheaper drugs to treat their heavy burdens of communicable diseases.
Insulin, which is used for controlling diabetes and has been in the market for 30 years, was the first biologic. Yusmar Yahaya/Flickr

Explainer: what are biologics and biosimilars?

Biologics are widely accepted as the most effective way of treating certain diseases. They have become the fastest-growing class of therapeutic compounds, with about 300 now available for human use.
Horse-rider Potso Seoete makes an HIV-drug delivery to the Molika-liko health clinic in a remote district of Lesotho. EPA/Jon Hrusa

Why a regional approach could help end drug stockouts in southern Africa

Medicine shortages in southern Africa, particularly of anti-retrovirals for HIV patients, require urgent attention. A regional approach to distribution has been tried in South America and could work for the region.
Food can prevent certain medicines being absorbed into the bloodstream. Bertalan Szürös/Flickr

Explainer: why must some medications be taken with food?

Have you ever been advised to take a medicine with food? How about taking a medicine with cola or avoiding grapefruit? Hundreds of medicines have food-related dosing instructions. With four out of five…
Pills ok during pregnancy? We can’t know if we don’t study them. Medications image via www.shutterstock.com

Pregnant women must be studied too

Imagine being pregnant while having a chronic health condition such as diabetes, hypertension, depression or asthma, or being diagnosed with an illness while pregnant. Amazingly, your doctor may not know…
What if an experimental treatment seems to hold a terminal patient’s only hope? Pill bottle image via www.shutterstock.com

‘Right to try’ laws are compassionate, but misguided

On November 4, the state of Arizona will decide whether to join Colorado, Missouri, Louisiana and Michigan in passing so-called right to try laws. If passed, the “Arizona Terminal Patients’ Right To Try…
Central to the processes of the PBS is the idea that drugs with identical or similar clinical outcomes should have similar prices. Thinglass/Shutterstock

How the US trade deal undermined Australia’s PBS

Ten years on from the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement, Australia is entering another round of negotiations towards the new and controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership. In this Free Trade Scorecard series…
Reduced access to generics drugs has contributed to the 80% rise in the cost of Australia’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. Diego Cervo/Shutterstock

It’s time to fix the free trade bungle on the cost of medicines

Ten years on from the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement, Australia is entering another round of negotiations towards the new and controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership. In this Free Trade Scorecard series…

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