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Analysis and Comment (44)

Reduced access to generics drugs has contributed to the 80% rise in the cost of Australia’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. 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…
It’s not yet clear how the Coalition will weigh health issues against economic priorities. It’s not yet clear how the Coalition will weigh health issues against economic priorities. jdwfoto/Shutterstock

Coalition’s policy bodes ill for health in free trade negotiations

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…
Drug reps form a huge part of the industry’s marketing strategy. Drug reps form a huge part of the industry’s marketing strategy. Alexander Raths/Shutterstock

Why I don’t see drug reps – a GP’s take on Big Pharma spruiking

Here’s what I remember. It was 14 years ago, and I was a junior doctor working in psychiatry. Some colleagues planned a dinner as an end-of-term celebration and, despite reasonable incomes, they decided…
Developing the IPOs of tomorrow. Developing the IPOs of tomorrow. UCL maps

Med City can galvanise science and business in the UK

Med City was launched to great fanfare last week by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson. Bringing together the powerhouses of academic and clinical research at UCL, Imperial, Kings, Oxford and Cambridge…
Some drug manufacturing in India is global best practice. Other production is both shoddy and dangerous. Some drug manufacturing in India is global best practice. Other production is both shoddy and dangerous. Shutterstock

Regulator silent on safety of Indian-made generic drugs

Generic drugs are copies of brand-name drugs whose patent has expired, allowing consumers (and governments) to buy a replica drug at a fraction of the price. But a recent US investigation has found consumers…
Cancer targets young and old. Cancer targets young and old. National Cancer Institute

EU loophole means children with cancer are denied drugs

In spite of a major drive to develop targeted drugs to “personalise” cancer treatments, children with cancer still have to put up with drugs that have remained largely unchanged for decades. Currently…
No antibiotic resistant bacteria please - in your pork, beef, chicken, or throat. No antibiotic resistant bacteria please - in your pork, beef, chicken, or throat. Dr Graham Beards

Charge fees for farm antibiotics to slow the spread of superbugs

The development of resistant bacteria over the past 50 years stands testament to the power of evolution. While scientists have discovered or created hundreds of antibiotics to kill bacteria, those bacteria…
It’s not all about the money but universities could drive a harder bargain. It’s not all about the money but universities could drive a harder bargain. Victor1558

Universities are research power houses but fail to reap rewards

In the pharmaceutical industry there is a place known as the Valley of Death. It is the place between research and innovation where many drugs enter but fail to emerge from the other side. One reason for…
Amgen has found itself at the centre of the Australian body politic. Amgen has found itself at the centre of the Australian body politic. AAP/Paul Jeffers

Amgen and Abbott: who’s that on the PM’s cycling kit?

You may have noticed our Prime Minister Tony Abbott riding around in cycling kit with the Amgen logo across his chest, back and legs. Amgen is the principal sponsor of an Australian fundraising cycling…
Prescriptions for pain relief are easy to get in the UK but not if you live in certain countries. Prescriptions for pain relief are easy to get in the UK but not if you live in certain countries. PA/Julien Behal

Pain-relief access crisis leaves millions suffering around globe

Ten percent of the world consumes 90% of the morphine. At first glance that’s just another statistic about haves and have nots. But it’s more stark than that - particularly if you have cancer in a country…
The biggest and fastest-growing spending category in health is hospitals. The biggest and fastest-growing spending category in health is hospitals. Image from shutterstock.com

Tough choices: how to rein in Australia’s rising health bill

With health costs rising and costly medical innovations on the horizon, it’s crunch time for health funding. In the lead up to the May budget, The Conversation’s experts will explore the options for reining…
Novartis sought to charge A$26,000 a year for its anti-cancer drug, compared with A$2,000 per year for a generic copy. Novartis sought to charge A$26,000 a year for its anti-cancer drug, compared with A$2,000 per year for a generic copy. ChrisGoldNY

India’s Novartis patent ruling puts health before profits

Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis this week lost a seven-year legal battle over a drug patent in India. It’s certainly a win for those in India who use the drug, and for patients in India more generally…
There’s no reason the Australian taxpayer should pay such high prices for medicines when our overseas cousins don’t. There’s no reason the Australian taxpayer should pay such high prices for medicines when our overseas cousins don’t. Image from shutterstock.com

Fixing Australia’s bad drug deal could save $1.3 billion a year

The Commonwealth could save A$1.3 billion each year by reforming the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), according to a report released today by the Grattan Institute. The report, Australia’s bad drug…
Ben Goldacre spreading the news at the Free University of Glastonbury, June 2011. Ben Goldacre spreading the news at the Free University of Glastonbury, June 2011. Neil Melville-Kenney

Peer review: Bad Pharma by Ben Goldacre

The British Medical Journal (BMJ) published a poll in late-October 2012 asking, “Who is mainly at fault for denying access to negative clinical trial results?” Respondents were able to choose from a list…
Recent surveys show many Australians have not filled a prescription because of cost. Recent surveys show many Australians have not filled a prescription because of cost. Robert S. Donovan

Why automating the PBS safety net will be good for everyone

A growing number of people globally live with chronic illness. By the time they reach 65, most Australians have at least one chronic condition and 80% have three or more. Pharmaceutical treatment is often…
Australia has almost no capacity to fill international medicine shortages. Australia has almost no capacity to fill international medicine shortages. artisrams

Cutting off Australia’s drug supply: why outsourcing isn’t the solution

The earthquake in the Northern Italian town of Medolla this May devastated the local community, killing 17 people and leaving 14,000 homeless. Because Medolla is the manufacturing epicentre of the Italian…
Sleeping pills aren’t the answer to sleep on demand. Sleeping pills aren’t the answer to sleep on demand. Drake Guan

Explainer: insomnia, pills and the pursuit of sleep

Insomnia is far from a modern concept, with sleep remedies such as opioids, chamomile and valerian root recorded in the earliest existing medical writings. The word insomnia itself dates back to at least…
It’s obvious: better referee performance is better for players and better for spectators. Right? It’s obvious: better referee performance is better for players and better for spectators. Right? AAP Image/Joe Castro

Sports referees should take performance-enhancing drugs

Late last week football (soccer) website football365.com reported that FIFA, the international governing body for the world game, is considering forcing referees to pass fitness tests prior to games. This…
There’s nothing worse than running out of paracetamol – and it’s much more serious in a hospital. There’s nothing worse than running out of paracetamol – and it’s much more serious in a hospital. Zokah

Why Australia’s medicine cabinet is almost bare

The risk we’ll fall short of essential medicines has increased dramatically over the past decade, largely due to policy shifts in patent regulation and a boom in pharmaceutical innovation that began in…
The TGA-banned painkillers are no more effective than paracetamol for acute pain. The TGA-banned painkillers are no more effective than paracetamol for acute pain. Cayusa/Flickr

Why the TGA banned painkillers that aren’t good at relieving pain (clue: they’re dangerous)

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal has granted pharmaceutical company Aspen Pharmacare a legal stay against the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s (TGA) ban on some of its products. The company took the…
Companies too often replace genuine innovation with regulatory shenanigans. Companies too often replace genuine innovation with regulatory shenanigans. eMagineArt.com

Evergreening patents: playing monopoly with solar fuels and medicine innovations

IDEAS AND OWNERSHIP: The concept of protecting ideas and innovation by legal means dates back to antiquity. But many of our existing laws are under strain, their suitability and ultimate purpose called…
Pharmaceutical companies are working in partnership with academia to bring drug candidates to clinical development. Pharmaceutical companies are working in partnership with academia to bring drug candidates to clinical development. Spark/Flickr

New drug buddies: pharma turns to academia for medicines pipeline

The 2008 global financial crisis and an impending “patent cliff” have had a profound impact on the profitability of the pharmaceutical industry – they have made it change how it works. So, to maintain…
Repositioning a drug affords pharmaceutical companies the opportunity to enhance the return on their initial investment. Repositioning a drug affords pharmaceutical companies the opportunity to enhance the return on their initial investment. bitzi/flickr

Teaching old drugs new tricks: why companies reposition medicines

Many pharmaceutical companies are having to re-examine their product portfolio because of the difficult economic climate. New uses for established drugs affords a way for these companies to maximise financial…
The increasing trend of outsourcing drug production is leading to shortages in cancer drugs. The increasing trend of outsourcing drug production is leading to shortages in cancer drugs. Flickr

Risky business: the human cost of outsourcing drug production

It’s the pharmaceutical industry equivalent of the butterfly effect: a drug manufacturing plant in Ohio shuts down production after regulators on two continents uncover contamination problems. Suddenly…
It depends on the drug, how it’s been stored and whether the pack has been opened. It depends on the drug, how it’s been stored and whether the pack has been opened. saveas new

Explainer: do we need to follow medication use-by dates?

It’s late in the night. And after a long day at work, you have a splitting headache. You rattle around in the bottom drawer of the bathroom vanity to find a packet of paracetamol tablets you know are hiding…
Vitamins, minerals and herbal therapies should live up to the claims on their packaging. Vitamins, minerals and herbal therapies should live up to the claims on their packaging. Peter Sunna

Consumers need the facts about complementary medicines

Two out of three Australians use complementary medicines to boost their nutrition, alleviate various symptoms and improve their overall health and well-being. There are around 10,000 products to choose…
Pharmaceuticals giant Merck has maintained a low-profile, despite a series of major law suits. Pharmaceuticals giant Merck has maintained a low-profile, despite a series of major law suits. AAP

The most powerful companies you’ve never heard of: Merck

Welcome to “The most powerful companies you’ve never heard of” – an ongoing series from The Conversation that sheds light on big companies with low profiles. Today, Deakin University’s Philip Soos examines…
Doctors' wining and dining by drug companies distort prescribing patterns and may influence them to recommend less-than-ideal drugs. Doctors' wining and dining by drug companies distort prescribing patterns and may influence them to recommend less-than-ideal drugs. PhillipC/Flickr

It’s not you, it’s the patients: why doctors should tell drug firms it’s over

This week Radio National’s Background Briefing looks at how pharmaceutical companies market their products to doctors. The program is presented by Ray Moynihan, an award-winning journalist, columnist at…
It’s even possible to get relief from symptoms when knowingly taking a placebo. It’s even possible to get relief from symptoms when knowingly taking a placebo. Flickr/JLA Kliche

Monday’s medical myth: the placebo effect only works on the gullible

If you took a pill that had been prescribed to treat your illness and it alleviated your symptoms, that means the medicine worked – right? What if you took a complementary medicine from a health food store…
Better ways to finance pharmaceutical research and development could make medicines more accessible. Better ways to finance pharmaceutical research and development could make medicines more accessible. Images_of_Money

Blueprint for making medicines more affordable for everyone

Non-communicable diseases – Philip Soos examines the importance of essential drugs and technologies to the world’s poor, a priority action area noted by the Lancet NCD Action Group and the NCD Alliance…
The biological differences between men and women extend far beyond the obvious reproductive ones. The biological differences between men and women extend far beyond the obvious reproductive ones. rbrwr/flickr

Meeting halfway: the untapped potential of gender-specific drugs

Personalised medication is one of the ultimate goals of modern medicine although it’s still some way off. But the promise of gender-specific medicines means we may soon be halfway there. In its purest…
Oxytocin can actually decrease trust and enhance negative emotions. Oxytocin can actually decrease trust and enhance negative emotions. MichaelKuhn

The dark side of the love drug – oxytocin linked to gloating, envy and aggression

Imagine for a moment that you could gain everyone’s trust in an instant – you could sell more, love more and accomplish more than you ever imagined. Or so says the online marketing spiel for the drug oxytocin…
They may have the same active ingredient, but fillers, colours and lubricants may vary. They may have the same active ingredient, but fillers, colours and lubricants may vary. Flickr/Harsh Vardhan

Explainer: how do generic medicines compare with brand leaders?

“Would you like the generic brand of that medicine?” It’s a question you’ve probably been asked, or at least heard, when picking up a prescription at your local pharmacy. It’s likely you were told the…
Federal governments should fund pharmaceutical research and development. Federal governments should fund pharmaceutical research and development. AAP

Patent controversy: it’s time Big Pharma took its medicine

Over the last couple of decades, the pharmaceutical industry has come under attack for its perceived shortcomings amid claims that it’s greedy, profiteering nature has caused significant harm. However…
There’s growing pressure on the TGA to disclose details of its pre-market reviews of approved medications. There’s growing pressure on the TGA to disclose details of its pre-market reviews of approved medications. Tom Varco/Wikimedia commons

Business as usual… another review reports but will the TGA become more transparent?

The latest report on Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) activities – this one concerning transparency – has just been made public, two weeks after it was submitted to the government. At least this…
Almost a third of professional musicians regularly take medication to manage their performance anxiety. Almost a third of professional musicians regularly take medication to manage their performance anxiety. Flickr/kronik

All right on the night? Music performance anxiety is more common than you think

“One of the most exhilarating experiences I know of is performing in public, especially when there is a magnificent piano under my fingers, great music in my head, and the feeling that there are no technical…
The government has made a mistake by not listing pain drug Targin on the PBS. The government has made a mistake by not listing pain drug Targin on the PBS. J Hawk

Scrimping on pain drugs is bad medicine and worse economics

In an attempt to contain growing health costs, the Australian Government has resisted recommendations to subsidise the pain medication Targin on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Schedule. Not only is this a…
Researches have uncovered a vital piece of the anti-malaria puzzle. Researches have uncovered a vital piece of the anti-malaria puzzle. Larah McElroy

An end to malaria? Mission definitely not impossible

More than 200 million people are infected annually with the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum, and around 800,000 people die every year of the mosquito-borne disease, most of them children. As reported…
Decisions about listing medicines on the PBS can’t be ad hoc. Decisions about listing medicines on the PBS can’t be ad hoc.

Deciding what medicines to fund shouldn’t be a private affair

The fanfare around Health Minister Nicola Roxon’s announcement yesterday that the government would fund 13 new medicines on the PBS is a reminder of the power and influence involved in the selection and…

Research and News (1)

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