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Analysis and Comment (46)

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…
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…
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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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…
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. 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. 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. 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…
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? 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. 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…
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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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…
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. 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…
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. 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…
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. 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…

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