Human testing of Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine to begin in September

American drug maker Johnson & Johnson said Monday it plans to begin the human testing phase of its experimental coronavirus vaccine by September 2020, with plans to make it available for emergency use in early 2021. Read the rest

After Trump touts chloroquine + hydroxychloroquine as COVID-19 cure, India pharma co to get reprieve from U.S. ban over quality concerns

• Three manufacturing plants of Ipca Laboratories get exemption • Agency had cited ‘systematic data manipulation’ at one plant Read the rest

Why the price of insulin has skyrocketed in recent years

In the 1920s, Frederick Banting, one of the scientists who co-discovered insulin (and won a Nobel Prize for it) said, “Insulin does not belong to me, it belongs to the world.” He and the other scientists sold the patent for making insulin to the University of Toronto for $3.

And yet today, this drug, which is needed to keep millions of people with diabetes alive, costs 700% more than it did two decades ago and many people can no longer afford it. What happened? It comes down to two reasons: a "lack of pricing regulations and lack of competition," says James Dinneen in his article, "There’s No Excuse for the Insulin Crisis."

There's no law stopping the three major insulin manufacturers (Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk, and Sanofi) from charging whatever they want for the drugs they make. And since diabetics will die without it, insulin makers gouge them for all their worth. So why isn't there a low-cost generic version? The manufacturers came up with a clever way to stop that from happening.

From the article:

That lack of competition isn’t an accident. Though the original patents for most of the insulin formulations on the market expired years ago, the big three insulin manufacturers have extended their monopolies by patenting incremental changes to their products and manufacturing processes. Those patents can then be used to tie-up potential generic competitors in long, costly legal battles. In addition, they have been shielded from competition from generics by stringent federal regulations around “biologics” like insulin, which is a complex molecule produced by living cells.

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US insurers, sick of being gouged by Big Pharma, will develop cheap generics

The US health insurance industry resents being on the receiving end of surprise bills and price-gouging, so Blue Cross/Blue Shield are spending $55m to have the nonprofit Civica Rx tool up to make generics of off-patent drugs whose sole manufacturers are shkreliing the prices into the stratosphere. Read the rest

6 years after expose revealed docs taking millions from pharma companies, it's only getting worse

In 2013, Propublica published an incredible story revealing how pharma giants laundered bribes to doctors in exchange for commitments to prescribe their expensive, proprietary and often dangerous products. Read the rest

The first-ever mandatory California drug price report reveals Big Pharma's farcical price-gouging

In 2017, California passed a state law mandating disclosure of wholesale drug prices, something the Big Pharma companies fought tooth and nail. Now, the first of those disclosures has taken place, and it reveals spectacular levels of price-gouging from the pharmaceutical industry's greediest monopolists: an overall rise of 25.8% in the median drug price since 2017. Read the rest

Pharmaceutical mix-up results in 17 very hairy Spanish children

I am hopeful that time will cure the 17 children mistakenly dosed with hair loss treatment.

El País:

An internal error at the pharmaceutical company Farma-Química Sur is the cause of a hypertrichosis outbreak that has so far affected 17 babies in Spain, sources from the Spanish Agency of Medicines and Medical Devices (AEMPS) has told EL PAÍS. The company accidentally sold a strong vasodilator, which is most commonly used to treat alopecia, or hair loss, as omeprazole, a drug used to treat heartburn and acid reflux.

Hypertrichosis is also known as “werewolf syndrome” because it is characterized by an abnormal amount of hair growth over the body. The AEMPS, which works under the Health Ministry, was notified of a new case on Tuesday, which was diagnosed in the province of Granada in the southern Spanish region of Andalusia. In total, 10 babies have been affected in Cantabria, four in Andalusia and three in Valencia.

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Pharma company will pay $15.4m in fines for bribing docs to prescribe an overpriced med that brings in $1b/year

In the 2000s, the pharma company Questcor started raising the price of Acthar, an off-patent, 1950s-era drug prescribed for seizures in babies; they raised the price more than 10,000%, from $40 in 2000 to $38,892 today. To get doctors to prescribe their price-gouging meds, Questcor secretly offered bribes, a fact that came to light thanks to whistleblowers. Read the rest

Mylan CEO raises price of EpiPens over 400% in 9 years, is rewarded with 671% raise

The head of the pharmaceutical company that makes EpiPens raised the price of the life-saving device by over 400%. She was rewarded with a 671% raise. Read the rest

This man's medication cost jumped from $400 a month to $40,000 a month

Neven Mrgan takes a prescription drug called Cuprimine. Without it, he would slowly die from liver disease. Unfortunately, the price of Cuprimine has gone from $400-$1,700/month to $44,000/month. Curprimine is made by Valeant Pharmaceuticals, run by billionaire J. Michael Pearson. He's stepping down, not because he jacked up the price of Cuprimine and other medications, but because the company's misstated earnings hurt its stock value. Read the rest

TOM THE DANCING BUG: "Governor Rick, Science Hick," starring Rick Perry!!!

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