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

Doctors who take pharma industry freebies prescribe more of their benefactors' drugs

Doctors who accept pharma industry gifts (which can range from free coffees to lavish dinners to six-figure speaking fees) claim that they're not influenced by these bribes/gifts, which is possibly why doctors are taking more pharma bribes than ever. Read the rest

Insulin prices doubled between 2012 and 2016

The historical excuse for pharma monopolists who conspired to rig prices on insulin was that hardly anyone paid full price -- everyone got their life-saving, non-optional medicine through health plans that negotiated a knock-down price. Read the rest

US pharma and biotech lobbyists' documents reveal their plan to gouge Britons in any post-Brexit trade-deal

Both Phrma (the lobby for the global pharmaceutical industry) and Biotechnology Innovation Organization (biotech lobbyists) provided letters to a US-UK government meeting to discuss post-Brexit trade terms, in which both organisations called for substantially higher British prices for essential medicines after Brexit. Read the rest

A former pharma rep explains how the industry pushes doctors to overprescribe

The pharma industry spends $2 on marketing for every $1 it spends on R&D: Shahram Ahari was a rep for Eli Lilly, so he knows how the money was spent: in a tell-all op-ed in the Washington Post, Ahari describes how he lavished spending over doctors, everything from dinners at "so many fancy Manhattan restaurants that the maitre d’s greeted me by name" to free ballgames and Broadway musical tickets to offering hundreds of thousands of dollars in speaking fees to top prescribers. 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

Big Pharma's origin: how the Chicago School and private equity shifted medicine's focus from health to wealth

Between 2010 and 2016, the FDA approved 210 new medicines and every single one was produced at public expense, part of a $1T US government investment project in medical research. Despite this massive public subsidy, the pharma industry has only grown more concentrated and rapacious, raising prices and diverting the profits to their execs and investors, who now pocket 99% of industry profits: the industry made $500B in profits between 2006 and 2015, and during that time, the US government pumped $33b/year into pharma research. Read the rest

Insulin: why the price of a 100-year-old drug has tripled in a decade

Insulin prices have skyrocketed to the point where many people with diabetes live in insulin poverty, with one in four rationing their insulin and an even larger proportion trading off other life necessities (food, rent, clothing) to afford their insulin supply. Read the rest

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

Open Insulin: biohackers trying to create a "microbrewery" for insulin as an answer to price-gouging

The Open Insulin project ("a team of Bay Area biohackers working on newer, simpler, less expensive ways to make insulin") is trying to create an open source hardware system for making insulin in small batches, through a process that uses engineered yeast to "produce a modified proinsulin protein, and an enzyme to convert the modified proinsulin into insulin glargine" so that insulin co-ops can produce and test their own insulin for a cost "from ten thousand to a few tens of thousands of dollars." Read the rest

AOC grills pharma exec about why the HIV-prevention drug Prep costs $8 in Australia costs $1,780 in the USA

Gilead makes a drug called Truvada -- AKA Prep -- that was developed at US taxpayer expense, whose patents are held by the US government; Truvada is on track to eliminating the spread of HIV forever (people who are HIV positive but take Truvada are seemingly not infectious), but taking Truvada in the USA (where the patents haven't expired) is incredibly expensive, running $1,780/month, whereas in Australia, it's available as a generic for $8/month. Read the rest

Americans with diabetes are forming caravans to buy Canadian insulin at 90% off

The price-gouger-driven skyrocketing prices for insulin have endangered the lives of Americans with diabetes, who are rationing their supplies and trying not to die. Read the rest

Fentanyl execs found guilty of racketeering, face 20 year prison sentences

Five senior execs at Insys Therapeutics (manufacturer of Subsys, a type of fentanyl), have been convicted of criminal racketeering and fraud charges stemming from the company's practice of bribing doctors to overprescribe their incredibly addictive and dangerous product, and for defrauding Medicare in the process. Read the rest

After boasting about running his company from prison, Martin Shkreli gets solitary confinement

Martin Shkreli's poor impulse control continues to land him in terrible trouble: his price-gouging on lifesaving drugs didn't land him in prison, but his profligate boasting about it did (to say nothing of the revocation of his bail after he put a bounty on Hillary Clinton's hair follicles). Read the rest

UPDATE: New York State goes after the Sackler family's opioid fortune, claims they funneled their Oxy millions through offshore laundries

Update: We have received a legal letter from Thomas A. Clare, of Clare Locke LLP, writing on behalf of the Sacklers expressing the family's concern that the image of a guillotine and the "guillotine watch" tag originally accompanying this post would be interpreted as a call to violence against the Sackler family, who have, per Mr Clare, received such threats. For avoidance of doubt, the use of the guillotine image and "guillotine watch" tag is intended as hyperbole and should not be interpreted as a call for violence against anyone, including any member of the Sackler family. I apologize unreservedly for any distress Sacklers experienced due to my hyperbole, or any concern this raised on their part that violence would be forthcoming. I also apologize for my imprecise use of the word "criminal" to refer to the Sacklers' activities; I have amended the relevant passage to read "alleged criminal," as there have been no criminal convictions stemming from Purdue or its owners' activities in relation to the opioid epidemic or the marketing of Oxycontin. -Cory

The Sacklers (previously) are mostly known around the world as "philanthropists," with their names adorning the wings of galleries, museums and institutes of higher learning; but the Sackler family fortune came from their pharmaceutical company, Purdue, whose deceptive marketing and underhanded regulatory evasion for their highly addictive drug Oxycontin has contributed to the prescription opioid overdose deaths of 200,000 Americans so far, with another 200,000 overdoses from heroin and other opioids likely related to the addiction epidemic created by Purdue and the Sacklers. Read the rest

Ketamine works great for depression and other conditions, and costs $10/dose; the new FDA-approved "ketamine" performs badly in trials and costs a fortune

Ketamine is a sedative first synthesized in 1962; its patents have long elapsed and it costs pennies; it has many uses and is also sold illegally for use as a recreational drug, but in recent years it has been used with remarkable efficacy as a treatment for a variety of disorders, including depression, anxiety, and chronic pain (I have lifelong chronic pain and my specialist has prescribed very low doses of it for me at bedtime). Read the rest

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