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Oct 5, 2015

Pacific trade deal adds to U.S. price quandary for biotech drugs

NEW YORK/ATLANTA (Reuters) – The Pacific trade deal agreed on Monday, which grants biotechnology drug producers less protection than offered by the United States, could put more downward pressures on the costly drugs’ pricing in the industry’s most lucrative market.

The United States and 11 trading partners, including Mexico, Japan, Canada and Australia, wrapped up five years of talks after securing a compromise on protection for biotech drugs that would help determine when less expensive versions known as biosimilars can enter the market.

Oct 1, 2015

FDA approves costly Bristol-Myers drug combo for melanoma

Oct 1 (Reuters) – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on
Thursday approved the first combination of two drugs that help
the immune system fight cancer, a therapy regimen that could
cost $256,000 a year.

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co said the FDA had given the
green light to combine its immuno-oncology drugs Opdivo and
Yervoy to treat advanced or inoperable melanoma, the deadliest
form of skin cancer, in patients who do not have a mutation of a
gene called BRAF.

Sep 29, 2015

Drug industry must address image problem over prices: Teva executive

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd’s (TEVA.TA: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) research chief said on Tuesday the drug industry must act responsibly when it comes to pricing medications, given the mounting anger over the high cost of therapies in the United States.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton brought new attention to the issue last week, proposing to cap patients’ treatment costs, just one of several ways she would prevent “profiteering” by drugmakers if elected.

Sep 28, 2015

Democrats take aim at drug prices, prompting sharp drops in biotech stocks

By Ransdell Pierson and Bill Berkrot

(Reuters) – Democratic lawmakers on Monday attacked “massive” price increases of two heart drugs from Canada’s Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc, fueling a rout in drugmaker shares on worries of a government and insurer clampdown on U.S. drug prices.

All 18 Democratic members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform urged their chairman to subpoena Valeant and force it to provide documents relating to price increases of 212 percent for Isuprel and 525 percent for Nitropress. Valeant boosted the prices immediately after buying the heart drugs in February.

Sep 28, 2015

U.S. House Democrats slam Valeant’s drug price hikes; shares sink

Sept 28 (Reuters) – Democratic lawmakers on Monday attacked
“massive” price increases of two heart drugs from Canada’s
Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc, fueling a rout in
drugmaker shares on worries of a government and insurer
clampdown on U.S. drug prices.

All 18 Democratic members of the House Committee on
Oversight and Government Reform urged their chairman to subpoena
Valeant and force it to provide documents relating to price
increases of 212 percent for Isuprel and 525 percent for
Nitropress. Valeant boosted the prices immediately after buying
the heart drugs in February.

Sep 24, 2015

Top U.S. doctors say pricey cholesterol drugs best for limited group

BOSTON (Reuters) – Top U.S. heart doctors said on Thursday that newly developed cholesterol treatments that cost more than $14,000 per year are best used for the small group of patients for which they have been approved, at least for now.

The drugs are vastly more expensive than the statins that are currently used by tens of millions of people to help control high cholesterol and have drawn scrutiny from health insurers who are concerned they will be widely prescribed.

Sep 22, 2015

Clinton plan on U.S. drug costs adds to pressure for lower prices

NEW YORK, Sept 22 (Reuters) – Hillary Clinton’s campaign
promise on Tuesday to cap prescription drug costs for U.S.
consumers lends weight to efforts by health insurers, doctors’
groups and consumers to address skyrocketing prices, industry
experts said.

Clinton, in the lead among Democratic presidential
candidates, unveiled a plan that includes a $250 monthly cap on
out-of-pocket costs prescription drugs, allowing the Medicare
plan for the elderly to negotiate drug pricing and permitting
Americans to purchase drugs from other countries at lower cost.

Sep 11, 2015

Aggressive blood-pressure reduction cuts death, heart problems -study

Sept 11 (Reuters) – Lowering blood pressure below a commonly
used target significantly reduced serious heart problems and cut
the risk of death in adults aged 50 and older, according to
preliminary results of a large U.S. government-sponsored study
released on Friday.

In the study of more than 9,300 patients with hypertension,
using a combination of medicines to reduce systolic pressure to
a target of 120 versus 140 cut the rate of heart attacks,
strokes and heart failure by almost a third and the risk of
death by nearly a quarter.

Sep 11, 2015

Aggressive blood-pressure lowering cuts death, heart problems: study

By Bill Berkrot

(Reuters) – Lowering blood pressure below a commonly used target significantly reduced serious heart problems and cut the risk of death in adults aged 50 and older, preliminary results of a large government-sponsored study showed on Friday.

In the study of more than 9,300 patients with hypertension, using a combination of medicines to reduce systolic pressure to a target of 120 cut the rate of heart attacks, strokes and heart failure by almost a third, and the risk of death by nearly a quarter, compared to target of 140.

Sep 9, 2015

New York health insurer hacked, over 10 million members possibly affected

By Bill Berkrot

(Reuters) – Upstate New York health insurer Excellus BlueCross BlueShield on Wednesday said its computer systems and those at affiliates had been breached, exposing data from more than 10 million members, in the latest case to show the industry is still struggling to ward off hackers.

The Rochester-based insurer said it and its affiliates had been the target of a sophisticated cyber attack and that it was taking steps to address the situation and offering free identity theft protection services to those affected.

    • About Bill

      "Based in New York, I primarily cover the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors as well as other publicly traded companies involved in health care. Previously covered a wide range of sports for Reuters."
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