Pharmaceuticals

10:24am

Wed April 10, 2013
Shots - Health News

Patent Medicines Get A Belated Chemical Checkup

Originally published on Thu April 11, 2013 7:04 am

Dr. Sawen's Magic Nervine Pills contained calcium, iron, copper and potassium. Despite advertising claiming they were free of lead and mercury, both elements were found in the pills.
Courtesy of Mark Benvenuto

The patent medicines sold in days gone by may, contrary to the name, not have had real government patents. But that didn't stop their makers from claiming the concoctions could cure ailments ranging from indigestion to jaundice and fever.

Now, researchers have put some of these old elixirs and pills in the Henry Ford Museum's large collection of patent medicines to a modern test. They found a mix of potentially harmful metals like lead and mercury along with benign ingredients, including calcium and iron.

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3:03pm

Wed April 3, 2013
Shots - Health News

Side Effects Prompt Patients To Stop Cholesterol Drugs

Originally published on Fri April 5, 2013 12:57 pm

Lipitor and other statin drugs are among the most commonly prescribed drugs in the United States.
Mel Evans AP

With one-quarter of adults over age 45 taking cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, it figures that more than a few people would have trouble sticking with the program.

More than a few, actually.

A big new study of statin use in the real world found that 17 percent of patients taking the pills reported side effects, including muscle pain, nausea, and problems with their liver or nervous system.

That's a lot higher than the 5 to 10 percent reported in the randomized controlled trials that provided evidence for regulatory approval of the medicines.

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9:47am

Mon April 1, 2013
The Two-Way

Patent Ruling In India Could Boost Exports Of Cheap Medicine To Third World

Originally published on Mon April 1, 2013 3:17 pm

A Novartis office in Mumbai, India.
Divyakant Solanki EPA /LANDOV

A decision by India's Supreme Court to reject Novartis AG's bid to patent a version of one cancer drug could lead to more exports of cheap medicine from that country to "poor people across the developing world," the BBC writes.

NPR's Julie McCarthy tells our Newscast Desk that the ruling, announced Monday, ends a six-year legal battle that has been closely watched by pharmaceutical firms, humanitarian aid organizations and generic drug manufacturers.

She adds that:

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2:32pm

Fri March 29, 2013
The Two-Way

UPS Agrees To Forfeit $40 Million In Payments From Illegal Online Pharmacies

A UPS truck drives along Grant Street on in San Francisco, California.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

United Parcel Post has agreed to forfeit $40 million it made in payments from pharmacies that shipped controlled substances to Americans without valid prescriptions.

Reuters reports:

"The company also agreed to put a compliance program into place to prevent illegal online pharmacies from distributing drugs through its shipping services in the future, authorities said.

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1:41am

Thu March 28, 2013
Planet Money

When A Famous Hospital Didn't Want An Expensive New Drug

Originally published on Thu March 28, 2013 8:03 am

Andrei Tchernov iStockphoto.com

Last year, a new drug called Zaltrap was approved as a kind of last-chance therapy for patients with colorectal cancer. Studies suggested Zaltrap worked almost exactly as well as an existing drug called Avastin. In fact, the main difference between the two drugs seemed to be the price.

"I was rather stunned," Dr. Leonard Saltz, who specializes in colorectal cancer, told me.

Zaltrap costs about $11,000 per month — about twice as much as Avastin, Saltz said.

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