Pharmaceuticals

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

If you're looking for a deal on prescription drugs or tired of standing in line at the drugstore counter, maybe you'd be inclined to try an online pharmacy.

Perhaps you'd feel better about that choice if the site carried the name of a well-known chain, say, www.walgreen-store.com or www.c-v-s-pharmacy.com.

It's deja vu all over again in Maine.

For the first time in years, a state has acted to allow its citizens to purchase prescription drugs by mail from other countries. The idea is to take advantage of those nations' lower prices, which can be half the cost of those at American pharmacies.

When the blood pressure drug Bystolic hit the market in 2008, it faced a crowded field of cheap generics.

So its maker, Forest Laboratories, launched a promotional assault on the group in the best position to determine Bystolic's success: those in control of prescription pads. It flooded the offices of health professionals with drug reps, and it hired doctors to persuade their peers to choose Bystolic — even though the drug hadn't proved more effective than competitors.

When the maker of a brand-name drug pays a maker of generic drugs to not produce a lower-priced version of their product, the Federal Trade Commission can challenge the arrangement on antitrust grounds, the Supreme Court ruled Monday. The ruling may end the era of what regulators call "pay-for-delay" deals.

The justices voted 5-3 to allow a case to go forward in which the FTC is challenging one of many such deals. Several companies are involved in the case, including Solvay Pharmaceuticals, maker of AndroGel, and generic-drug maker Actavis.

When it comes to profound depression, many people just can't get relief from current treatments.

Now there's more evidence that the anesthetic ketamine, sometimes abused as a club drug, has potential as a fast-acting treatment for the condition.

Doctors at the Mayo Clinic gave 10 patients ketamine twice a week as an infusion that lasted 100 minutes. All the people had depression that had resisted other treatments. The patients got ketamine until their symptoms abated or they'd had four infusions of the drug.

Some men have testosterone so low that it's a medical problem.

But how low is too low? And how many men really need a pharmaceutical version of the hormone to replace the testosterone that they might be missing?

Every day in hospitals all over America, thousands of patients die of infections that used to be curable. But the antibiotics used to treat them aren't working anymore.

It's called drug resistance, and it's largely a consequence of antibiotics overuse. The more germs are exposed to antibiotics, the faster they mutate to evade being vanquished.

Dad takes a cholesterol-lowering statin so he'll be around to see the kids grow up. But statins, like Lipitor and Zocor, as well as some other common adult prescription drugs are causing a rise in poisonings among children, a study says.

The big surprise is that children are at risk not just from opioid painkillers like Vicodin and OxyContin, which most parents know need to be kept away from kids.

Chinese doctors report they've seen signs that the bird flu virus infecting humans is able to overcome one of the few drugs used to fight it.

In a report published online Tuesday by The Lancet, doctors report on 14 patients infected with the H7N9 virus and admitted to the Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center in April. All the people came down with pneumonia, and two died.

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