Pharmaceuticals

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with corporate sell-offs.

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GREENE: Bausch + Lomb has been sold. The drug maker Valeant Pharmaceuticals is buying the 160-year-old eye care company for $8.7 billion.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Stress can be a bummer for your heart. And, it seems, antidepressants may help some people with heart disease better weather that stress.

That's the intriguing suggestion from a study that tested how people with heart disease reacted when faced with challenging mental and social tests.

The U.S. District Court judge who last month ordered the Food and Drug Administration to make the most popular forms of the emergency contraceptive pill available over-the-counter with no age restrictions has denied the government's request to stay his ruling while it's on appeal.

The ubiquitous blue-toned TV ads for Viagra look downright tame compared with Pfizer's latest gambit for the impotence remedy.

Pfizer is now selling the drug directly from the official Viagra website.

Men still need a prescription for the diamond-shaped blue pills. But instead of going to the pharmacy in person, or taking their chances buying from an online pharmacy of unknown repute, men will be able to buy Viagra from the maker of the drug itself and have it shipped to their homes.

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Do you have any unwanted, unused, or expired prescriptions? Coloradans can drop off those drugs between 10 and 2 Saturday.

Now that it's spring, maybe you've decided it's time to clean out the medicine cabinet. Maybe you'd rather your teenagers not be tempted by those dusty bottles of Vicodin or other forgotten prescription drugs.

But we're told not to flush medications down the toilet because the drugs can taint rivers and lakes. Traces can also get into drinking water.

Banning cheaper, generic forms of a dangerous drug sounds like a worthy idea.

But the Food and Drug Administration's decision to bar generic OxyContin may also push patients towards less effective drugs without eliminating the risk of addiction, experts say.

"Obviously, there's a cost issue," says Lynn Webster, president of the American Academy of Pain Medicine. "Not having generics means this type of medication is going to be more expensive."

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with layoffs at Eli Lilly.

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Health care types have spent years trying to make the point that seniors are being prescribed medications that are unnecessary and dangerous. But the message hasn't really sunk in.

More than 20 percent of people with Medicare Advantage coverage are taking at least one high-risk medication, a new study finds.

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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