Pharmaceuticals

The promise of genetic medicine is beginning to be fulfilled, but it's been a long, hard slog.

Take the story of Kalydeco. It's designed to treat people with a lung disease called cystic fibrosis. While not quite a cure, the drug is extremely effective for some CF patients.

But the success of Kalydeco has been more than two decades in the making.

Katie Alonzo was stunned when doctors told her they couldn't get a drug her 10-year-old daughter, Abby, was taking to fight lymphoma.

"When a doctor says, 'This is what you need to take.' And then all of a sudden somebody tells you, 'Well, that is what you need to take but this isn't available so we're going to try this instead,' it's very scary," say Alonzo, who lives in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Niacin, a B vitamin that raises "good" cholesterol, has failed to benefit heart disease patients when taken in tandem with a statin drug that lowers "bad" cholesterol, according to drug maker Merck.

Before the advent of refrigeration, Russians had a neat trick for keeping their milk from spoiling. They'd drop a live frog in the milk bucket.

The Russians weren't sure how this amphibian dairy treatment worked, but they were convinced it did.

Since then, researchers have discovered that the goo some frogs secrete through their skin has antibacterial and antifungal properties.

Grapefruit sprinkled with a little sugar has just the right amount of kick for a morning meal. But when the bitter fruit is mixed with medication, things can get a bit tricky.

In the Election Day scramble you might have missed that Pfizer got a new drug approved for rheumatoid arthritis.

Pfizer expects the twice-a-day pill called Xeljanz will be available in pharmacies later this month.

The drug won't come cheap. The wholesale price will run about $2,000 for a month's supply, the company says.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Cara DeGette / Colorado Public News

A Colorado Public News survey of cash prescription prices across Colorado has found consumers may be overpaying, as some drug prices turned out to be 30 to 35 times wholesale cost.

Since cholesterol-fighter Lipitor went generic late last year, the price has plunged.

You can pick up atorvastatin, the generic version of Lipitor, starting at about 50 cents a pill, if you buy a month's supply at Costco. A year ago, the brand-name version went for $3.50 and up per dose. And the brand-name pills still cost around $4.28 at Costco.

An experimental drug that aimed to slow the development of plaques and help clear them from the brains of Alzheimer's patients failed in two late-stage studies conducted by Eli Lilly & Co., the company said today.

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