Tag Archives | Big Pharma

America’s Concentration Threatened By Adderall Shortage

2310749647_339fa45387Is Adderall the crystal meth of the middle and upper classes? Well, both drugs became huge at around the same time. The Fix writes that prices are skyrocketing and panic and withdrawal are setting in across the nation as pharmacies’ shelves run short:

When Jay V.’s pharmacist told him about the nationwide Adderall shortages last weekend, he reacted as any economically rational finance professional would, and attempted to bribe her. Whatever the cost, “it’s cheaper than cocaine,” his reasoning went. And even if it isn’t, you can’t put a price on never having to go back to doing bumps in the work bathroom to get through late night deal committee meetings, can you?

Jay’s pharmacist said she was reserving her supply for regular customers, but that the price had doubled and the clock was ticking.

If addiction is the kind of thing you think about a lot, it’s easy to overlook its significance in the cold, objective Realpolitik scheme of things, which is this: it’s a great fucking business model.

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President Obama Issues Executive Order To Ease Shortages in Vital Medicines

Empty BottleWhatever Obama does, the Republicans will say it’s the wrong thing to do … but wouldn’t it be something if he dealt with the root of the problem (Big Pharma)? Lara Salahi reports for ABC News:

While many advocates say President Obama’s executive order to reduce a dire shortage of life-saving hospital medications is an essential step, others say the order is not enough to stop price gouging by some pharmaceutical companies.

Essential cancer drugs have arguably taken the hardest hit. Hospitals have reported the worst shortage in nearly a decade of chemotherapy agents like doxorubicin.

The new order instructs the Food and Drug Administration to broaden reporting of potential drug shortages, expedite regulatory reviews that can help prevent shortages, and examine whether potential shortages have led to price gouging. The drug shortage has compromised or delayed care for some patients and may have led to otherwise preventable deaths.

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Should All Human Beings Pop the (Theoretical) ‘Limitless’ Pill?

LimitlessYes, a pop culture way to ask a “Brave New World” question. Rahul Parikh poses on Salon:

The film’s “miracle” drug may seem far-fetched, but it’s based in a medical reality: Taking certain medications, specifically those developed to treat psychiatric and neurological disorders, can boost cognitive performance in otherwise healthy people.

Many of us instinctively recoil from such an idea for moral reasons. Sculpting our brains, unlike, say, sculpting our noses, seems like cheating. But consider this: 7 percent of surveyed college students (and some 25 percent of those on elite campuses) have taken an unprescribed Ritalin — or a similar drug used to treat attention deficit disorder — to boost their performance on an exam.

And the phenomenon is not restricted to college students trying to raise their grade point averages: The military has a history of encouraging — and sometimes even ordering — soldiers to take Ritalin or Provigil, a drug that boosts alertness.

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Tylenol, Extra Strength, Is the Number One Cause of Liver Failure

Tylenol Extra StrengthBig Pharma being responsible? Are we living on Htrae? Via USA Today:

TRENTON, NJ — Johnson & Johnson said Thursday that it’s reducing the maximum daily dose of its Extra Strength Tylenol pain reliever to lower risk of accidental overdose from acetaminophen, its active ingredient and the top cause of liver failure.

The company’s McNeil Consumer Healthcare Division said the change affects Extra Strength Tylenol sold in the U.S. — one of many products in short supply in stores due to a string of recalls.

Starting sometime this fall, labels on Extra Strength Tylenol packages will now list the maximum daily dose as six pills, or a total of 3,000 milligrams, down from eight pills a day, or 4,000 milligrams. Beginning next year, McNeil will also reduce the maximum daily dose for its Regular Strength Tylenol and other adult pain relievers containing acetaminophen, the most widely used pain killer in the country.

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Anti-Depressant Patients Are More Likely to Suffer Depression Relapse

Prozac Pills

Photo: Tom Varco (CC)

From ScienceDaily:

In a paper that is likely to ignite new controversy in the hotly debated field of depression and medication, evolutionary psychologist Paul Andrews concludes that patients who have used anti-depressant medications can be nearly twice as susceptible to future episodes of major depression.

Andrews, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour, is the lead author of a new paper in the journal Frontiers of Psychology.

The meta-analysis suggests that people who have not been taking any medication are at a 25 per cent risk of relapse, compared to 42 per cent or higher for those who have taken and gone off an anti-depressant.

Andrews and his colleagues studied dozens of previously published studies to compare outcomes for patients who used anti-depressants compared to those who used placebos.

They analyzed research on subjects who started on medications and were switched to placebos, subjects who were administered placebos throughout their treatment, and subjects who continued to take medication throughout their course of treatment.

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U.S. Hooked On Anti-Psychotics

Photo:  FtWashGuy (CC)

Photo: FtWashGuy (CC)

James Ridgeway, senior Washington correspondent with Mother Jones Magazine, author of 16 books and contributor to disinformation anthologies, writes for Al Jazeera that Big Pharma has got America hooked on psychotic drugs:

Has America become a nation of psychotics? You would certainly think so, based on the explosion in the use of antipsychotic medications. In 2008, with over $14 billion in sales, antipsychotics became the single top-selling therapeutic class of prescription drugs in the United States, surpassing drugs used to treat high cholesterol and acid reflux.

Once upon a time, antipsychotics were reserved for a relatively small number of patients with hard-core psychiatric diagnoses – primarily schizophrenia and bipolar disorder – to treat such symptoms as delusions, hallucinations, or formal thought disorder. Today, it seems, everyone is taking antipsychotics. Parents are told that their unruly kids are in fact bipolar, and in need of anti-psychotics, while old people with dementia are dosed, in large numbers, with drugs once reserved largely for schizophrenics.

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Should We Say “Maybe” to Drugs in Afghanistan?

Afghan PoppiesThere’s a global morphine shortage in the west (while the Taliban is financing terrorism through black-market opium). So for over a year, a mainstream journalist for both Information Week and Library Journal has been contacting Congressmen about the “Sustainable Opportunities for Rural Afghans Act.” (“Whereas granting rural Afghan farming families an economic ally other than the Taliban is good for the national security of the United States…”)

Basically, the act would allow American pharmaceutical companies to buy opium from the farmers in Afghanistan — and even offer aid and bonuses to the farmers to deter their cooperation with the Taliban (before eventually transitioning them to other crops). “Action has been nil and talk has been quiet,” the reporter writes, even though it could help efforts to “defeat, disrupt, and dismantle” al Qaeda and its allies.

“As we press our advantage after the death of bin Laden, it seems reasonable to use every available tool toward our stated goal.”

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Big Pharma Has No Idea What the Hell Their Drug Will Do to You

Pharma DrugsKyle Wagner writes on Gizmodo:
Everyone's cracked wise about cheerful voices in commercials telling us that an erectile dysfunction drug might make you blind, but have you ever read the full list of side effects? Prescription medication labels average an insane 70 possible side effects, according to a new study. The study examined 5,600 medications, and found the worst offenders to be antidepressants, antiviral medications, and restless leg syndrome medications treatments. One especially ridiculous drug listed 525. The exhaustive lists fly in the face of FDA guidelines asking drug companies to keep the lists manageable. Obviously, 525 is a preposterous number of side effects to list on a label, but isn't it just as concerning that we're prescribing drugs that could go wrong in 500 different ways?
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Will Big Pharma Take Over The American Market For Medical Marijuana?

MedMarjIf the hundreds of uses for cannabis doesn’t plead the case for its legalization, the money made from its medical industry just might do it. The Washington Independent reports:

The American Independent has previously reported on the growing corporatization of the incipient medical marijuana industry at a time when medical marijuana dispensaries scrabble to hold on to their businesses in the face of a multi-pronged federal crackdown. But there are signs afoot that it just may become ever more corporate if a Big Pharma push to get the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to recognize a cannabis-derived drug is successful.

Last week, British prescription drug manufacturer GW Pharmaceuticals announced a licensing agreement with drug giant Novartis, maker of Ritalin and Excedrin, to begin selling GW’s drug Sativex in markets across Asia, Africa, Oceania and the Middle East. The medication is already available in Britain, where it’s produced and marketed by Bayer, and in Canada and Spain.

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The Top Ten Prescription Drugs In America

Health care research firm IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics has released its annual Top Ten list of prescription drugs: Vicodin5mg
  1. Vicodin (hydrocodone/acetaminophen)
  2. Zocor (simvastatin)
  3. Lisinopril
  4. Synthoid (levothyroxine sodium)
  5. Norvasc (amlodipine besylate)
  6. Prilosec (omeprazole)
  7. Zithromax (azithromycin)
  8. Amoxicillin
  9. Metformin (Glucophage)
  10. Hydrochlorothiazide
The list above is clearly dominated by generic drugs, which are shown to quickly overtake sales of the far more expensive brand name drugs. Classified by the amount spent on prescription drugs, the list looks very different:

1.  Lipitor® 2.  Nexium® 3.  Plavix® 4.  Advair Diskus® 5.  Abilify®

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