Archive for December, 2007

CALPIRG Statement on Governor’s Proposed Health Care Legislation

Friday, December 21st, 2007

Statement by Mike Russo, Health Care Advocate and Staff Attorney for CALPIRG:

“We welcome Gov. Schwarzenegger’s announcement today that he has released the details of his health care reform proposal. Now all sides have put their cards on the table, and lawmakers can continue shaping the comprehensive health care reform California needs.

“The current proposal will limit the insurance companies’ ability to deny sick Californians coverage and charge them higher premiums. It also requires insurance companies to spend 85 percent of premium dollars on health care, assuring consumers that their monthly premiums go to health benefits, not administrative overhead or excess profits.

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GlaxoSmithKline Arixtra found effective

Friday, December 21st, 2007


Studies of the GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) drug Arixtra (fondaparinux sodium) have found it to be effective. Artemis (Arixtra for Thromboembolism prevention in a Medical Indications Study) found the treatment reduced the risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE) by 46.7 per cent.

Dr Alexander Cohen, of King’s College Hospital London and chairman of the Artemis steering committee, said: “VTE presents a significant risk to this patient population, however we have had limited understanding of the effectiveness of clot prevention to address VTE in this group. “These results show that Arixtra is an effective and well tolerated treatment that can reduce the risk of VTE for these patients, further helping us to define the role of anti-thrombotics in this setting.” Dr Lawson Macartney, of GSK, added: “GSK is excited about these results that support Arixtra in the treatment of this population, and may help to expand the application of Arixtra in clinical practice.”
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AstraZeneca withdraws Exanta

Friday, December 21st, 2007


AstraZeneca is to withdraw the anticoagulant Exanta (melagatran/ximelagatran) from the market and end its development. The venous thromboembolism (VTE) treatment has been withdrawn due to new data about the possibility of liver damage.

AstraZeneca chief executive David Brennan said: “We have decided to take this precautionary action in the interests of patient safety. “There are a number of alternative options for short-term post-operative anticoagulation following orthopaedic surgery. We would like to recognise the involvement of doctors, patients and scientists and their commitment to the development of Exanta over the past years.” He added: “Thrombosis is one of the greatest threats to human health and represents a significant public health burden. AstraZeneca remains committed to the discovery and development of new medicines in this area to help improve patients’ lives.”
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President Signs Prescription Drug Safety Bill

Friday, December 21st, 2007

President Bush today signed a comprehensive Food and Drug Administration bill that focuses on prescription drug safety reforms. The bill holds the prescription drug industry more accountable for the safety of their products by requiring them to publicly disclose drug safety studies, even the ones that show their medicines in an unflattering light. It also increases the budget for drug safety reviews at the Food and Drug Administration.

Statement by CALPIRG Advocate Emily Rusch:

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Prescription Drug Safety Measure Clears Assembly Committee

Friday, December 21st, 2007

California bill will prod national decision makers, serve in lieu of federal policy if Congress fails to act

SACRAMENTO—The California Assembly Health Committee passed the Pharmaceutical Drug Information and Safety Act, SB 606 (Scott), today with all members present voting in favor of the bill. The measure will require pharmaceutical companies to disclose the results of clinical studies, meaning that doctors, patients, researchers and even industry competitors will gain access to information on the side effects and effectiveness of medicine currently on the market.

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Medical metal detector finds lost orthopedic screws

Friday, December 21st, 2007

Inspired by the device used to find lost coins in the sand, Johns Hopkins undergraduates have invented a small handheld metal detector to help doctors locate hidden orthopedic screws that need to be removed from patients’ bodies. The device emits a tone that rises in pitch as the surgeon moves closer to the metal screw. It also serves as a surgical tool to guide the removal of the hardware.

Orthopedic screws, usually made of a stainless steel or titanium alloy, are produced in varying lengths and can have screwheads that range from roughly 3 to 7 millimeters in diameter. Orthopedic surgeons often use these screws and related hardware to hold broken bone fragments together for proper healing. These doctors often need to remove orthopedic screws that shift position, trigger an infection or cause pain, but skin and scar tissue can make it difficult to find the troublesome hardware, even with the aid of real-time X-ray technology. The small handheld detector is designed to zero in on the hardware and steer the doctor’s screwdriver into position for prompt removal.

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Prescription Drug Safety Measure Clears Assembly Committee

Friday, December 21st, 2007

California bill will prod national decision makers, serve in lieu of federal policy if Congress fails to act

SACRAMENTO—The California Assembly Health Committee passed the Pharmaceutical Drug Information and Safety Act, SB 606 (Scott), today with all members present voting in favor of the bill. The measure will require pharmaceutical companies to disclose the results of clinical studies, meaning that doctors, patients, researchers and even industry competitors will gain access to information on the side effects and effectiveness of medicine currently on the market.

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Consumer Groups Laud Agreement on Prescription Drug Discounts

Friday, December 21st, 2007

Statement of CALPIRG Health Care Advocate Emily Clayton on the prescription drug discount agreement

“CALPIRG is pleased to join a broad coalition of organizations representing consumers, seniors, working families and communities of color in supporting SB 1702 and AB 2911 by Senator Perata and Speaker Nez. This legislation is a crucial step forward in the ongoing fight to bring affordable medicine to all Californians.

“The discounts provided by this legislation will lower the cost of prescription drugs for more than five million low and moderate income uninsured Californians. The plan gives the pharmaceutical industry three years to voluntarily offer meaningful discounts. If they refuse, the state may, just as all large insurers do, use the weight of its purchasing power to induce discounts. The legislation also includes a series of strong consumer protections that ensure no Medi-Cal patient will be denied access to a medically necessary drug.

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GlaxoSmithKline antibiotic goes to FDA review

Friday, December 21st, 2007


The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has begun its review of GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK) investigational antibacterial retapamulin. GSK submitted a new drug application (NDA) for retapamulin in November last year and expects to receive approval later this year.

Retapamulin was developed as a treatment for skin and skin structure infections due to susceptible strains of Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes. A GSK spokesman explained the importance of the new antibiotic.
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Merck KGaA profits up

Friday, December 21st, 2007


The German chemical and pharmaceutical company Merck KGaA had its profits rise for the final quarter of last year by 34 per cent to 109.5 million euros. The growth was said to be down to increased demand for liquid crystals for computer displays.

For 2005 as a whole, sales rose 9.9 per cent and profits were almost unchanged at 659 million euros. Merck executive board chairman Dr Michael Roemer said: “The year 2005 was very successful for Merck thanks to innovative products and the hard work of our employees. “As we see this level of success continuing, we expect our top and bottom lines for 2006 - excluding exceptional items - will improve by a high single-digit rate. In fact, we see no reason why this development should not continue beyond this year.”
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