Just as doctors were losing hope that they would find a drug capable of reducing heart risks for patients with diabetes, a new study identified one that may drive down the chances that such patients will die of a heart attack, stroke or heart failure. Compared with clinical trial subjects who took a placebo, those who added Jardiance to their regimen of diabetes medications were 38% less likely to die as a result of a heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular problem during the approximately three years that subjects were tracked. (Healy, 9/18) Los Angeles Times: ‘Amazing’ Diabetes Drug Drives Down Fatal Heart Attacks And Strokes, Study Finds This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. Los Angeles Times: New Prescription Drugs Can Help Patients, But Their High Prices Elicit Ire Specialists in infectious disease are protesting a gigantic overnight increase in the price of a 62-year-old drug that is the standard of care for treating a life-threatening parasitic infection. The drug, called Daraprim, was acquired in August by Turing Pharmaceuticals, a start-up run by a former hedge fund manager. Turing immediately raised the price to $750 a tablet from $13.50, bringing the annual cost of treatment for some patients to hundreds of thousands of dollars. (Pollack, 9/20) They sounded like three deadly strikes. The patient had a dangerously high level of LDL cholesterol, a high risk for heart disease and an intolerance for the most common cholesterol-fighting medication. Dr. William Averill, a Torrance cardiologist, thought he had a solution: Praluent, a cholesterol-lowering drug from pharmaceutical companies Regeneron and Sanofi that had just been approved by the FDA as a treatment for people who didn’t benefit from the standard cholesterol treatment. (Pfeifer, 9/20) The New York Times: Drug Goes From $13.50 A Tablet To $750, Overnight [I]n May 2014, Dr. Robert M. Califf gave a presentation … [and] spoke about ways to quicken the pace of biomedical innovation by transforming research. Toward the end he showed a slide that noted one barrier: regulation. … after President Obama nominated Dr. Califf on Tuesday to become the next commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, his thoughts on the subject are suddenly taking on importance. … no one who knows him thinks he wants to weaken the regulatory agency he has been chosen to lead. But he has deeper ties to the pharmaceutical industry than any F.D.A. commissioner in recent memory, and some public health advocates question whether his background could tilt him in the direction of an industry he would be in charge of supervising. (Tavernise, 9/19) The New York Times: F.D.A. Nominee Califf’s Ties To Drug Makers Worry Some New Drugs Offer ‘Amazing’ Promise As Costs For Older Drugs Are Marked By Staggering Increases Also in the news, The New York Times profiles the new commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.
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