Category Archives: Pharmaceuticals

New report on Big Pharma settlements highlights need for tougher enforcement

Michael A. Carome, M.D.

About Michael A. Carome, M.D.

Dr. Michael A. Carome, M.D., is the director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group. He is an expert on issues of drug and medical device safety, pharmacy compounding, Food and Drug Administration oversight, health care policy, and the protection of human research subjects.

In honor of Sunshine Week, AHCJ invited organizations devoted to government transparency to write about how their work can help health care reporters. Here is the second of four.

Public Citizen’s Health Research Group today released an updated report cataloging all major financial settlements that the pharmaceutical industry has been forced to sign with federal and state governments from 1991 through 2017 for illegal activities.

The report shows a dramatic decrease since 2013 in both the total amount paid and the average penalty. Additionally, it found that state governments have virtually stopped prosecuting pharmaceutical manufacturers on their own initiative and with their own resources. Continue reading

Medical ethicist discusses Right-to-Try legislation

Sibyl Wilmont

About Sibyl Wilmont

Sibyl Wilmont is a second-career registered nurse and clinical researcher with more than 25 years of experience in health care journalism, patient advocacy, pharmaceutical/biotech PR, and academic medical communications.

Photo: Marko Javorac via Flickr

Taken at face value, Right-to-Try (RTT) legislation sounds like a no-brainer, promising to improve access to treatments yet unapproved for marketing by the FDA for people with terminal illnesses. But it’s not that simple, according to Alison Bateman-House, Ph.D., M.P.H., M.A., an ethicist and assistant professor at the New York University School of Medicine.

In fact, many of its basic provisions make it unlikely to deliver on its promise. At a New York City Metro AHCJ Chapter meeting in November, she discussed reasons for her argument that RTT will only serve to limit, rather than expand, access to potentially life-saving treatments. Continue reading

Antibiotic resistance in food-poisoning bacteria on the rise

Bara Vaida

About Bara Vaida

Bara Vaida (@barav) is AHCJ's core topic leader on infectious diseases. An independent journalist, she has written extensively about health policy and infectious diseases. Her work has appeared in outlets that include the National Journal, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News, McClatchy News Service, MSNBC, NPR, Politico and The Washington Post.

Photo: NIH Image Gallery via FlickrSalmonella bacteria invade an immune cell.

A report released by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration showed that an increasing number of Americans infected with the foodborne pathogen, salmonella, are resistant to multiple antibiotics.

In 2015, multidrug resistance rose to 12 percent of salmonella cases, from 9 percent the year before, the FDA said. Eating raw or undercooked meat, poultry or egg products can cause salmonella infection. Continue reading

Reporter’s work pushes regulators, legislators to act on opioids

Susan Heavey

About Susan Heavey

Susan Heavey, (@susanheavey) a Washington, D.C.-based journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on social determinants of health and curates related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on resources and tip sheets at determinants@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: Sam Owens, Charleston Gazette-MailEric Eyre’s investigative series, Painkiller Profiteers, chronicled massive pain pill shipments to West Virginia. This shows the cremated ashes of a West Virginia woman who died from a drug overdose.

Lack of work, educational gaps, despair, overprescribing – there’s a host of reasons behind the nation’s opioid crisis. It may seem daunting to reporters who want to nail down the epidemic’s causes, but sometimes you just have to keep digging – literally.

West Virginia reporter Eric Eyre realized something was off when, during a trip to the state pharmacy board, he began digging through boxes filled with faxes from drug wholesalers reporting suspicious pharmacy activity. Continue reading

What’s next for drug costs? #AHCJ17 hears from the experts – including a patient

Joanne Kenen

About Joanne Kenen

Joanne Kenen, (@JoanneKenen) the health editor at Politico, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health reform and curates related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on health reform resources and tip sheets at joanne@healthjournalism.org. Follow her on Facebook.

President Donald Trump has spoken about the cost of drugs frequently. Though not always clearly and consistently, he has called for government negotiation of prices. Drug prices also have caught Congress’s eye, although we’re not quite sure what (if anything) legislators are willing to do about it.

But patients are fed up, as David Mitchell, founder of Patients for Affordable Drugs reminded us last week during a Health Journalism 2017 session in Orlando. Continue reading