Tag Archives: drug industry

What Trump’s drug manufacturing order may mean for seniors

Photo: fauxto_digit via Flickr

President Trump’s recent executive order, which mandates certain government agencies to “buy American” drugs and medical equipment, is setting up a potential clash with the powerful drug manufacturers’ lobby.

The order, issued August 6, would require agencies like the Department of Veterans Affairs or Department of Health and Human Services to procure domestically produced drugs and medical supplies to help mitigate shortages and difficulty obtaining certain medications from overseas suppliers. Continue reading

Gays excluded from clinical trials

Thanks to an awards announcement from the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, we just noticed Jen Colletta’s story in the Philadelphia Gay News about the exclusion of gays from clinical trials. Colletta won an Excellence in News Writing Award. The exclusion of gays in clinical trials is an issue that hasn’t received much mainstream attention, apart from a letter from Colletta’s sources in NEJM, a write-up by Ed Silverman and a story in The Philadelphia Inquirer.

According to Colletta, the data behind the story grew out of a chance discovery by researchers at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia.

“We review all the different trials that are proposed here, and they don’t necessarily open here, but a lot of them are multi-center trials so we do look at them. And I saw that we had been looking at a number of clinical trials that explicitly excluded gay people, and they didn’t necessarily open at Fox Chase, but I started to become more attuned to this and realized that this is a bigger, national issue,” (Brian Egleston, assistant research professor of biostatistics at the center) said.

The researchers analyzed trials listed in the ClinicalTrials.gov database, maintained by the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration.

In particular, Colletta reported, homosexuals are excluded from studies about couples, especially those dealing with erectile dysfunction, which are often related to treatments for prostate cancer. It’s entirely normal for a drug trial to have exclusion criteria, but an oversight in NIH regulations mean that the exclusion of homosexuals, unlike exclusion along racial lines, can be implemented arbitrarily.

In the mid-1990s, Congress mandated that NIH establish a set of guidelines that would prevent it from excluding minorities, such as women and African Americans, from federally funded clinical trials unless there was a significant reason. There are currently no such rules regulating the inclusion of LGBT individuals.

The distribution of exclusionary studies is particularly interesting. To put it in perspective, here’s a quick visualization of the data put forth in the NEJM letter:


Harvard to revise policy on speaking to media

Duff Wilson of The New York Times reports that Harvard Medical School is revising a recent policy that limited students’ contact with the news media.

Students say the policy was enacted to keep them from speaking out about things such as medical conflicts of interest.

The policy says: “All interactions between students and the media should be coordinated with the Office of the Dean of Students and the Office of Public Affairs. This applies to situations in which students are contacted by the media as well as instances in which students may be seeking publicity about a student-related project or program.”

The dean of students says the policy was intended to help students but it was approved shortly after students spoke to a reporter about the influence of drug company money on faculty.