In her book, “Bottle of Lies: The Inside Story of the Generic Drug Boom,” Eban reveals how generic drug makers not only help ensure that some of the worst quality drugs enter the least regulated markets but also take extreme measures to avoid regulatory scrutiny. Harper Collins/Ecco’s Hardcover division published the book on May 14. Continue reading
The registration and reporting requirements of Clinicaltrials.gov are vital to informing the evidence base – but only if study sponsors actually use it and keep entries updated. A recent research letter in JAMA Internal Medicine suggests this is not happening often enough. That’s helpful for journalists to know if they are attempting to find all the recent evidence on a particular drug or intervention.
“Missing or incomplete reporting of clinical trial results and its scientific and ethical consequences are well documented,” wrote Kevin M. Fain, J.D., M.P.H., Dr.PH, and his team at the National Institutes of Health.
When newly installed Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar held one of his first meetings with the media on Feb. 8, only three reporters were invited. They got a sneak peek at drug price provisions contained in President Trump’s budget, while other reporters had to wait days to get questions answered.
The topic – tackling the cost of pharmaceuticals – was one of Azar’s signature issues, but he chose to discuss it only with the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, and the Daily Caller. Continue reading
About 25 journalists gathered on March 18 at Bistro d’Oc in Washington, D.C., for an AHCJ chapter happy hours event with top communications officials with PhRMA and several of its member pharmaceutical companies.
There was no formal program, just a chance to meet PhrMA officials and representatives of companies that included Novo Nordisk, GlaxoSmithKline and Bristol-Myers Squibb.
Journalists from The Washington Post, Kaiser Health News, Politico, U.S. News & World Reports and Inside Health Policy were among those in attendance. AHCJ helped cover costs for journalists, who were asked for a voluntary $10 to defray expenses.
Health journalists received a few lessons in economics during a discussion last week on some alarming drug trends – largely the result of a broken market – that are threatening patient care and undermining the U.S. health care system.
At a New York City chapter event, Phil Zweig, a longtime financial journalist who also runs a group called Physicians Against Drug Shortages, spoke about the scarcity of generic drugs in hospitals and clinics – a problem that has persisted for years. Hospital group purchasing organizations (GPOs), which are not regulated and essentially negotiate supply purchases for hospitals, have the ability to charge market share to the highest bidder. Zweig said they can do this because the safe harbor provision in the 1987 Medicare anti-kickback law excluded GPOs from criminal prosecution for taking kickbacks from suppliers.
“The more you can pay to a GPO, the more market share you get,” Zweig said.
Because of the exclusive contracts that GPOs award, the number of competitors in the market shrinks, which has led to a shortage of generic prescription drugs – everything from sterile injectables to chemotherapy agents. Continue reading
Reporters curious about the financial relationship between physicians and pharmaceutical companies can use publicly available data as a starting point – although that comes with some caveats, journalists and industry leaders say.
During the workshop “Covering prescription drug data,” Charles Ornstein, ProPublica senior reporter, pointed out resources that ProPublica has created that reporters can use to write stories about doctors in their communities. Continue reading