Latest Drugwonks' Blog
The media is abuzz with the news that big drug companies are rolling out drugs that will compete with cancer drugs like Herceptin that target certain pathways or genetic mutations that cause cancer instead of killing the cancer cells themselves. Not exactly. By definition, a targeted medicine does not compete since it hones in on a specific approach or response. Case in point the BMS drug dasatinib which was developed after researchers noticed that a certain subset of patients on Gleevec developed resistance to the drug after a while. Other targeted cancer drugs have the same narrow application at first but then can expand to other uses as the same pathways are implicated in other disease mechanisms…And finally, genetic and protein analysis will determine who are high responders and who are not.
It is getting quite complicated. Better for patients. Which is what matters most. The challenge will be to translate all this into solutions that reduce death and suffering and extending the model to other diseases…
DateLine NBC ran a segment tonight on counterfeit drugs. While this story is nothing new to you drugwonks out there, it’s serving as an overdue wake-up call to tens of millions of Americans. This summer, in collaboration with the Stockholm Network and the Centre for the New Europe, the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest (the home of drugwonks.com) will publish a new book called “Coincidence or Crisis: Prescription Drug Counterfeiting.” It features articles by many leading policy experts, an introduction by Congressman Mark Souder, and is edited by your’s truly.
If you would like additional information on how to order this important new book, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Not coincidentally, on June 7th I will be testifying in front of the US-China Economic & Security Review Commission on the topic of prescription drug counterfeiting in China. My testimony will begin at 3:30 in room 385, Russell Senate Office Building. Transcripts of the entire hearing will be available at www.uscc.gov
Recess appointment for an important public health official.
I had the privilege to chair an FDA reform task force for the Manhattan Institute, an undertaking Mark McClellan suggested after I invited him to speak at an MI event when I was an MI senior fellow in 2003. I met with two senior FDA officals — Peter Pitts and Scott Gottlieb — that same year about how the report might help to advance the FDA’s fledgling Critical Path initiative. Peter was — like the rest of the FDAers involved in the project — visionary, supportive and courageous in combatting the negativism surrounding the effort. The Task Force we put together was (and is) dedicated, caring and thoughtful, working for free and giving graciously of their time, effort and insights. The result is a biomedical call to arms to apply the insights of drug discovery to the process of drug develpment to make medicine more predictive, preventive and personalized. The agenda surrounding the rollout of the report is below. We hope you can all attend.
AGENDA & REGISTRATION:
CENTER FOR MEDICAL PROGRESS
Prescription for Progress: The Critical Path for
by Robert Goldberg, PhD and Peter Pitts
M Street Hotel
1143 New Hampshire Avenue, N.W.
Thursday, June 8, 2006
Andrew C. von Eschenbach, M.D.
Acting Commissioner, U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Introduction and Overview
Robert Goldberg, Ph.D., Chairman, 21st Century FDA Task Force, Vice President & Co-Founder, Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, Peter Pitts, Director, Center for Medicine in the Public Interest
Panel 1: Roundtable on Prescription for Progress: The Critical Path to Drug Development
Moderator: Michael Weber, M.D., Professor of Medicine, SUNY Downstate College of Medicine
Jeffrey Cossman, M.D., Chief Scientific Officer, The Critical Path Institute
Gualberto Ruano, M.D., Ph.D., President, Genomas, and Director of Cardiovascular Research, Hartford Hospital
Robert McBurney, Ph.D., Senior Vice President, Research and Development, and Chief Scientific Officer, BG Medicine, Inc,
Scott Gottlieb, M.D., Deputy Commissioner for Medical and Scientific Affairs, FDA
Panel II: The Critical Path Today and Tomorrow: Challenges and Opportunities
Moderator: Steve Usdin, Senior Editor, BioCentury Publications
Janet Woodcock, M.D., Deputy Commissioner for Operations, FDA
Meryl Comer, Patient Advocate for Alzheimeré¾ Research
Peter Hotez, Ph.D, M.D., Professor and Chair, Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Tropical Medicine, George Washington University Medical Center
Keynote: Andrew von Eschenbach, M.D., Acting Commissioner, FDA
This from Fiercehealthcare.com: ” A new study by researchers at Kaiser Permanente finds that spending caps on prescription drugs don’t save insurers money and may end up harming the health of patients—especially those who are chronically ill. The research, which appears in the New England Journal of Medicine, followed about 200,000 Kaiser Permanente patients in Northern California who had Medicare+Choice (now referred to as Medicare Advantage). The study found that those with limits were more likely to end up hospitalized and often chose not to pay for their medicines themselves. Researchers like Steve Soumerai at Harvard have essentially been saying the same thing for more than a decade now, but with Medicare in the business of paying for drugs, this type of research may have more impact on benefit design.”
So has our colleague and board member Susan Horn of the Inst. for CLinical Outcomes Research who showed way back in 1996 that formulary restrictions were associated with keeping people sicker and driving up health care costs.
On the one hand we have the WSJ editorial page claiming that there are no cost offsets to a drug benefit and on the other we have the leftists claiming that restrictive drug formularies as a tool for extracting price concessions won’t hurt patients. Yet here is another study showing that caps of any kind compromise health and drive up total spending…. And yet opponents of the drug benefit on either side keep serving up the same stupid argument in an increasingly hysterical form. How did Santayana define fanaticism: It consists of redoubling your effort when you have forgotten your aim. Exactly.
The NEJM article link can be found here:http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/354/22/2349?query=TOC
And speaking of hysterical…get a load of Congresswoman Louise Slaughter’s off-base attack on Part D in the same medical journal. Compare it with the essay by Mark McClellan and Peter Bach. It’s not even worth trying to refute all the lies and inaccuracies except to say that any drug benefit that is cutting costs by massive use of generic drugs is not generating brand drug companes $139 billion in gross profits. That number, a fake factoid drawn up by the urban planner who pretends he is an economist — Alan Sager — was immediately discredited by the people who really know their stuff — the Wall Street analysts who would have issue heavy buy recommendations if gross profits would have increase 50 percent in one year….Yet the MSM and then John Kerry and now Slaughter continue to invoke this number… As it turns out of course, what drug companies that are making money are doing so with new products, many of which are not covered by Part D plans….because they are cancer products.
The two dueling articles can be found here:
We at drugwonks are relentless in the pursuit of more participants and wont rest until we exceed the traffic of insufferable and ego-bloated Huffington blog (amazing what how far one woman can go on her ex-husband’s money and a private jet) . But we do have a perspective…our hits are just beginning to exceed those average daily downloads of this gem: William Shatner’s rendition of Elton John’s “Rocket Man” at the 1978 Science Fiction something or other awards dinner
Cut, paste, download and enjoy and tell your friends…about drugwonks of course.
Democrat Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro is making a big stink that her amendment to have the FDA forcibly yank drugs off the market before companies are forced to conduct large randomized studies to establish a safety problem was lifted out of an appropriations bill. Rosa is hypocritical. Here’s Rosa — a cancer survivor — on the vaccine to prevent cervical cancer: Ã¢Women across the country should be encouraged, as I am today, with mounting scientific evidence of the benefits of the HPV vaccine,Ã¢ said DeLauro. Ã¢It is clear that the science exists to fight a cancer that thousands of women fall victim to each year and there is now significant scientific and medical evidence proving the benefits of the HPV vaccine. With countless public health officials and medical providers agreeing on this medical breakthrough, I am hopeful the FDA will approve this vaccine for use.Ã¢
DeLauro, a member of that subcommittee and a cancer survivor, is also the ranking member of the House Appropriations Agriculture Subcommittee with oversight responsibilities of the FDA and its budget. In November, she and over 100 Members of Congress wrote the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices urging them to make a decision for use based on the advice of medical providers, researchers and public health officials.
As with all products, vaccines will yield safety problems in real world settings and may lead to serious illnesses and some deaths….Yet under Del Lauro’s proposal a vaccine that could wipe out 40percent of the viruses that cause cervical cancer could be yanked forcibly if companies don’t conduct safety studies that get at the source of the the problem….such studies could — because the statistical power and confidence level needed — be ten times the size of the study required to prove the product was effective. And with products As FDA official Scott Gottlieb noted in his blog (fdainsider.com),”The biggest reason why companies are unable to complete post-market studies after drugs are approved through the accelerated pathway, is that all of these drugs treat life-threatening disorders (they have to in order to qualify for accelerated approval) and dying patients are unwilling to roll the dice on a placebo controlled trial Ã¢ taking a chance they may get little more than a sugar pill Ã¢ when the drugs are readily available on the market.” Indeed, there are questions if it is ethical to deliberately deny a potentially effective treatment to a patient for study purposes. But Del Lauro would make it a crime not to run such trials.
In fact, there are dozens of studies being conducted independent of the FDA. For instance, Bristol Myers Squibb is working on a drug that is tailored to people whose cancer is Gleevec resistant. There are dozens of studies of genetic tests in development that if used before a drug is taken will help patients avoid well know toxicitieis.
But Del Lauro would suffocate medical progress in order to make a few headlines. She would fine the inventors of innovative medicines for life-threatening illnesses millions of dollars and would deny millions of patients accelerated access to medicines. Her amendment was a death sentence for people like her who live with cancer everyday. Is there anything people won’t do for political gain?
This will drive Drew Altman of the Kaiser Foundation nuts since he belives consumers are too stupid to decide what’s best for them when it comes to health care (has he been paying attention to the Medicare drug benefit?) it should be pointed out that in another step in helping consumers, providers, and payers make more informed healthcare decisions, CMS will be posting information on what Medicare pays for 30 elective inpatient hospital procedures and other common hospital admissions later today. The new information will be posted by CMS at www.cms.hhs.gov. The information takes a snapshot look down to the county level at the amounts paid by Medicare paid for a variety of treatments provided to seniors and people with disabilities in fiscal year 2005. These include procedures such as heart operations and implanting cardiac defibrillators, hip and knee replacements, kidney and urinary tract operations, gallbladder operations and back and neck operations, and common non-surgical admissions.
The information is scheduled to be posted around 2 pm today. A press release will announce the posting of this information.
RE: Follow-on Biologics
Beware putting cart before horse.
And don’t call them generics.
“Indeed, wretched the man whose fame makes his misfortunes famous.”
— Lucius Accius
Bloomberg reports that, according to a sealed transcript of videotaped testimony taken for Vioxx litigation, Dr. David Graham accused FDA officials of working “hand in glove” with Merck to tarnish him.
Are you thinking “visions of grandeur?” Keep reading …
“I experienced threats, intimidation and actually what, in my view, appears to have been a very organized and orchestrated campaign to smear and discredit me,’” said Graham.
Here’s the threat — an important new job.
Graham said former FDA Commissioner Lester Crawford had offered him a promotion nine days before his Senate testimony. Graham said he declined and was surprised by the timing.
“The commissioner is offering me this really high-level job with a lot of responsibility, and then one week later, he’s calling me all sorts of names in an FDA public statement that’s issued on the eve of my Senate testimony,’” Graham said.
Really? I don’t recall any name-calling by Dr. Crawford. And why didn’t Graham accept this “really high level job with a lot of responsibility?”
Why not work to make things better?
Odd? Mysterious? Nope. Just sad.
David, your 15 minutes are up.