Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News
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Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News
Pharmaguy curates and provides insights into selected drug industry news and issues.
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Trump’s Opioid Commission is a “Sham” and For Victims of the Opioid Epidemic It’s Been a “Government Shutdown from the Start”

Trump’s Opioid Commission is a “Sham” and For Victims of the Opioid Epidemic It’s Been a “Government Shutdown from the Start” | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

The Republican-led Congress has turned the work of the president's opioid commission into a "charade" and a "sham," a member of the panel told CNN.

"Everyone is willing to tolerate the intolerable -- and not do anything about it," said former Democratic Rep. Patrick Kennedy, who was one of six members appointed to the bipartisan commission in March. "I'm as cynical as I've ever been about this stuff."


President Donald Trump declared the opioid epidemic a 90-day public health emergency in October, but did not make any new funding available. In November the president said he would donate his third quarter salary to the Department of Health and Human Services to help fight the crisis.

Trump to donate part of his salary to combat opioid addiction
Critics say the declaration did virtually nothing to change the status quo and that overdose deaths have continued to mount in the months since. The public health emergency declaration was, in fact, set to expire on January 23, but as the government was headed toward a shut down on Friday, Acting Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services Eric Hargan renewed the national public health emergency for another 90 days.


"This and the administration's other efforts to address the epidemic are tantamount to reshuffling chairs on the Titanic," said Kennedy. "The emergency declaration has accomplished little because there's no funding behind it. You can't expect to stem the tide of a public health crisis that is claiming over 64,000 lives per year without putting your money where your mouth is."


CNN sought to catch up with the six members of the opioid commission, including former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie who headed the panel, about their views on progress made and what more needs to be done. We also wanted to speak with Kellyanne Conway, the White House's point person on the opioid crisis.


Only Kennedy and Bertha K. Madras, a deputy director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy during the George W. Bush administration, agreed to speak.


With the recent government shutdown, Kennedy blasted Trump for "playing politics instead of pursuing solutions for issues that impact the lives of Americans."


"For people and families struggling with addiction in this epidemic, it's essentially been a government shutdown from the start," he said.

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Trump Nominates a Pharma Fox to Run the HHS Henhouse

Trump Nominates a Pharma Fox to Run the HHS Henhouse | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

President Trump's pick for health secretary previously served as a high-ranking executive at a pharmaceutical company that repeatedly raised the prices of its drugs, doubling the U.S. list price of its top-selling insulin over the five years he served as a company president.

 

Trump endorsed Alex Azar, a previous deputy secretary of Health and Human Services under President George W. Bush and pharmaceuticals executive at diabetes pharmaceuticals giant Eli Lilly, as “a star for better health care and lower drug prices” on Twitter.

 

Supporters said that Azar's understanding of the complicated dynamics behind pharmaceuticals pricing would give him an advantage in figuring out how to make drugs more affordable. Critics, however, noted that Azar's tenure at Lilly coincided with massive list price increases on insulin and made him particularly ill-suited to lower drug prices.

 

While Azar led Eli Lilly's largest affiliate, Lilly USA, the U.S. list price of Humalog insulin more than doubled, from $123 per vial in Jan. 2012 to $255 per vial when he left the company in early 2017, according to data from Truven Health Analytics. Lilly, along with other insulin makers, was hit by a class-action lawsuit alleging overpricing of insulin earlier this year.

 

“Alex had a successful career at Lilly, and we wish him the best in his future work,” Lilly spokesman Greg Kueterman said in an email.

 

Azar joined Lilly in 2007 as a senior vice president of global corporate affairs and communications. He rose to become president of the company's largest affiliate, Lilly USA, in 2012. Kueterman said his responsibilities included direction over the sales and marketing operations of the entire U.S. commercial business, including diabetes.

 

“This is the terrible record on price that we saw; now we’re talking about putting him in charge of the people's health agency — what reason do we have to expect any difference?” said Peter Maybarduk, director of the Access to Medicines Program at Public Citizen, a watchdog group. “It's a pharma fox to run the HHS henhouse.”

 

Further Reading:

  • “If Alex Azar Is Confirmed as HHS Secretary, the Big Pharma/Gov’t Swamp Will Get Worse”; http://sco.lt/67pLZR
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Trump’s National Health Emergency Falls Short. The Missing Piece? Naloxone

Trump’s National Health Emergency Falls Short. The Missing Piece? Naloxone | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

The Trump administration’s designation of the opioid crisis as a public health emergency on Thursday paves the way for officials to increase access to inpatient addiction treatment, redirect some federal resources, and launch a major public education campaign [but read “Does Trump's Opioid Crisis National Health Emergency Offer Anything That Hasn't Already Been Implemented?”; http://sco.lt/9B0muX].

 

But the announcement included nothing about access to naloxone, the overdose-reversal drug that first responders across the country have credited with saving innumerable lives.

 

“I think this was a missed opportunity,” said Regina LaBelle, the chief of staff for the Office of National Drug Control Policy under former president Barack Obama. “They could have purchased naloxone and distributed it to hard-hit areas, to local governments as well as to community groups.”

 

Another policy expert in Capitol Hill circles indicated the administration could also put out a bid document for drug manufacturers for naloxone and addiction treatment drugs. After negotiating a new and deeper price discount, the federal government could allow state and local governments access to the drug at the cheaper price point — an action the administration has not yet taken.

 

While LaBelle and other drug policy authorities celebrated the administration’s push to expand treatment capacity and allow telemedicine-based access to medication-assisted treatment, many said President Trump’s announcement had fallen short of recommendations from a commission he created in March to address the opioid crisis.

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Trump to Mitch McConnell: "Even you" Get Away with Murder - Accepting Oodles of $ from Pharma

Trump to Mitch McConnell: "Even you" Get Away with Murder - Accepting Oodles of $ from Pharma | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

President Trump on Monday addressed a well-established tenet of life in Washington: The pharmaceutical industry has loads of money and doesn’t hesitate to spend it on Congress.

 

“They contribute massive amounts of money to political people,” Trump said during an impromptu news conference, turning to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who was standing to his side. “I don’t know, Mitch, maybe even to you.”

 

McConnell let out a short laugh.

 

Trump was not wrong. In his last race in 2014, McConnell raked in $550,923 from the pharmaceutical and health products industries — more than any other individual lawmaker received that year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which analyzes political spending data from the Federal Election Commission.

 

Through a separate leadership political action committee, McConnell brought in another $244,000 from the sector, the database shows. Those figures represent contributions from both individuals employed by the industry and companies’ political action committees. And he’s on track to raise even more this year: in the current cycle, he’s already raised some $654,173 from the sector, all per the same Center for Responsive Politics data.

 

Trump’s comments came after he once again claimed that the pharmaceutical industry is “getting away with murder” with high drug prices.

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Donald Trump appoints adviser who helps big pharma hike drug prices

Donald Trump’s new senior economic adviser has helped pharmaceutical companies lobby to charge astronomical prices for crucial drugs.

 

Last Monday, the White House confirmed that Tomas J. Philipson, a health care economist, was joining the President’s Council of Economic Advisors.

 

That announcement was made just hours after Trump publicly accused Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier of charging patients “ripoff prices” for drugs after he resigned from the President’s Manufacturing Council in protest at the president’s response to the violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend.

 

Drugmakers in the U.S. have faced withering criticism in recent times for soaring prices, including by Congress and the president, though he has yet to actually act on his promise to contain them.

 

Perhaps that explains why the official White House statement announcing Philipson’s appointment to the council includes a lengthy list of the universities he’s taught at but no mention of the company he co-founded, Precision Health Economics.

 

PHE describe themselves as a “world-renowned, cutting-edge consultancy firm” that specialises in health policy, economics, and analytics.

 

It all sounds impressive and relatively harmless, but according to a ProPublica investigation earlier this year, the company has been enlisted by pharmaceutical companies to mount relentless public relations campaign touting new treatments and persuading insurers, including U.S. government programs such as Medicare, to cover the costs.

 

Precision Health Economics has boasted at least 25 pharmaceutical and biotech companies as clients, including giants like Amgen, Gilead, and Pfizer. They also, coincidentally enough, have consulted for Merck — whose CEO Trump denounced for gouging prices just this week.

 

The company’s founders, including President Trump’s new economic adviser Tomas Phillipson, recruited an impressive group of high-profile academics to consult for these clients. Some in higher education have expressed concerns that such a tight relationship with industry might suggest bias. “I personally find, when your enterprise relies so substantially on a particular source of funds, you will tend to favor that source”, said Princeton economist Uwe Reinhardt.

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Can We Pin Pharma's Bad Reputation on Trump?

Can We Pin Pharma's Bad Reputation on Trump? | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

The pharma industry’s reputation among patient groups in the U.S. has sunk to a recent low, and some are pointing to the country's leader as the reason.

 

Only 29% of groups recently surveyed by research firm PatientView believe pharma has an “excellent” or “good” corporate reputation, the most negative rating in the U.S. since 2013. That compares with 38% of global patient groups that view pharma positively, according to a new U.S.-only breakout report by PatientView.

 

PatientView founder and CEO Alex Wyke said in an interview that U.S. President Donald Trump may have something to do with the stat.

 

“Trump has changed the whole dynamics in the way pharma companies are viewed, not just in the USA but worldwide. 2016 was notable in that patient groups marked the industry down for many of their activities, but most notable was the ability of companies to adopt fair pricing policies—from the perspective of patient groups," he said via email.

 

Those moves to "price products fairly" only received positive reviews from 7% of U.S. groups. The other area where pharma companies are trying hard, but apparently failing in patients’ eyes, is providing services beyond products, often called "beyond the pill" services. Just 14% of groups rated the industry's efforts as “excellent” or “good.”

 

Further Reading:

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Trump Reportedly Considering New Budget Cuts to "Disembowel" the NIH

Trump Reportedly Considering New Budget Cuts to "Disembowel" the NIH | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

Two months ago, the Trump administration unveiled its so-called “skinny budget,” which envisioned cutting funds for the National Institutes of Health by 18 percent, or $5.8 billion (read “Trump's Budget Would Put NIH & U.S. Medical Research into a Nose Dive!”; http://sco.lt/5qbezp). Scientists were appalled. As my colleague Adrienne LaFrance reported, one doctor said that the cuts “would set off a lost generation in American science.”

 

The bulked-up version of the President’s budget for fiscal year 2018, which will be released next week, may not allay those fears. According to two sources within the NIH who were briefed on the issue, the administration may pursue a new strategy in its quest for cuts, by proposing a 10 percent cap on the NIH’s indirect costs—the money it gives to grantees to support administration, equipment, libraries, IT, lighting, heating, electricity, and other overhead.

 

“It’s going to make every single university president across the country call their representative,” says one of the sources, who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity.

 

It’s not surprising that the administration is considering a cap. In the wake of the skinny budget, Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price defended the cuts by arguing that indirect costs represented “inefficiencies”—money going towards “something other than the research that’s being done.” As Science reported in March, the NIH doled out $6.4 billion in indirect costs in fiscal year 2016, which was 38 percent of the $16.9 billion it spent directly on research. If the 10 percent ceiling had been installed, indirect costs would have been capped at roughly $1.7 billion, representing a saving of $4.7 billion.

 

“Even if you wanted to do this, you don’t do it in one year,” says Harold Varmus, a Nobel laureate and former NIH director. “It would be a tremendous blow for many of our research institutions and ignores the real cost of doing research. If you really want to disembowel a source of learning and ingenuity in America, this is what you do.”

 

“Instead of having an informed process where they get people together and talk about how to build efficiencies, they’re just backing into the numbers that the President put forward,” says one of the sources at the NIH.

 

Further Reading:

  • “Head of NIH Testifies Before Congress in Support of the Next Generation of Research Scientists”; http://sco.lt/6K4Ecr
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Questions Trump Should Ask Biotech CEOs Today

Questions Trump Should Ask Biotech CEOs Today | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

It’s the biotechnology industry’s turn to dazzle Donald Trump — or at least to try — in a meeting at the White House on Monday. Top on the agenda: the hot debate over federal funding for biomedical research.

 

  1. Will Trump ask his guests why they charge so much for drugs?

 

Vertex Pharmaceuticals CEO Dr. Jeffrey Leiden is coming to the event, as per a guest list obtained by Bloomberg. Why do we mention that? Because Vertex’s cystic fibrosis drug Orkambi has a list price of $259,000 a year.

 

Executives from Celgene are slated to attend, too. Their blood cancer drug Revlimid lists at about $130,000 a year (read “Orphan Drugs Are ‘Wicked Hot’ & Profitable for Pharma to Boot!”; http://sco.lt/5f0Fer).

 

Trump, of course, has famously accused drug makers of “getting away with murder.” (He also called the entire industry “disastrous.”) But when he met with key representatives from the biopharma world in late January, he was much more temperate.

 

If Trump does decide to come out swinging, he may find an unexpected ally in the room, in Regeneron CEO Dr. Len Schleifer. He has taken on his fellow CEOs on pricing, accusing them of letting greed darken the reputation of the industry (“Regeneron CEO Len Schleifer vs Pfizer CEO Ian Read on Drug Prices”; http://sco.lt/9CRiEr). Schleifer famously got into a public shouting match with Pfizer’s chief executive at a health care conference last fall as he railed against yearly price increases for old drugs (“Oh Snap! Regeneron CEO Says What to Pfizer CEO Ian Read???”; http://sco.lt/8ZED0T).

 

  1. Will the president of Stanford explain why he needs taxpayers to pay the light bill in his labs?

 

  1. Will Trump’s guests dare to bring up the NIH budget?

 

  1. Will Trump promise miracles?

 

  1. Will the talk turn to cash stashed abroad?

 

At least one of the companies represented at the meeting — Celgene — has a lot of money stashed overseas: $6.1 billion, to be exact.

 

President Trump has talked about giving companies in that situation a big tax break if they bring their wealth back to US shores. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin recently said he’s working with Congress to come up with a “very competitive” plan for repatriating the money. But no details have been released.

 

The industry has promised that a tax break would help them create thousands of American jobs. But last time they got such a tax break, it didn’t pan out that way. Instead, drug makers used the tens of billions they brought back to the US in the mid-2000s to enrich their CEOs and drive up their stock prices. They also laid off thousands of workers.

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A Swarm of Anti-Vaxxers in Washington Meet & Greet Friendly Trump Anti-Vaccine Supporters

A Swarm of Anti-Vaxxers in Washington Meet & Greet Friendly Trump Anti-Vaccine Supporters | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

They’re calling it a “revolution for truth.”

 

Activists who reject the robust science supporting vaccinations are gathering here Friday for a protest and march, capped off by a speech from Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a noted and vociferous vaccine skeptic (read “Trump Picks Vaccine Critic Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to Chair Vaccine Panel”; http://sco.lt/9J3GFt and “Off The Grid: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Says Vaccines are Pay Dirt’ for #Pharma”; http://sco.lt/6smHDt).

 

The demonstrations follow a lobbying push on Thursday, in which activists held 80 meetings on Capitol Hill, many of them with staffers for members of Congress, according to Irene Pi, an organizer from Arizona.

 

“We’re being heard, and we’re going to enact change,” activist Jena Dalpez told STAT, just before she headed to her fourth congressional office of the day.

 

Advocates who reject that research have gained confidence in recent months, buoyed in part by the election of President Trump, who has a long history of raising unsubstantiated doubts about vaccine safety.

 

High on the lobbying agenda: Pushing members of Congress to encourage President Trump to establish a new vaccine safety commission. Kennedy emerged from a meeting with Trump in January saying such a commission would be established, and he’d lead it. That announcement set off alarms among public health experts; Trump’s team soon moved to quiet the frenzy by saying no decisions had been made about the panel. Kennedy later said, however, that he was confident the vaccine safety commission would move forward.

 

The activists organizing the “Revolution for Truth” also want Congress to repeal a Reagan-era law that had the effect of moving lawsuits over vaccine injuries out of the civil courts by setting up a separate compensation system. People can get compensation through that system if they’re able to meet strict requirements in showing a vaccine did, in fact, cause their injury. Activists oppose the system in large part because autism is not on the list of recognized injuries that can sometimes stem from vaccines.

 

Other key goals: Getting Trump to take vaccine safety out of the purview of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And nudging him to issue an executive order banning the government from purchasing vaccines that use the mercury-based preservative thimerosal. That preservative has never been in many key vaccines and was taken out of other childhood vaccines in 2001. Research shows it is not harmful in low doses.

 

Further Reading:

  • “Vaccines Are Path to Better Revenue Growth for Some #Pharma Companies”; http://sco.lt/582wTZ
  • “When Does It Makes Economic Sense for #Pharma Industry to Develop Vaccines vs Drugs?”: http://sco.lt/7adpSb
  • “Want to Avoid Toxins in Your Flu & Other Vaccines? ‘Good Luck,’ Says Cleveland Clinic Wellness Doctor”; http://sco.lt/4gmHXl
  • “CDC’s #VaxWithMe Social Media Campaign has been updated”; http://sco.lt/8bQcuv
  • “Intelligent, High Income People Refuse Vaccinations”; http://sco.lt/67gVs1
  • "Everything You Wanted to Know About Vaccine Marketing, PR, Earned Media, Lobbying, and 'Anti-Vaxxers'"; http://bit.ly/29H0UOL
  • “Discredited Anti-Vaxxer Researcher Is “Very Positive” He Has an Ally in Trump”; http://sco.lt/76R4xF
  • “Better to Keep Vaccine Adverse Event Reports Secret, Concludes Study”; http://sco.lt/4gkjhJ
Pharma Guy's insight:

All the more reason to support the March for Science on April 22, 2017!

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Coalition of Unidentified Health Industry “Stakeholders” Won’t Sit By & Watch Critical NIH-Funded Research Be Stifled – LOL!

Coalition of Unidentified Health Industry “Stakeholders” Won’t Sit By & Watch Critical NIH-Funded Research Be Stifled – LOL! | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

During his budget blueprint announced earlier this month, President Donald Trump announced swingeing (sic) cutbacks across federal programs, with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) set for a $5.8 billion slashing (read “Trump's Budget Would Put NIH & U.S. Medical Research into a Nose Dive!”; http://sco.lt/5qbezp).

 

The blowback for Trump was however immediate, with UsAgainstAlzheimer’s, ASCO, J. Craig Venter, executive chair and founder of biotech Human Longevity, and, more moderately, BIO, all raising their concerns about what the cuts will mean for research.

 

Now, a new coalition has come out of the criticism to help preserve federal funding levels for the NIH, which were around $31 billion last year. Details were thin, but ‘The Coalition to Save NIH Funding’ is said in a release to be made of: “Stakeholders in healthcare, research, pharmaceutical development, patient advocacy and other non-profit organizations.”

 

Exactly who these are have not been made public as yet, with the PR posted by health campaign firm JPA Health Communications. The members will however be the ones to set the agenda and priorities for the Coalition.

 

“While JPA will be coordinating the traditional materials (i.e., position papers, media engagement), our efforts are focused on helping people understand why research is important, why and how patients benefit from it, and why the cuts will be devastating in state and local districts. What develops from basic research touches each and every one of us. We must protect it.”

 

“We were dismayed to learn that the NIH is vulnerable to deep funding cuts,” said Carrie Jones, principal of D.C.-based JPA. “Each day America benefits from the innovation and scientific discoveries made at the NIH. We won't sit idly by and watch critical research be stifled.”

 

Further Reading:

  • “PhRMA Lacks the Guts to ‘Go Boldly’ & Speak Out Against Trump’s Proposed Cuts to NIH Funding”; http://sco.lt/5S7l1l
Pharma Guy's insight:

Who are these bozos? Don't they know that their protest is worthless if they do not identify themselves! More cowards!

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PhRMA Lacks the Guts to “Go Boldly” & Speak Out Against Trump’s Proposed Cuts to NIH Funding

PhRMA Lacks the Guts to “Go Boldly” & Speak Out Against Trump’s Proposed Cuts to NIH Funding | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

The National Institutes of Health is staring down a proposed $6 billion budget cut that could slash funding for biomedical research. The response from the drug industry’s largest lobbying group?

 

Let’s call it tepid.

 

“As we review the president’s budget proposal, we look forward to continuing to work with President Trump and Congress to improve American competitiveness and protect American jobs,” PhRMA spokeswoman Nicole Longo said in a statement. She added that the organization remains “committed to ensuring that policies support innovation and value to deliver this new era of medicines to patients.”

 

Biotech — to the extent it can be surveyed on Twitter — was not impressed.

 

“Those people are truly useless,” opined Michael Gilman, a serial entrepreneur now leading Arrakis Therapeutics.

 

“This is pathetic,” added John LaMattina, former head of R&D at Pfizer. “The new PhRMA head continues to be unimpressive.”

 

“Too bad PhRMA cannot muster the guts necessary to speak out,” tweeted Dr. Samuel Blackman, an oncologist and cancer researcher.

 

PhRMA’s bland response comes in stark contrast to statements from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the American Society of Clinical Oncology, which contained terms like “deeply troubled” and “devastate our nation’s research infrastructure.”

 

Further Reading:

Pharma Guy's insight:

I called PhRMA cowards. They certainly aren't going "boldly" into the dying of the light.

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BMJ Editorial Urges Readers to Stand Up for Science in the Era of Trump

BMJ Editorial Urges Readers to Stand Up for Science in the Era of Trump | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

Any president of the United States is entitled to implement policies that reflect personal ideology and political beliefs. The public may disagree on the merits and drawbacks of these policies, but as long as the supporting arguments are based on facts and comply with constitutional principles then so be it. In its first weeks, however, Donald Trump’s presidency has raised worrying questions about its likely impact on science and health policy. Many of the new administration's pronouncements seem to place little value on facts or analysis. They also seem lacking in careful consideration of the consequences for biomedical research, healthcare, and ultimately the health of people in the US and the rest of the world.

Concerns
We are particularly concerned that Trump’s administration is acting in ways that will suppress research and limit communication on scientific topics that it deems politically inconvenient. All scientific communications from the Environmental Protection Agency may need to be approved by political appointees before being presented or published.

 

Scientists from the Department of Agriculture, the Department of the Interior, and the Department of Health and Human Services (which includes the National Institutes of Health) are restricted in their communications with the public.

 

Scientific information on government websites is being removed and becoming inaccessible. Some agencies are responding through self censorship, cancelling key scientific meetings out of fear of retribution from political appointees.

 

Members of the president’s cabinet, including those responsible for energy and the environment, deny the evidence on climate change without attempting to counter the overwhelming scientific consensus with better or even different information.

 

Proposals to reform the Food and Drug Administration will scale back the agency’s ability to ensure the safety and efficacy of approved drugs, harming not only people in America but those in other countries that often follow the FDA’s lead.

How should science and medicine respond to these challenges? The BMJ’s solution is to reaffirm our commitment to fostering and applying the best evidence for policy and practice, to be an open forum for rigorous debate that challenges the status quo and holds us all to account, to speak truth to power and support others who do the same, and to actively campaign for a better world, based on our values of transparency, independence, and scientific and journalistic integrity.

The Trump administration’s early policies risk head-on collision with the scientific and health communities. The BMJ’s ongoing campaigns for open science and open data, the health effects of climate change, and corruption and conflict of interest in healthcare are some examples of where conflict may occur. At this early stage it seems unlikely that the administration will change its course and promote open discourse, based on respect for scientific evidence and data. But whichever way Trump turns, the scientific and healthcare communities must commit to serving the best interests of patients and the public.

Pharma Guy's insight:

We should not only "Stand Up for Science,'" we should also March for Science, IMHO, on April 22, 2017. More about that here.

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PhRMA Offers Up Marathon Pharmaceuticals as “Sacrificial Lamb” to Trump?

PhRMA Offers Up Marathon Pharmaceuticals as “Sacrificial Lamb” to Trump? | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

The pharmaceutical industry trade group hopes to convince you that it is not all bark and no bite.

 

In response to the outcry over Marathon Pharmaceuticals, which plans to sell a decades-old drug for $89,000 and also maintain a monopoly, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America slammed the company for “actions [that] are not consistent with the mission of our organization.” And the group promised a “comprehensive review” of its membership criteria (read “PhRMA Embarrassed by Marathon is Forced to ‘Review’ Membership Criteria – Is a Purge in the Cards?”; http://sco.lt/5XUvqL).

 

The goal is to “ensure we are focused on representing research-based biopharmaceutical companies who take significant risks to bring new treatments and cures to patients,” according to a statement from the trade group. PhRMA, by the way, has not bothered to publicly post this declaration of intent on its web site, but instead, only distributed it to those who asked for its official views on Marathon.

 

It is not clear what is meant by a comprehensive review, though. A spokeswoman declined to provide further details or describe further steps that may be taken, such as ejecting Marathon from its ranks.

 

In fact, it is not entirely clear what, if anything, might change.

 

One thing is certain: The statement reflects increasing heat on the pharmaceutical industry, which is under escalating attack over the cost of medicines, an issue that President Trump has vowed to address. Although Trump has accused drug makers of “getting away with murder” and otherwise made vague noises about drug prices, he has yet to suggest any concrete steps.

 

Nonetheless, the industry is anxious. Hence, PhRMA lobs this statement.

 

In effect, the trade group is trying to get ahead of the proverbial curve by intimating that Marathon might just become a sacrificial lamb. And the trade group is also hoping to create the impression that its members want to put some heft behind the regular claim that price-gouging drug makers are outliers, a mantra that has been regularly repeated over the past two years.

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Trump Is Turning U.S. Health Agencies Into a “Pharma Swamp”

Trump Is Turning U.S. Health Agencies Into a “Pharma Swamp” | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

President Trump has vilified the pharmaceutical industry and made bold promises to lower prescription drug prices. But when it comes to staffing the health care agencies empowered to oversee those efforts, he has turned regularly to the pharmaceutical industry.

 

His Food and Drug Administration chief, Scott Gottlieb, was a longtime industry investor and adviser to major players like GlaxoSmithKline and Bristol-Myers Squibb. A senior adviser at the Health and Human Services Department, Keagan Lenihan, joined the administration after running the lobby shop for the drug and distribution giant McKesson. Tim Clark, the White House liaison for political personnel at HHS, was still lobbying for pharma company Eisai earlier this year. And Trump has a former Gilead lobbyist, Joe Grogan, reviewing health care regulations at the Office of Management and Budget. The chief of staff at HHS, Lance Leggitt, lobbied for a whole host of drug clients, even last year.

 

This week the president named Alex Azar, who spent more than a decade at the pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly, as his health secretary nominee.

 

It’s a lengthy list that highlights just how reliant Trump is on the industry he has promised time and again to rein in. And his picks stand out when compared with those of previous administrations. In a STAT review of the public biographies of more than five dozen top health officials and advisers across the Obama, Bush and Clinton administrations, only a handful of individuals appear to have joined the administration directly from the private sector.

 

“The trends in pharmaceuticals kind of run in parallel to the trends in the financial sector and Wall Street — you have an industry that Trump ran against pretty aggressively, with pretty strident language in 2016, and he is now seeing those industries as essentially farm clubs. He’s going to bring them up to the major leagues of his administration,” said Jeff Hauser, who runs the Revolving Door Project at the Center for Economic and Policy Research. “It’s unusually stark and unapologetic.”

 

Further Reading:

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Trump Has Not Grasped What’s Needed to Combat Opioid Crisis, Says NYT. Channels Nancy Reagan.

Trump Has Not Grasped What’s Needed to Combat Opioid Crisis, Says NYT. Channels Nancy Reagan. | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

In what was billed as a major speech on Thursday, Mr. Trump demonstrated that he has not grasped what’s needed to combat the opioid problem and, more important, the ways in which his own policies impede recovery for millions of Americans.

 

He declared the opioid epidemic a national public health emergency, which sounds urgent but doesn’t free any significant new money to fight it. In doing so, he ignored the plea of his own opioids commission to declare a full-on national emergency, which would immediately free billions of dollars for emergency response, addiction treatment and efforts to stop the flow of illegal opioids into the country — a comprehensive approach that is so far missing.

 

Combine this with his repeated attempts to gut health care for poor and middle-class Americans, and the president has offered few tangible solutions for a scourge that now kills about 50,000 Americans a year.

 

Mr. Trump said he would address the flow of deadly, illegal synthetic opioids into this country during his coming trip to China, and repeated old promises to stop drug trafficking from Mexico by building the wall.

 

[I predicted that Trump would bring up the issue of Mexico and the wall. Read “Thoughts on Trump Declaring Opioid Epidemic a National Emergency”; http://bit.ly/2ibl4CH]

 

He said the administration would produce “really big, really great advertising” aimed at young people because, “If we can teach young people not to take drugs, it’s really, really easy not to take them.” This is sloganeering reminiscent of the ineffective, Reagan-era “Just Say No” programs, when the ravages of drug abuse in black and Hispanic communities were treated with harsh punishment, rather than the empathy and care that is being called for today.

 

[I predicted that Trump would revive the old “Just Say No” approach. Read “Thoughts on Trump Declaring Opioid Epidemic a National Emergency”; http://bit.ly/2ibl4CH]

 

At least Mr. Trump said on Thursday that the administration planned to roll back a rule preventing Medicaid funding from being used for treatment in large inpatient addiction facilities, a recommendation made by the opioids commission in late July.

But it is still not clear who will lead the response to the epidemic, since Mr. Trump has yet to appoint a number of officials who could do so. He was forced to withdraw his nominee to head the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Representative Tom Marino, Republican of Pennsylvania, after news emerged that Mr. Marino had helped drug wholesalers make it harder for the Drug Enforcement Administration to crack down on black-market opioid distribution. Tom Price, Mr. Trump’s former health and human services secretary, lost his job because of his use of private jets.

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Does Trump's Opioid Crisis National Health Emergency Offer Anything That Hasn't Already Been Implemented?

Does Trump's Opioid Crisis National Health Emergency Offer Anything That Hasn't Already Been Implemented? | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

Prescriber training

 

Trump said he would require prescribers who work for the federal government to “receive, finally, special training” for prescribing opioids. It’s not clear what sort of education campaign Trump is envisioning, but the Obama administration in 2015 also announced a training program in opioid prescribing for prescribers who worked for the federal government.

 

[In the beginning of October, 2017, the FDA sent letters to 74 manufacturers of immediate-release opioids, notifying them that they will have to fund the development of courses for doctors, nurses and pharmacists. For more on that, read “FDA Requiring Makers of Fast-Acting Opioids to Pay for Physician Training”; http://sco.lt/5rVhVR] 

 

Pain treatment

 

Federal health officials are going to launch a task force to come up with best practices for treating pain, Trump announced. This speaks to something that is often lost when discussing the opioid epidemic: There are still lots of patients who need pain medication, and there are some concerns that because of new prescribing limits and the fear of feeding addiction, they are not able to get access to them.

 

Whatever best practices the task force comes up with will likely be scrutinized by advocates both for pain patients who worry about not being able to get medication they feel they need and those who support stronger prescribing limits. (At the event, Trump highlighted CVS Caremark’s recent announcement that it was imposing prescription limits for first-time opioid prescriptions.)

 

[Meanwhile, “Is There a Role for Medical Cannabis in Combating the Opioid Epidemic?”; http://bit.ly/CannabisRole]

 

‘Bad actors’

 

Trump said the federal government will “pretty soon” start suing “bad actors,” including people and companies that are “hurting our people.” He offered no specific details, but dozens of cities, counties, and states have filed lawsuits against drug makers and drug distributors for their alleged roles in seeding the opioid crisis.

 

[Read “Attacking the Root of the Opioid Crisis - Pharmaceutical Companies”; http://bit.ly/2tEHoNT and “Opioid Avenger" Fights Big Pharma - 40 States May Join In Fight Against Opioid Epidemic; http://sco.lt/6fpClt ]

 

Public education

 

Trump said “it’s really, really easy” not to use drugs if you never start — and suggested public education would be an important strategy for the government.

 

["Just Say No!"déjà vu all over again?]

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Right After Trump Blamed High Drug Prices On Campaign Contributions, #Pharma Gave More

Right After Trump Blamed High Drug Prices On Campaign Contributions, #Pharma Gave More | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

“The cost of medicine in this country is outrageous,” President Donald Trump said at a rally in Louisville, Ky., two months after his inauguration. He went on about how identical pills have vastly lower price tags in Europe (read “Trump's Comments Are Big Pharma's Nightmare”; http://sco.lt/8QzAsT).

 

“You know why?” the president asked, before spreading his hands wide. “Campaign contributions, who knows. But somebody is getting very rich.”

 

It was March 20, 2017.

 

The next day, drugmakers donated more money to political campaigns than they had on any other day in 2017 so far, according to a Kaiser Health News analysis of campaign spending in the first half of the year reported in Federal Election Commission filings.

 

This KHN story also ran in HuffPost. It can be republished for free (details).

Eight pharmaceutical political action committees made 134 contributions, spread over 77 politicians, on March 21. They spent $279,400 in all, showering Republicans and Democrats in both legislative bodies with campaign cash, according to FEC filings. The second-highest one-day contribution tally was $203,500, on June 20.

 

  • Further Reading:
  • Public Citizen's Challenge to Trump’s ‘One-In, Two-Out’ Executive Order on Regulations; http://sco.lt/78KV6X
  • “Big Pharma (@PhRMA) Stands Behind Trump Even As He Vows to Lower Prices to Medicare”; http://sco.lt/5461NB
Pharma Guy's insight:

LOL!

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Trump Declares "OK, Maybe [the opioid crisis] Is an Emergency!"

Trump Declares "OK, Maybe [the opioid crisis] Is an Emergency!" | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

Just two days after a top White House official said the United States has the resources it to address the opioid problem without declaring a state of emergency, President Donald Trump now says the deadly opioid epidemic is indeed a national emergency.

 

Trump said he is drafting documents to make the official declaration, which will provide states and federal agencies with more resources and power to combat the epidemic.

 

"The opioid crisis is an emergency, and I am saying, officially, right now, it is an emergency. It's a national emergency. We're going to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money on the opioid crisis,” Trump told reporters at his Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

 

Two days ago, Trump rejected calls from a White House commission to declare the crisis a national emergency. Instead, Tom Price, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, said that the government is already doing work on the recommendations made by the commission without declaring it a national emergency (see “Trump and Health Secretary Price Reject Call for National Emergency to Deal with Opioid Epidemic”; http://sco.lt/5oRPOb).

 

In a statement released yesterday, the White House said that "building upon the recommendations in the interim report from the President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, President Donald J. Trump has instructed his Administration to use all appropriate emergency and other authorities to respond to the crisis caused by the opioid epidemic."

 

A White House commission, chaired by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, issued a report last week in which its top recommendation was for the president to issue an emergency declaration. It will be up to Trump to issue the details of such a declaration and spell out what resources will be made available.

 

It wasn’t clear what had caused the president’s abrupt reversal, but some Democrats had criticized him for not taking the step and said despite campaign promises he was doing little to address the crisis.

 

In a statement yesterday, Christie thanked the president for accepting the commission recommendation.

Pharma Guy's insight:

I think Trump saw my "We will win this by doing nothing." meme and tweet: http://sco.lt/5oRPOb 

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Trump Is Letting Pharma Continue to "Get Away With Murder!"

Trump Is Letting Pharma Continue to "Get Away With Murder!" | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

In the early days of his administration, President Trump did not hesitate to bash the drug industry. But a draft of an executive order on drug prices appears to give the pharmaceutical industry much of what it has asked for — and no guarantee that costs to consumers will drop.

 

The draft, which The New York Times obtained on Tuesday, is light on specifics but clear on philosophy: Easing regulatory hurdles for the drug industry is the best way to get prices down.

 

The proposals identify some issues that have stoked public outrage — such as the high out-of-pocket costs for medicines — but it largely leaves the drug industry unscathed. In fact, the four-page document contains several proposals that have long been championed by the industry, including strengthening drugmakers’ monopoly power overseas and scaling back a federal program that requires pharmaceutical companies to give discounts to hospitals and clinics that serve low-income patients.

 

Mr. Trump has often excoriated the drug industry for high prices, seizing on an issue that stirs the anger of Republicans and Democrats alike. He has accused the industry of “getting away with murder,”[http://sco.lt/6W2Ly5] and said that he wanted to allow the federal government to negotiate directly with drug companies over the price of drugs covered by Medicare (but read “Did Big Pharma Just Convince Trump to Abandon His Push to Let Medicare Negotiate Drug Prices?”; http://sco.lt/8CcWbB).

 

But the proposed order does little to specifically call out the drug industry and instead focuses on rolling back regulations, a favorite target of the administration across many federal agencies.

 

“I do believe that the president wants to do something to lower drug prices for people, but this is a far cry from what he said on the campaign trail,” said David Mitchell, the founder of Patients for Affordable Drugs, a nonprofit that does not take money from the industry. “I don’t see anything there that addresses the drug companies getting away with murder, and it appears that is because Pharma has captured the process.”

 

Several of the proposals appear to reflect that industry influence. For example, the document directs the United States trade representative to conduct a study of price differences between the United States and other countries, and to review trade agreements that may need to be revised “to promote greater intellectual property protection and competition in the global market” (read I”an Read, CEO of Pfizer, aka the ‘Donald Trump of Pharma,’ Bashes Global ‘Freeloading’ Off U.S.”; http://sco.lt/7TRiDZ).

 

The draft order targets a program, 340B, that requires the drug industry to give discounts to hospitals and clinics that serve large numbers of low-income patients. The industry has complained that the program is being abused, while hospitals say they would have to cut services without it.

 

“That’s one that sticks out as a bit of a head scratcher,” said Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, a professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health who was a top F.D.A. official under President Barack Obama. “This is the executive order to lower drug prices — why would you put in a provision that would raise drug prices?”

 

In recent weeks, the industry has shown signs it believes it is getting a fairer shake.

 

In May, Joseph Jimenez, the chief executive of Novartis, told investors that he believed the administration would offer a solution that “will preserve the business model of how we innovate and discover and develop and launch in the U.S., as opposed to some of the bigger and more draconian elements that were discussed earlier,” according to Bloomberg.

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@PhRMA Ousts Marathon #pharma et al to Appease Trump & His Campaign Promises

@PhRMA Ousts Marathon #pharma et al to Appease Trump & His Campaign Promises | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

Confirming yesterday's buzz, PhRMA, the pharmaceutical industry's primary lobbying group, announced changes to its membership structure today that include stricter membership requirements and the elimination of its "associate" category (read “@PhRMA Mulls Limiting Members to Appease Trump Amid Drug Price Scandal”; http://sco.lt/52B8BV). As a result, 22 companies lost their membership or associate membership status. The new requirements, based on a three-year average:

 

At least $200 million per year spent on research

Research expenditures equal to at least 10% of global sales

 

Former members, per PhRMA:

 

  • AMAG Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
  • Horizon Pharma plc
  • Jazz Pharmaceuticals plc
  • Leadiant Biosciences
  • Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals
  • Orexigen Therapeutics, Inc.
  • The Medicines Company

 

Former associate members, per PhRMA:

 

  • ACADIA Pharmaceuticals Inc.
  • Aerie Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
  • Avanir Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
  • BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc.
  • CSL Behring, LLC
  • Esperion Therapeutics, Inc.
  • Ferring Pharmaceuticals Inc.
  • Grifols USA, LLC
  • Ipsen Biopharmaceuticals, Inc.
  • Marathon Pharmaceuticals, LLC
  • Shionogi Inc.
  • Sucampo Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
  • Theravance Biopharma
  • Vifor Pharma
  • VIVUS, Inc.
Pharma Guy's insight:

This is supposed to be “PhRMA's way of trying to get rid of smaller companies that engage in the controversial practice of buying older drugs and jacking up the prices.” But PhRMA knew that some of these companies gouged prices when they accepted them as members (read, for example, “PhRMA Accepts Price Gouging #Pharma Companies Into Its Tent”; http://sco.lt/5a8tNJ and “Big #Pharma Should Secede From PhRMA, Says @John_LaMattina”; http://sco.lt/8UQ2vh).

 

It was only after meeting with Trump that PhRMA got religion and started to reconsider who it should accept as members (read “PhRMA Embarrassed by Marathon is Forced to ‘Review’ Membership Criteria – Is a Purge in the Cards?”; http://sco.lt/5XUvqL and “PhRMA Offers Up Marathon Pharmaceuticals as “Sacrificial Lamb” to Trump?”; http://sco.lt/5uZwMD).

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Biden Bashes Trump's Proposed "Draconian Cuts" to NIH Funding

Biden Bashes Trump's Proposed "Draconian Cuts" to NIH Funding | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

In a speech about finding hope in the war against cancer, former Vice President Joe Biden didn’t mince words about President Trump’s approach to funding biomedical science:

 

“He’s proposing draconian cuts — not only to biomedical research, but also to the entire scientific expertise across the board,” Biden said, speaking at the American Association for Cancer Research’s annual meeting in Washington.

 

This comes in stark contrast with Biden’s speech at South by Southwest festival last month in Austin, in which he was reluctant to criticize the Trump administration. But his tone seems to have shifted in the wake of the president’s new budget blueprint (read “Trump's Budget Would Put NIH & U.S. Medical Research into a Nose Dive!”; http://sco.lt/5qbezp).

 

Biden said the proposed $5.8 billion cut to the National Institutes of Health would be a stunning blow to scientific progress.

 

“This would set the NIH budget, and biomedical research, back 15 years — and that’s not hyperbole,” Biden said. “The chance of getting a grant would almost certainly reach an historic low.”

 

Grants, he pointed out, are funded for multiple years — and as the NIH is already committed to funding existing grants, the massive cuts would interfere with its ability to dole out further funding to researchers. In his speech, Biden cited “one reliable estimate” that up to 90 percent of grants in 2018 would be cut. It would close labs, end careers, and delay scientific breakthroughs, Biden said.

 

“This is no time to undercut progress, for god’s sake,” Biden said. “It’s time to double down — time to be sure we can deliver on the promise of science and technology to extend and improve lives.”

Pharma Guy's insight:

Yes, but keep in mind that Draco's laws came into effect at the dawn of "democracy" in Athens!

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Ian Read, CEO of Pfizer, aka the “Donald Trump of Pharma,” Bashes Global “Freeloading” Off U.S.

Ian Read, CEO of Pfizer, aka the “Donald Trump of Pharma,” Bashes Global “Freeloading” Off U.S. | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

Canada and other countries with universal health care systems are keeping drugs cheap by “freeloading” off of American innovation, says the chief executive of one of the world’s largest pharma companies.

 

“Canada is cheaper because of (drug) ration(ing). And Canada is cheaper because ... it freerides off American innovation,” Pfizer CEO Ian Read said in an appearance at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. last week.

 

Asked what he would do about it, Read suggested negotiating tougher free trade deals that would reduce the ability of governments to pay less for drugs, such as through longer patent terms.

 

“You need good trade agreements where intellectual property is protected,” he said, according to a transcript of the appearance. Read noted Pfizer did not support the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) because it did not do enough to extend pharma patents.

 

Read made an argument familiar to those in the pharma industry: That developing drugs is extremely costly, and U.S. patients and insurance companies are in effect subsidizing cheaper drugs for other countries.

 

“Without the U.S. market, there would not be the tremendous expansion in the innovative therapies that are available today and will be available in the future,” he said. “Basically, you're seeing Europe freeriding on American innovation.”

 

Read cited data from Boston University showing how developing a new drug takes 10 to 15 years and costs US$2.6 billion on average (read “Tufts New Estimate of Costs to Bring a Drug to Market & Beyond”; http://sco.lt/7tlZ9F).

 

“Pfizer spends $8 billion a year on research and development,” he added. “We’re lucky if we produce three (new) drugs a year.” [Meanwhile, Pfizer’s profits are more that 2X what it spends on R&D. See the data here: http://sco.lt/5nPE93].

 

Pharma Guy's insight:

Yikes! These guys are joined at the hip!

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Trump Versus Big Pharma: “Somebody’s Getting Very Rich”; i.e., "Getting Away with Murder"

Trump Versus Big Pharma: “Somebody’s Getting Very Rich”; i.e., "Getting Away with Murder" | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

On Monday night, President Trump rallied a crowd in Louisville, Kentucy by repeating a populist pledge to roll back drug prices. And he added that his administration was working to add pricing legislation to the current healthcare bill, or one coming up “right after.”

 

Once healthcare reform is done and Obamacare has been repealed, he told the crowd, it will be time to get to work on medicine, “bringing down the cost of medicine by having a fair and competitive bidding process. Some people think that’s just as important as healthcare.”

 

“The cost of medicine in this country is outrageous, many times higher than in some countries in Europe and elsewhere. Why?”

 

“Same pill, same manufacturer, identical and it’s many times higher in the United States.”

 

“You know why? Campaign contributions. Who knows. But somebody’s getting very rich.”

 

Further Reading:

Pharma Guy's insight:

First Trump accuses the drug industry of "getting away with murder" (http://sco.lt/6W2Ly5)  then he says "somebody's getting very rich." Sounds like he's describing himself!

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Trump's Budget Would Put NIH & U.S. Medical Research into a Nose Dive!

Trump's Budget Would Put NIH & U.S. Medical Research into a Nose Dive! | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

The National Institutes of Health would absorb an enormous $5.8 billion cut under President Trump’s first budget proposal — equal to about 19 percent of its current $30.3 billion discretionary budget.

The plan “includes a major reorganization” of NIH’s 27 institutes and centers and would eliminate the Fogarty International Center, a $69.1 million program dedicated to building partnerships between health research institutions in the United States and abroad.

With few details available in the budget outline, it is unclear what kind of reorganization the administration envisions at NIH, the crown jewel of U.S. biomedical research. The agency funds research into a vast array of diseases and conditions, including cancer, heart disease, developmental disorders and mental illness.

The agency passes out more than 80 percent of its money to more than 300,000 researchers at universities across the country and abroad. It also has hundreds of researchers conducting studies in labs at its sprawling campus in Bethesda, Md. Its world-renowned clinical center treats patients from around the world seeking last-chance cures and volunteers testing cutting-edge therapies.

Pharma Guy's insight:

This is part and parcel of the current anti-science sentiment and a good reason for pharma people to participate in the April 22 March for Science: http://sco.lt/8TdiaH 

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Anti-Vaxxers Emboldened by Trump’s Embrace of Vaccine-Autism Conspiracy Theory

Anti-Vaxxers Emboldened by Trump’s Embrace of Vaccine-Autism Conspiracy Theory | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

President Trump’s embrace of discredited theories linking vaccines to autism has energized the anti-vaccine movement. Once fringe, the movement is becoming more popular, raising doubts about basic childhood health care among politically and geographically diverse groups.

 

Public health experts warn that this growing movement is threatening one of the most successful medical innovations of modern times. Globally, vaccines prevent the deaths of about 2.5 million children every year, but deadly diseases such as measles and whooping cough still circulate in populations where enough people are unvaccinated.

 

In San Antonio, 80 miles southwest of the state capital, Texans for Vaccine Choice convened a happy hour to encourage attendees to get more involved politically. The event was among dozens of outreach events the group has hosted across the state. The relatively new group has boosted its profile, aided by a savvy social-media strategy, and now leads a contentious fight over vaccines that is gearing up in the current legislative session.

 

A leading conspiracy theorist is Andrew Wakefield, author of the 1998 study that needlessly triggered the first fears. (The medical journal BMJ, in a 2011 review of the debacle, described the paper as “fatally flawed both scientifically and ethically.”) Wakefield’s Twitter handle identifies him as a doctor, but his medical license has been revoked. The British native now lives in Austin, where he is active in the state and national anti-vaccine movement.

 

Trump has met with Wakefield, who attended an inaugural ball and told supporters afterward that he had received “tremendous support” for his efforts and hoped to have more meetings with the president.

 

But now immunization advocates are realizing that they can’t let vaccine critics go unchallenged, saying they need voices other than scientists and experts to make the case. They are recruiting teachers and grass-roots groups to explain how immunization protects families and communities.

Pharma Guy's insight:

Further reading:

  • “Trump Picks Vaccine Critic Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to Chair Vaccine Panel”; http://sco.lt/9J3GFt
  • “Off The Grid: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Says Vaccines are Pay Dirt’ for #Pharma”; http://sco.lt/6smHDt
  • “Vaccines Are Path to Better Revenue Growth for Some #Pharma Companies”; http://sco.lt/582wTZ
  • “When Does It Makes Economic Sense for #Pharma Industry to Develop Vaccines vs Drugs?”: http://sco.lt/7adpSb
  • “Want to Avoid Toxins in Your Flu & Other Vaccines? ‘Good Luck,’ Says Cleveland Clinic Wellness Doctor”; http://sco.lt/4gmHXl
  • “CDC’s #VaxWithMe Social Media Campaign has been updated”; http://sco.lt/8bQcuv
  • “Intelligent, High Income People Refuse Vaccinations”; http://sco.lt/67gVs1
  • "Everything You Wanted to Know About Vaccine Marketing, PR, Earned Media, Lobbying, and 'Anti-Vaxxers'"; http://bit.ly/29H0UOL
  • “Discredited Anti-Vaxxer Researcher Is “Very Positive” He Has an Ally in Trump”; http://sco.lt/76R4xF
  • “Better to Keep Vaccine Adverse Event Reports Secret, Concludes Study”; http://sco.lt/4gkjhJ
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