PHARMACY

FTC seeks law against ‘pay-for-delay’ deals

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON The chairman of the Federal Trade Commission and several members of Congress are calling for a law against deals that delay the launch of generic drugs onto the market.

FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz and Reps. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., Bobby Rush, D-Ill., and Mary Jo Kilroy, D-Ohio, want to end so-called “pay-for-delay” deals, whereby branded drug companies pay generic drug companies in return for delaying the release of a generic drug.

“Pay-for-delay deals are a bad prescription for America: When drug companies agree not to compete, consumers lose,” Leibowitz said at a press conference. “Ending this practice as part of healthcare reform is one simple, effective and straightforward way for Congress to help control drug costs.”

According to a study by the FTC, the deals cost consumers an estimated $3.5 billion per year, while deals that involve payments by branded drug companies keep generics off the market for an average of 17 months longer than agreements that don’t include payments.

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Study: Some African-American diabetics at risk of developing retinal disease

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK African-American diabetics who consume large amounts of calories and sodium risk developing more severe retinal disease than those who don’t, according to a study published in the January issue of Archives of Ophthalmology.

Researchers at the New York University College of Dentistry and the New Jersey Medical School at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey examined 469 African-American patients with Type 1 diabetes who enrolled in the study between 1993 and 1998, administering eye exams, blood tests and a diet questionnaire after a six-year follow-up.

Those with the highest caloric intake at the beginning of the study were more likely to develop retinopathy leading to vision loss by the end of the six-year period, while those with high sodium intake had the highest risk of developing macular edema.

“In African American patients with Type 1 diabetes, high caloric and sodium intakes are significant and independent risk factors for progression to severe forms of diabetic retinopathy,” the authors wrote. “These results suggest that low caloric and sodium intakes in African American individuals with Type 1 diabetes mellitus may have a beneficial effect on the progression of diabetic retinopathy and thus might be part of dietary recommendations for this population.”

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Google.org to expand Google Flu Trends tracking

BY Michael Johnsen

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. Google.org on Tuesday announced on its blog site that it is expanding its Google Flu Trends tracking capabilities from the macro to the micro.

“We’ve been chatting with public health officials about new ways we can help people understand the spread of flu during this unusual time and today we’re excited to bring city level flu estimates to 121 cities in the United States,” the company wrote in its blog.

The city level estimates are “experimental,” the company cautioned, meaning they haven’t been validated against official data. However, the estimates are made in a similar manner to its U.S. national estimates, which have been validated.

In contrast to the unusually early spike of flu activity this October, Google Flu Trends is currently showing a low level of activity in the United States.

Google Flu Trends helps estimate flu trends in real time by tracking the popularity of certain Google search queries.

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