Leavitt avoids charges of contempt of Congress
WASHINGTON Department of Health and Human Services secretary Michael Leavitt is working with the House Energy and Commerce Committee in order to avoid being charged with contempt.
In January, the committee requested a briefing book and related notes used to help Food and Drug Administration commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach prepare for a 2007 hearing on whether Sanofi-Aventis’ Ketek (telithromycin) was approved by the FDA based on fraudulent data. Leavitt refused to provide the material at the time.
Once the committee sent him a letter threatening a contempt charge, the HHS secretary responded with an offer to allow them to view certain documents, but only at HHS facilities. The committee then voiced the concern that it would need to also copy some of the documents.
Currently, Leavitt and the committee are working toward a mutually agreeable solution, but a spokeswoman for the committee has said that a contempt charge is unlike at this point, according to FDA reports.
CDC study finds 1-in-4 teen girls has an STD; recommends screening, vaccination, education
CHICAGO An alarming number of teenage girls has a sexually transmitted disease, according to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: slightly more than one-quarter.
The overall rate of STDs among the 838 girls in the study was 26 percent, translating to more than 3 million nationwide, the Associated Press reported.
About half of the girls surveyed admitted to having sex—though their definitions of what that consisted of varied—and among those, the number with an STD climbed to 40 percent.
The new study, by CDC researcher Sara Forhan, actually relied on slightly older data from nationally representative records on girls ages 14 to 19 who participated in a 2003-04 government health survey. The director of the CDC’s division of STD prevention, John Douglas, has stated that the data still likely reflect current prevalence rates.
The teens were tested for human papillomavirus, chlamydia, trichomoniasis and genital herpes. HPV prevalence was significantly higher than the others, accounting for 18 percent of the STD cases, with the others all reporting a rate below 5 percent.
Many doctors feel that the prevalence of STDs is due, in part, to the government’s abstinence-only policy in sex education. Teens, they say, are simply not getting the information that would enable them to protect against these diseases.
The CDC recommends that teens get routinely screened and educated about prevention. Kevin Fenton, the CDC’s Director for the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention said given the dangers of some STDs, “screening, vaccination and other prevention strategies for sexually active women are among our highest public health priorities.”
U.S. prescription sales grew modestly to $286.5 billion in 2007
NORWALK, Conn. IMS Health today released its annual U.S. Pharmaceutical Market Performance Review, reporting that overall sales growth in the U.S. prescription market moderated to 3.8 percent in 2007, compared with growth of more than 8 percent in 2006.
Total U.S. prescription sales reached $286.5 billion, with slower sales growth resulting from loss of exclusivity of branded medicines, fewer new product approvals, the leveling of year-over-year growth from the Medicare Part D program and the impact of safety issues, IMS Health reported. The 2006 growth was an anomaly, in other words, due to the implementation of Medicare Part D, but 2007’s slowing growth rate is a continued trend that began in 2001, according to the report
Compared with a 4.6 percent growth in 2006, total U.S. dispensed prescription volume grew at a 2.8 percent pace. The top five therapeutic categories—antidepressants, lipid regulators, codeine & combination pain medications, ace inhibitors and beta blockers—continued to lead the market in terms of prescription utilization.
“In 2007, the U.S. pharmaceutical market experienced its lowest growth rate since 1961,” said IMS’s Murray Aitken, senior vice president of Healthcare Insight. “Last year, we saw a continuing shift away from primary care classes to biotech and specialist-driven therapies, which grew at a 9 percent and 10 percent pace, respectively. Among the leading therapy classes, oncology drugs continued their rapid growth, at 14 percent—the result of innovative new medicines, expanded indications and accelerated uptake of products to fill unmet needs.”
Sales of lipid regulators declined by 15.4 percent year-over-year, though continued to represent the largest therapy class in the nation, with prescription sales of $18.4 billion. Proton pump inhibitors ranked second, with prescription sales of $14.1 billion and growth of 2.8 percent. Antipsychotics replaced antidepressants as the third-largest therapeutic class in 2007, with prescription sales growth of 12.1 percent to $13.1 billion.
The IMS report forecasts compound annual pharmaceutical sales growth through 2012 of 3 percent to 6 percent, based on predicted loss of exclusivity in major therapy areas, new specialist-driven products, greater levels of therapeutic substitution, and greater awareness and focus on safety issues.
“We will see additional lower-cost treatment options for many patients, while new and innovative therapies are delivered to specific patient groups, such as those suffering with cancer. Safety issues will be closely monitored and are likely to bring added caution to the market over the next several years,” said Aitken.