Posts Tagged “Israel”

MDMA, Used In Therapy, May Help People Heal From PTSD

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MDMA, Used In Therapy, May Help People Heal From PTSD

The first time Lori Tipton tried MDMA, she was skeptical it would make a difference. “I really was, at the beginning, very nervous,” Tipton remembers. MDMA is the main ingredient in club drugs ecstasy or molly. But Tipton wasn’t taking pills sold on the street to get high at a party. She was trying to treat her post-traumatic stress disorder, with the help of licensed therapists. Tipton was given a dose of pure MDMA. Then she lay down in a quiet room with two specially-trained psychotherapists, one woman and one man. They sat next to Tipton as she recalled some of her deepest traumas, like discovering her mother’s body after a murder-suicide. “In the embrace of MDMA,” as she describes it, Tipton could revisit this moment without the usual terror and panic. “I was able to find such empathy for myself. I realized how much I was thinking this was my fault,” she says.

The synthetic psychoactive chemical MDMA is emerging as a promising — if unconventional — treatment for PTSD. Scientists are testing how pharmaceutical-grade MDMA can be used in combination with psychotherapy to help patients who have a severe form of PTSD that has not responded to…

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The pharmaceutical industry must be a driver of change in the digital era

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The pharmaceutical industry must be a driver of change in the digital era

Over many decades, the pharmaceutical industry has delivered treatments that have improved the lives of billions of people around the world. This is human progress we can be proud of – yet we must not rest on our laurels. The advent of precision medicine and new technologies are going to impact our industry fundamentally. Here are five critical aspects.

1. Precision medicine attracts new competitors

Precision medicine holds great promise for patients. It will put us in a position to much better tailor therapies to individual needs, considering factors such as genetics, lifestyle and environment. But to achieve this, we need reliable data, which luckily is readily available.

Technologies such as genetic sequencing allow us deep insights into biological processes. Moreover, an increasing number of people are using wearable devices that produce a great amount of data on, or relating to, health. The market for this technology is expected to grow at double digit rates over the next several years.

The challenge is to systematically collect this data, make it available and draw insights from it. Cancer research is a case in point. Scientists and clinicians generate massive amounts of biomedical data every day. However, in most cases, this data…

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US probes pharma firms accused of aiding Iraqi militia that killed Americans

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US probes pharma firms accused of aiding Iraqi militia that killed Americans

Michael Chand was working in south-east Iraq as a civilian contractor for American reconstruction efforts when his convoy was attacked in 2007 by forces believed to be loyal to then firebrand Shia cleric Moqtada Al Sadr.

At first, his family were told he was shot and killed. They later learned he was being held hostage at a time when militant attacks on American forces were at their bloodiest.

His body was returned three years later, bearing the hallmarks of torture.

Now his widow is one of the dozens of bereaved relatives who accuse big international pharmaceutical companies of helping bankroll the Mahdi Army in its campaign of violence through kickbacks of medicine and supplies given to the Iraqi ministry of health which was then under Mr Al Sadr’s control.

For Washington, Mr Al Sadr has been the most vocal opponent of the American war. His militias were blamed for deadly attacks on a US-backed political opponent and soldiers, triggering an arrest warrant for murder that was never executed. But in recent years he has moved away from his openly anti-US stance and the position in Washington has softened.

The five pharmaceutical companies deny the allegations but this week it emerged…

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UN experts say Gaza health care at ‘breaking point’

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UN experts say Gaza health care at ‘breaking point’

The United Nations human rights experts have backed calls for a large-scale international response to the overwhelming health care needs of people living in Gaza.

They also remind Israel, as the occupying power, of its obligation to protect the population of Gaza, ensure its welfare and wellbeing, and to allow and facilitate access to health care to people in need. Health care in Gaza has been further impacted by the high rate of casualties from Israeli military fire on Gazan protesters since late March.

“We are deeply worried by credible reports that treating, and caring for, the thousands of Gazans wounded by Israeli military fire over the past 12 weeks has strained Gaza’s already overloaded health care system to the breaking point,” the experts said.

According to the Ministry of Health, almost 8,000 Gazan protesters have been admitted to hospital, with more than 3,900 wounded by live ammunition. Many have sustained permanent injuries, including limb amputations. “It is unacceptable that many of those requiring care, which is not currently available in Gaza, have been denied exit permits to access healthcare outside of Gaza,” the experts added.

Out of the 93 applications submitted by Gazans to the Israeli authorities to access…

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Why We May Lose Generic Drugs

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Why We May Lose Generic Drugs

The mood at the annual generic drug industry confab in Orlando in February was especially somber. The discussion during one panel was all about plunging drug prices, consolidation among drug-buying groups, and the increasingly cutthroat nature of the business. A top executive at Israel-based Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., the No. 1 supplier of generics in the U.S., which is laying off 14,000 employees and shuttering about half its 80 manufacturing plants, tried to lighten the mood with gallows humor: “Teva certainly has no challenges,” said Brendan O’Grady, the executive vice president who heads its North American commercial business. The joke hit the mark, perhaps because it landed so close to home.

The generic drug industry, which supplies almost 9 of 10 drugs prescribed in the U.S., is in crisis. These companies aren’t the superstars making cutting-edge cancer and hepatitis treatments that are priced through the roof. They’re the producers of bread-and-butter pills consumers often take for granted: antibiotics, arthritis treatments, medicines for diabetes and high blood pressure. With the profitability of these prosaic pills fading fast, companies are exiting important parts of the business. “We’re one of the companies that continues to make antibiotics, and we’ve asked ourselves for years why…

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Indian drugmakers need a new prescription

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Indian drugmakers need a new prescription

A SINGLE pill of Abilify, a drug used to treat manic depression, costs $30 or so in America. Or you could try gAbilify (the g stands for “generic”), better known to chemists as Aripiprazole. Thrifty pharmaceutical companies, many of them in India, can provide it for less than $1 a pop since the drug’s patent expired in 2015. That is bad news for Otsuka and Bristol-Myers Squibb, the two labs that formulated Abilify and got it approved by authorities in the 1990s. Everyone else, from patients to insurers to the public purse, is correspondingly better off. Generics-makers have thrived, particularly in India. But the prognosis for the industry is less rosy.

India became the world’s biggest exporter of generics almost by accident. Lax intellectual-property rules in the 1980s allowed its firms to crib drugs patented elsewhere for its huge domestic market. Trade deals gradually opened markets abroad. As patents for a wave of drugs from the 1980s expired two decades later, sales of Indian generics surged.

Their off-brand pills, vaccines, patches and syrups help contain health-care costs in rich countries and supply poor ones with once-unaffordable drugs to combat AIDS and other scourges. Firms like Cipla, Sun Pharmaceutical, Lupin and…

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Pharmacy strikes leave 2.5 million without access to medication

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Pharmacy strikes leave 2.5 million without access to medication

The “Maccabi Pharm” pharmacy chain in Israel held a one-day warning strike Thursday morning, protesting a lack of progress in negotiations between Maccabi Pharm workers and the company management.

The workers are insisting Maccabi’s management improve their work conditions.

According to statistics gathered Thursday morning by the National Workers’ Union (Histadrut Haleumit), 101 pharmacies closed across Israel, with 760 workeres striking.

The strike comes after a work dispute opened two weeks ago.

Meanwhile, the workers’ committee is working to advance the signing of a group agreement with Maccabi’s workers.

Chagit Horen, a member of the Maccabi Workers Committee, said in a statement, “It’s sad to see how Maccabi’s management treats us workers so poorly. We are crumbling under the load, and the management refuses to improve our working conditions. The health fund’s clients are the first ones who will suffer from this, because they won’t have any way to fill prescriptions.”

“We call on Maccabi’s management to return to the negotiating table, in order to ensure the best conditions for the workers. All of Maccabi’s clients will benefit.

Maccabi insures 2.5 million Israelis.

At the same time, workers from the Meuhedet health fund did not answer phone calls from the…

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Australia green-lights medicinal cannabis exports

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The country’s first medical marijuana farm received its growers’ licence in March last year and others have followed, with the government seeing a big future for the industry.

“This is actually a very important step for our domestic patients and our domestic supply,” Health Minister Greg Hunt told broadcaster ABC.

“By knowing they have an Australian market and an international market, that improves the likelihood of growing and production in Australia.”

He added that Australia was keen to become “the world’s number one medicinal cannabis supplier”, but that a condition of any export licence was that local patients were taken care of first.

“We want a robust Australian medicinal cannabis industry so that doctors have safe, quality domestic products that they can confidently prescribe to their patients,” said Hunt.

While recreational use of cannabis remains illegal in Australia, federal laws were changed in 2016 to allow its use for medical purposes, in a broadly supported move.

Research, including findings published in 2015 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, showed marijuana has some effectiveness in helping treat chronic pain.

But there are concerns about side effects and the issue of whether or not it works remains a matter of…

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Half Of Patients With Super-High Cholesterol Can’t Get Drugs That Could Help

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When a new class of cholesterol-lowering medications called PCSK9 inhibitors hit the market in 2015, they were instantly controversial because of their price. Amgen’s version, called Repatha, and a rival drug from Regeneron and Sanofi, Praluent, sell on average for $14,300 a year.  Still, the drugs can help patients who cannot lower their cholesterol with traditional statins and therefore face a high risk of developing heart disease.

Yet 53% of those patients were unable to get insurance coverage for PCSK9 inhibitors in the year ended in August 2016, according to a study published today in the journal Circulation. Of the people who were turned down for the drugs, 57% already had a history of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, or the dangerous buildup of plaque in the arteries.

The problem, of course, is the price. PCSK9 inhibitors are far more expensive than statins like Pfizer’s once-blockbuster Lipitor (atorvastatin), which went generic long ago and sells for pennies a pill. Patients who are prescribed PCSK9 inhibitors must get prior authorization from their insurance companies before they fill those prescriptions—a tough hurdle at a time when high drug prices still dominate the national conversation on health care.

The study investigators discovered that the biggest…

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Digital Drug Features Built-In Sensor To Ensure Patients Take Medication

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As CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez reported, the pill is being hailed as a way to make sure patients take their medication. But it is also raising some privacy concerns.

“After giving birth to my third child, I had a nervous breakdown,” said bipolar patient Donna Israel.

It took a while, but eventually, Israel was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Medications helped, but made her so tired that she could not take care of her children.

So she chose “taking care of my children or taking meds — so I would opt to take care of my children and what would happen – I would relapse and go right back in the hospital,” Israel said.

It is a common problem in medicine – a patient failing to adhere to a prescribed drug program.

“As a physician, sometimes I’m not sure whether my patient has taken his or her medicine or not, and I might make an erroneous decision on that basis,” said Dr. John Kane, a psychiatrist at the Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine.

That is what the new digital pill is meant to address. It is called Abilify MyCite, and believe it or not, the small pill has an embedded sensor…

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