The Drop in Drug Spending

Sales of traditional drugs fell for the first time according to Express Scripts’ annual Drug Trend Report. The decline is being attributed to patent expirations, causing a greater use of generic drugs and increased competition. According to the report, the higher cost of specialty medications offset the overall decline. Express Scripts’ report anticipates these trends to continue.

Therapy classes saw an increase in utilization; however, unit costs saw a decrease. Cost increases for diabetes medications drove an increase in spending. Other high-use medications, however, such as those to treat depression saw a decrease in spend despite an increase in utilization. Drugs that treat attention disorders saw an upward trend because of increases in both utilization and drug cost.

Has the pharmaceutical industry seen the beginning of an overall decline in sales? Are there enough new drugs in the pipeline to push conventional drug sales forward? How is your company battling the trend?

Could Wild Gudgeon Be Canaries in a Coal Mine?

Erik Greb PharmTech editor

Concern about pharmaceuticals in our water supply has been in the public consciousness for a few years now. In 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency found traces of various drugs in fish caught in rivers that receive effluent from wastewater-treatment plants. The drugs were believed to come from doses that people had excreted or flushed down the toilet. In response, FDA updated its guidelines for disposing of drugs. New research, however, shows another potential source of drugs in our waterways. Read more »

Weak Pipelines? Don’t Blame FDA.

Erik Greb PharmTech editorFacility rationalizations, outsourcing, and staff reductions can provide only so much of a cushion to pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical manufacturers about to drop off the patent cliff. The ideal way to remain profitable is to discover and develop innovative new drugs, but this task has proven increasingly difficult for drugmakers over the past few years. Jonathan Leff, a managing director at venture-capital firm Warburg Pincus, says that FDA is partly to blame. Read more »

Big Pharma Gets Caught in the WikiLeaks Spotlight

Erik Greb PharmTech editorJournalists continue to comb through the latest batch of diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks, seeking to interpret the mass of raw information. Until now, the cables’ significance has seemed to be limited to political circles. But one cable turns out to contain the 2008 version of the Critical Foreign Dependencies Initiative (CFDI) list, which names international facilities that could be considered crucial for American security. Perhaps not surprisingly, the list cites several pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical facilities. Read more »

Novartis Settlement Provides Hope for Gender Equality

Erik Greb PharmTech editorLast week, the pharmaceutical industry struck a blow against sexism. In May, a US District Court found Novartis (Basel) guilty of gender discrimination. Novartis and the law firm that represented a class of 5600 female employees reached a settlement agreement that became public last Wednesday. The terms of the agreement seem to indicate that the company is making a legitimate effort to treat its employees fairly. Read more »

A Pyrrhic Victory for Sales Reps?

Erik Greb PharmTech editorManagement at Novartis (Basel) may be looking for a pill to combat employee-induced headaches. Not even two months after the company lost a class-action lawsuit that alleged discrimination against female workers, a federal appeals court ruled that the company’s sales representatives are entitled to overtime pay. Read more »

Is an Oxycodone Spill Possible?

Erik Greb PharmTech editorThe calamitous and ongoing Deepwater Horizon oil spill has brought pollution to the center of the public consciousness again. The environmental effects of the petroleum industry’s operations have been the subject of public scrutiny for years. The current spill has understandably focused regulators’ attention on oil pollution, but we should remember that other sectors, including the pharmaceutical industry, can sometimes release pollutants into our waterways, too. Read more »

The US Treasury Shows R&D Scientists Some Love

Erik Greb PharmTech editorResearch and development (R&D) scientists may have been feeling down in the dumps lately. Many of them have lost their jobs in the last few months as a result of mergers and cost-cutting projects. But these sometimes underappreciated workers may soon get more respect, thanks to a US government initiative. Read more »

Water without Side Effects

Erik Greb PharmTech editorWe take for granted that drinking tap water is not going to alter our mood and that eating salmon is not going to throw our hormones out of balance. But trace amounts of pharmaceuticals have been found in drinking water and aquatic life, raising questions about how these chemicals could affect human health. Local and federal governments began to address the issue this year, and a new project by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) could be the basis for future solutions. Read more »

Strutting and Fretting about Healthcare Reform

Erik Greb PharmTech editorAfter much ado, the US House of Representatives passed a healthcare-reform bill this weekend. Drugmakers and commentators are understandably eager to parse the bill to find out what it would mean for the pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical industries. So what’s the verdict? Read more »

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