Hep C News: Black Box Warning For Opioid Prescriptions; Hillary Clinton Damages Biotechs

FDA Issues Black Box Warning For Prescription Opioids

The FDA has announced it is requiring new “black box” safety warnings for immediate-release opioid painkillers, putting more “control,” into controlled substance. The move is intended to help stem the tide of a wave of accidental deaths due to overdose of these opioids. According to the FDA, these drugs present risk of “misuse, abuse, addiction, overdose, and death.” Among the affected medications are morphine, hydrocodone and oxycodone. The new labeling is meant to alert physicians to the risk-against-benefit associated with prescribing these drugs. The hope is that doctors will seriously weigh these risks. Prescription opioids should be reserved for patients experiencing pain that cannot be otherwise managed. The implication is that physicians are over-prescribing these drugs, but the result may be an over-abundance of caution – refusal to prescribe these essential painkillers for those who need them. There is evidence that abusing opioids – snorting or injecting them – can lead to experimentation with heroin, (also snorted or injected), now epidemic in the US. The unprecedented rise in injection drug use has spawned another epidemic: infection with HIV, HBV, and hepatitis C. People turn to heroin when their prescriptions for opioids run out, or the supply of street drugs runs dry. Some try heroin for financial reasons. Prescription “oxy” drugs can cost hundreds of dollars on the street. A single dose of heroin can be obtained for as little as $10. Gone are the shady dealers hanging out on street corners. Heroin is now delivered by car, into the suburbs.

Hillary Clinton Damaged NASDAQ Biotechs In Fall 2015

Last September, Hillary Clinton crushed the value of biomedical stocks, including Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ: GILD), maker of Harvoni, a breakthrough hepatitis C drug. The decline in biomedicals demonstrates the power of a comment by a political figure. On Twitter, the former Secretary Of State and 2016 presidential candidate said she would reform healthcare, and attempt to end what she referred to as “excessive profiteering,” after Turing Pharmaceuticals boosted its price of Daraprim, an ancillary cancer drug. Turing increased the price of Daraprim from $13.50 to $750 per pill. The former First Lady then took aim at Gilead – although she didn’t mention the company by name, her target was clear. She did mention how a certain blockbuster drug was available at far cheaper prices in international markets, namely, Egypt, where HCV infection is rampant. Gilead was embroiled in controversy after the Fair Pricing Coalition and other interests failed in their attempts to secure deep discounts for public insurances. When Clinton was done, NASDAQ’s biomedical sector lost an astonishing 20% of its value, which begs the larger question, should politicians risk cutting into market profits? Hillary Clinton damaged biotechs with a couple of tweets. Some would say they had it coming, that the market was full of inflated assets. Others maintain no one has the right to interfere with good old American profit-taking. From an advocacy standpoint, the message is clear: price-gougers beware.

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