Walmart proposed to pay $3.1 billion to settle opioid lawsuits

Walmart proposed a $3.1 billion legal settlement on Tuesday over the toll of powerful prescription opioids sold at its pharmacies, becoming the latest major drug industry player to promise major support to state, local and tribal governments still grappling with a crisis in overdose deaths. The retail giant’s announcement follows similar proposals on Nov. 2 from the two largest U.S. pharmacy chains, CVS Health and Walgreen Co., which each said they would pay about $5 billion.

Most of the drugmakers that produced the most opioids and the biggest drug distribution companies have already reached settlements. the settlement dollars — now totaling more than $50 billion. Opioids of all kinds have been linked to more than 500,000 deaths in the U.S. over the past two decades. In recent years, opioid deaths have soared to record levels, around 80,000 a year.

— source | Nov 15, 2022

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Pharma Company Distributed Rs 1,000 Crore Freebies to Prescribe Dolo 650 Mg Tablets

The Supreme Court Thursday, August 18 was told by an NGO that the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has accused the pharma company manufacturing paracetamol drug ‘Dolo’ of distributing Rs 1,000 crore freebies to doctors for prescribing a dosage of its 650 mg tablets.

The petition was filed by the Federation of Medical and Sales Representatives Association of India.

Senior advocate Sanjay Parikh and advocate Aparna Bhat, appearing for the petitioner, told the apex court that the market price of any tablet up to 500 mg is regulated under price control mechanism of the government. However, the price of the drug above 500 mg can be fixed by the pharma company concerned.

Parikh alleged that to ensure a higher profit margin, the company manufacturing Dolo tablets distributed freebies to doctors to prescribe the 650 mg drug. The advocate also said

— source | 18/Aug/2022

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Disparities in United States COVID-19 vaccine distribution

When reports showed COVID-19 vaccination rates were lower among racial/ethnic minority groups, most discussions focused on mistrust and misinformation among these populations or their reduced access to health care facilities. But new research from University of California San Diego and collaborating institutions has identified an additional barrier to equity: whether or not each health care facility actually received and administered vaccines.

In a study published July 28, 2022 in PLOS Medicine, researchers demonstrated that health care facilities serving underrepresented, rural and hardest-hit communities were less likely to administer COVID-19 vaccines in the early phase of the vaccine rollout.

At that time, 61 percent of eligible health care facilities and 76 percent of eligible pharmacies across the U.S. provided COVID-19 vaccinations. When researchers began comparing these rates with the socioeconomic features of the county each facility was located in, several patterns emerged.

Facilities in counties with a high proportion of Black people were less likely to serve as COVID-19 vaccine administration locations compared to facilities in counties with a

— source University of California – San Diego | Jul 28, 2022

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Pandemic Has Been ‘Lucrative Smash-and-Grab’ for Big Pharma

As Moderna reported higher-than-expected revenue driven entirely by sales of its publicly funded Covid-19 vaccine, health equity campaigners on Wednesday renewed calls for pharmaceutical companies to waive patent protections in order to share their lifesaving technology with developing countries.

Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Moderna reported $4.7 billion in second-quarter sales—a 9% increase over the same period last year—despite taking a nearly half-billion-dollar hit for write-downs on expired or soon-to-expire vaccine doses. Nearly all of the company’s revenue came from sales of its Covid-19 vaccine, its only product on the market—and one whose development was funded entirely by U.S. taxpayers and contributions from private donors.

CNBC reports Moderna is also sitting atop an $18 billion cash pile, and intends to buy back $3 billion worth of its own stock. Furthermore, the company last week announced a $1.74 billion agreement with the U.S. government to supply up to 300 million doses of an updated Covid-19 vaccine for use against the omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants.

— source | Brett Wilkins | Aug 3, 2022

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Walmart, CVS and Walgreens Must Pay in Opioid Crisis

a landmark ruling by a federal judge in Ohio that orders U.S. pharmacy chains Walmart, CVS and Walgreens to pay a combined $650 million in damages related to the opioid epidemic. This is the first federal ruling against the pharmacy chains for their roles in the opioid crisis. Other cases have focused on opioid makers and wholesalers that distribute the addictive painkillers. The ruling follows a federal jury’s verdict in November that found the pharmacy chains’ sale of these drugs caused severe harm to communities and violated Ohio’s public nuisance laws. In the lawsuit, Lake County and Trumbull County allege the pharmacies, quote, “abused their position of special trust and responsibility,” unquote, as dispensers of the drugs and, quote, “fostered a black market for prescription opioids.”

I think it’s extraordinary. And I think it’s high time that all the players in this terrible chain of manufacture, prescribing, dispensing, are held responsible for their actions. I mean, I hear what these pharmacy chains are saying, that they bear no responsibility, but they were happy to rake in all of the cash when their outlets were kind of recklessly dispensing these drugs — or at least that’s what the decision of the jury was. And so now it’s time to pay the piper and to use some of this money to repair some of the damage.

— source | Aug 22, 2022

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No evidence that depression is caused by chemical imbalance

After decades of study, there remains no clear evidence that serotonin levels or serotonin activity are responsible for depression, according to a major review of prior research led by UCL scientists.

The new umbrella review — an overview of existing meta-analyses and systematic reviews — published in Molecular Psychiatry, suggests that depression is not likely caused by a chemical imbalance, and calls into question what antidepressants do. Most antidepressants are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which were originally said to work by correcting abnormally low serotonin levels. There is no other accepted pharmacological mechanism by which antidepressants affect the symptoms of depression.

The popularity of the ‘chemical imbalance’ theory of depression has coincided with a huge increase in the use of antidepressants. Prescriptions for antidepressants have risen dramatically since the 1990s, with one in six adults in England and 2% of teenagers now being prescribed an antidepressant in a given year.

Many people take antidepressants because they have been led to believe their depression has a biochemical cause, but this new research suggests this belief is not grounded in evidence.

— source University College London | Jul 20, 2022

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The Agony of an Early Case of Monkeypox

On the evening before Juneteenth, Joseph Osmundson, one of my best friends and a microbiologist at N.Y.U., texted me: “We think Andy has monkeypox.” Two nights earlier, our friend Andy, as I’ll call him, had spent hours hunched over in an emergency room with excruciating rectal pain, only to be refused testing. It was his third try in five days. Andy’s anal sores were internal; for patients to qualify for testing, C.D.C. guidelines required the appearance of lesions on the skin. Osmundson needed help: “We’re trying everyone. Someone anyone who will send a mpx swab to nyc/nys public health department this weekend.”

Monkeypox has been around for more than five decades. It’s from the same genus of viruses as smallpox, and it transmits through close physical contact. The first reported case was in 1970, in a nine-month-old boy in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a place many associate with the words “gorillas,” “jungle,” and “war,” but which I associate with “family,” “comedy,” and “melodrama.” (Kinshasa, the capital, is my mother’s home town and where a huge portion of my family lives.) Monkeypox’s name conjures tales of illness emerging from the jungled heart of darkness to infect the world, but it likely didn’t originate in monkeys. Its natural reservoir is currently unknown, perhaps some species of rodent. (The W.H.O. has said it will rename the virus.) There are currently two strains, or clades: one that is more prevalent in the Congo Basin and another that is more common in West Africa. In these endemic regions, monkeypox kills mostly kids and pregnant women. We don’t know why, but the scientific papers on this are brutal, with descriptions of pox lesions on the placenta and newborn.

In 2003, monkeypox broke out in the U.S., affecting Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Kansas, and Missouri. Forty-seven patients came down with confirmed or probable cases of

— source | Ngofeen Mputubwele | Jul 23, 2022

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Global Access to COVID-19 Vaccines

In fact, it seems like nothing much happened, unfortunately, as you just stated. We were really disappointed in the outcome that was reached. You know, the negotiations for this particular decision have been taking place since May, but for the last 18 months the World Trade Organization has been discussing a proposal by India and South Africa to completely suspend intellectual property rights on the full range of COVID-19 medical tools. And that’s, in fact, not what was discussed at all in Geneva last week. And in fact, a bloc of rich countries in the EU, the United States, U.K. and Switzerland, amongst others, led the charge, in essence, to arrive at this watered-down decision, which, in fact, doesn’t waive any intellectual property rights and, in our opinion, you know, may ultimately cause more damage than good.

we’ve argued that it’s a weak deal because it’s not a waiver. It’s not the waiver that was proposed by South Africa and India. It only deals with vaccines, and it only deals with patents. And, in fact, the entire deal is more about a summary of what you would have to do if you decide to manufacture vaccines and export them. So it deals quite significantly with export rights and who should be opting in and who should be opting out of the deal, doesn’t deal with all the other elements of intellectual property like copyright and trade secrets or the recipes and the knowledge that we actually need to scale up manufacturing. And it doesn’t even deal with treatment and diagnostics in the middle of 2022.

— source | Jun 23, 2022

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No Patents, No Monopolies in a Pandemic

Monopolies are often an obstacle between people and the lifesaving health tools they need. Patents and other exclusivities limit supply and keep prices high. The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented global emergency. Over 100 countries have taken an incredibly strong stance at the World Trade Organization (WTO), proposing to temporarily waive patents, trade secrets and other intellectual property (IP) on all COVID-19 medical tools. This action could dramatically boost global production and supply of lifesaving vaccines, treatments, tests and other health tools – for everyone, everywhere.

— source

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