The Catalyst

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Once again, AARP has released a report on the prices of medicines that distorts the reality of the marketplace. This time around, AARP took its same market basket of medicines it has used since 2006 and analyzed solely the prices for brand name drugs, excluding generics entirely.

03.28.11 | By Kate Connors

Recently, there has been a spate of misleading media coverage about interactions between biopharmaceutical company representatives and healthcare providers.

In various ways, the bulk of this coverage has depicted these relationships in a negative light, one that is both biased and outdated.

I'd like to take a moment here to explain the value of engagement between companies and give a second opinion, so to speak.


I won't even try to compete with Kate's masterful Friday wrap-up piece. But, stepping in this afternoon because Kate is off somewhere "working" (a likely story) on something that has to be done today, here are a couple of things I saw in the media over the last couple of days that caught my eye and that I wanted to share.

03.25.11 | By Kate Connors

On The Catalyst, Grady and I write often, and generally, about the researchers - be they government-funded, academic, or with biopharmaceutical companies - that create America's collaborative research ecosystem. Today, we get to know one a little bit better.

This Wednesday, the PhRMA Foundation announced the recipient of its Award in Excellent in Pharmacology/Toxicology, naming University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine professor Bryan L. Roth, PhD.


Angie Drakulich over at PharmTech had a nice blog post yesterday where, among other things, she mentioned the great work the Rx Response coalition has done in helping U.S. government response to the crisis in Japan.

03.24.11 | By Bob Pearson

Each year, interactive leaders make a point of attending SXSW in Austin. This year, more than 19,000 people attended, including an increasing number of people who work in the healthcare industry. The first-ever health track was marked by overflowing meeting rooms for virtually every session. As usual, we listened closely to what was being said in the meeting rooms and on the sidewalks of Austin. Here's what we found of interest.

03.24.11 | By Kate Connors

This month marks the one-year anniversary of the passage of the historic health care reform law. Providing every American access to high quality, affordable health care is something the law tries to do very well, but patient, provider and other organizations, including PhRMA have made clear their concern with a provision in the law allowing an unelected board to effectively unilaterally impose spending cuts in the Medicare program.

03.23.11 | By Kate Connors

I'm about to date myself.

Watching the coverage of Elizabeth Taylor's passing, I am struck by the fact that I have seen very few films in which she appeared. I think I can count two.

However, I still consider her to be incredibly influential. Why? I would guess that to most people in my generation, she wasn't famous for being an actress - she was famous for being an HIV/AIDS advocate.


The Washington Post's health supplement has a good series of articles about the growing health problems caused by childhood obesity.

03.22.11 | By Kate Connors

On Friday, The Hill's Congress Blog ran a column by PhRMA's President and CEO, John Castellani, in which he argues about America's global leadership in medical innovation that "the time for a national policy of support is now."


Our last blog post looked at the big picture of the value of cancer treatment advances.

Let's now look at the value medicines bring in treating other conditions. In the 1990s, an HIV/AIDS diagnosis was considered a death sentence. Today, it's a treatable chronic disease. The number of U.S. AIDS deaths has decreased dramatically following the introduction of highly active antitretroviral treatments and have continued to decline.


This is another one of those "connect the dots" posts. There's good news out of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they're reporting that U.S. death rates have fallen for the 10th year in a row. Average life expectancy in the U.S. at birth is now 78.2 years and up from 78 years since 2008.


In recent years, the United States has seen significant progress in the fight against cancer. In 2008, the American Cancer Society reported for the first time a decline in the number of deaths from all cancers - in both men and women.

Medicines are a key factor contributing to the advances in cancer treatment. Since 1980, life expectancy for cancer patients has increased about three years - and 83% of those gains are attributable to new treatments, including medicines.

03.18.11 | By Kate Connors

We've written repeatedly on The Catalyst in about the importance of adherence to medicines for improved health and, ultimately, healthcare services.

An analysis by Harvard Medical School and sponsored by PhRMA helps to drive home that point.


Last week, FDA announced a new campaign to address poor adherence to medicines. The agency will provide grant funding to the National Consumers League to support efforts to raise awareness of the importance of medication adherence and effect change in behaviors to increase adherence and improve health outcomes.


PhRMA President & CEO John Castellani was one of the invited speakers today at a symposium of global health challenges hosted by the U.S. State Department.

John spoke about what America's biopharmaceutical research companies are doing to help in the fight against disease that most affect patients in the developing world and especially neglected tropical diseases.


I encourage everyone to take a look at the interview with PhRMA president and CEO John Castellani about PhRMA's agenda now featured in PharmaExec magazine.

03.16.11 | By Kate Connors

There was no way I was going to let Grady write this post.

The National Association for Female Executives just came out with its list of the top 50 companies for executive women, and eight of PhRMA's member companies were on the list. That deserves a good amount of pride.

According to NAFE, they named organizations that recognize the benefits "to be reaped by capitalizing on what women bring to the table."


Yesterday, we wrote about GAO's report on drug prices - and similar research conducted by economists from MIT and IMS health. In both cases, the research took into account a mix of both brand-name and generic dugs when calculating drug prices - which reflects the way the market works.

Now, let's take a look at overall spending trends for prescription medicines. Government data tell us that the spending growth rate for medicines has declined considerably in recent years, reaching historic lows.

03.16.11 | By Kate Connors

As the distinguished panel assembled by Research!America made clear in yesterday's National Press Club event, the economic future for the U.S. is brightest when domestic research and development flourishes.

The biotech start-ups of yesterday are the emerging biopharmaceutical research companies of today that are responsible for a growing number of new medical advances.

But who are these companies?