Sunday October 20, 2019

Novel Drug May Shorten Treatment Duration For Tuberculosis

Despite significant progress in combating tuberculosis, it remains the leading infectious cause of death worldwide, he said

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A new experimental antibiotic for tuberculosis (TB) has been shown to be more effective against TB than Isoniazid, a decades old drug which is currently one of the standard treatment for the disease, finds a study on mice.

The new drug, called AN12855, has several advantages over Isoniazid as Isoniazid requires conversion to its active form by a Mycobacterial enzyme, KatG, in order to kill the pathogen, which creates some problems.

In some M. tuberculosis, KatG is nonfunctional. That does not make M. tuberculosis any less pathogenic, but it prevents the drug from working. Consequently, this creates an easy avenue for the development of drug resistance.

In the study, the new drug showed a much lower tendency to develop resistance, and it remains in the tissues where the Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria reside for longer, killing them more effectively.

WHO will start working towards ending Tuberculosis
Dr. Simon Angelo (L) examines Iman Steven suffering from tuberculosis, held by her mother (R) at the hospital of Doctors Without Borders (MSF), June 15, 2016, at the Protection of Civilians (PoC) site in Malakal, South Sudan. VOA

The goal of TB drug development programmes is to develop universal treatment regimens that will shorten and simplify TB treatment in patients, which typically takes at least six months, and sometimes more than a year, said lead author Gregory T. Robertson, Assistant Professor at the Colorado State University in Fort Collins in the US.

For the study, the researchers used a new TB mouse model that develops these M. tuberculosis-containing granulomas to compare Isoniazid and AN12855.

Granuloma refers to a mass of granulation tissue, typically produced in response to infection, inflammation, or the presence of a foreign substance.

“We discovered that the drugs differed dramatically with respect to their abilities to kill the pathogen in highly diseased tissues,” said Robertson.

Tuberculosis
New TB drug may shorten treatment duration: Study. IANS

AN12855 proved more effective, “without selecting for appreciable drug resistance”, added Robertson in the study published in the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.

Despite significant progress in combating tuberculosis, it remains the leading infectious cause of death worldwide, he said.

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“Multidrug resistance is a further challenge to the mission to control TB globally. Collectively, our group has pioneered the use of new TB mouse efficacy models to help advance innovative new therapies designed to shorten the length of TB treatment.” (IANS)

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Nancy Pelosi Unveils Ambitious Plan to Lower Drug Prices for Seniors on Medicare

Pharmaceutical companies that refuse to negotiate could face steep penalties

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Nancy Pelosi, Plan, Drug
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., arrives for a gathering of the House Democratic Caucus at the Capitol in Washington, Sept. 10, 2019. VOA

Putting her stamp on the health care issue that worries consumers the most, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday unveiled an ambitious plan to lower drug prices for seniors on Medicare and younger people with private insurance.

Pelosi, D-Calif., would empower Medicare to negotiate prices for the 250 costliest drugs, including insulin. Pharmaceutical companies that refuse to negotiate could face steep penalties. Additionally, drugmakers that hike prices beyond inflation would have to pay rebates to Medicare.

The plan would limit copays for seniors covered by Medicare’s “Part D” prescription drug program to $2,000. And Medicare-negotiated prices would be available to other buyers, such as employer health plans.

The plan is Pelosi’s marker in what’s shaping up as a high-stakes negotiation to determine if a drug pricing compromise can pass Congress this year or if Democrats and Republicans will take their differences into the 2020 elections.

Nancy Pelosi, Plan, Drug
Putting her stamp on the health care issue that worries consumers the most, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday unveiled an ambitious plan to lower drug prices. Pixabay

The sweeping legislation leans left politically and appears to be tailor-made for Pelosi’s Democratic majority in the House. But in a signal that Pelosi wants a deal, it also incorporates ideas from the Trump administration and from Republican and Democratic senators.

A solid majority of Americans, regardless of partisan affiliation, says lowering prescription drug costs should be a top priority for Congress this year. Overall, 70 percent deemed that a top priority in a poll earlier this month from the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.

President Donald Trump appears eager to sign prescription drug legislation and lower costs, but most Republicans oppose the Medicare negotiations that are the centerpiece of Pelosi’s plan. The 2003 law that created Medicare’s prescription drug benefit barred the program from negotiating prices, a restriction Democrats have long opposed.

As a candidate, Trump backed Medicare negotiations. But after Trump was elected president, he seemed to revert to the traditional Republican position that price negotiations are best left to private players like insurance companies.

With tens of billions of dollars in profits at stake, drugmakers are determined to block any major changes to payment policies. But the industry’s powerful lobbying group, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, has been taking fire from all sides, from liberal Democrats to pro-business Republicans. Trump once accused drug companies of “getting away with murder.”

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Pelosi’s proposal would:

► Authorize Medicare to negotiate prices for the drugs with the greatest total cost to the program and the U.S. health care system. That includes pharmacy drugs covered through the popular “Part D” prescription benefit, along with “Part B” medications dispensed in doctors’ offices, a category that covers many cancer drugs. The maximum price would be determined using a blend of international prices, an idea similar to a more limited proposal from the Trump administration. Insulin prices would be subject to negotiations. Drug companies that balk at making a deal would face penalties that start at 65% of sales for the drug at issue and would escalate if they hold out.

► Require drugmakers to pay rebates to Medicare if they hike their prices beyond the increase in inflation. That idea resembles a bipartisan plan from Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Ron Wyden, D-Ore. The senators’ proposal has already cleared a key committee, with Trump’s support. But many Senate Republicans oppose inflation rebates, and it’s unclear what Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., plans to do next.

► Limit what seniors pay out of pocket for their medications to $2,000 a year. Currently, Medicare’s pharmacy benefit has no cap on copays, and the advent of drugs costing hundreds of thousands of dollars a year has left some seniors saddled with bills that rival a mortgage payment. An out-of-pocket limit also is part of the Grassley-Wyden bill, and the idea also is backed by the Trump administration.

Nancy Pelosi, Plan, Drug
Pelosi, D-Calif., would empower Medicare to negotiate prices for the 250 costliest drugs, including insulin. Pixabay

Pelosi’s office says her plan is to have the legislation introduced and moved through House committees to a vote on the floor. If compromise can be reached among House Democrats, the Trump White House and lawmakers in the Senate, a drug pricing package could be added to year-end budget legislation.

Movement in Congress comes at a time when criticism of the industry – from Trump and lawmakers of both parties – appears to be having an effect on prices.

The Commerce Department’s inflation index for prescription drug prices has declined in seven of the last eight months, which is highly unusual. That index includes lower-cost generic drugs.

The story is different for brand name drugs, however. A recent analysis by The Associated Press shows that on average prices are still going up but at a slower pace. The cost of brand name drugs is most concerning to consumers, because it translates to steep copays for insured patients.

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The AP analysis found that in the first seven months of 2019, drugmakers raised list prices for brand name medicines by a median, or midpoint, of 5%.

That does reflect a slowdown. Prices were going up 9% or 10% over those months the prior four years.

But there were 37 price increases for every decrease in the first seven months of 2019.

Pricing data for the AP analysis came from the health information firm Elsevier. (VOA)