11 Things We Didn’t Know Last Week

News, discoveries and … fun 1. A flycatcher first glimpsed in 1997 and then collected in 2012 has been confirmed as a new bird species. (Learn more at Futurity) 2. Remarriage is on the rise for Americans ages 55 and older. (Learn more at Pew Research Center) >> Ageless Hollywood Celebs — No Way They’re 70-Plus! 3. A British man lived with a tapeworm moving around in his brain for four years. (Learn more at Mashable) 4. A spoon developed …

FDA Begins New Testing of Generic-Drug Quality

For decades, doctors, drug companies and the Food and Drug Administration have assured us that low-cost prescription generic drugs – which make up an estimated 80 percent of the prescription medicines we take – work just as well as the costlier brand-name drugs they mimic. Except that a growing number of patient complaints, as well as issues over the quality of generics manufactured abroad, have proven that some of them don’t. And it appears the FDA is finally going to …

Supreme Court: Drugmakers’ Pay-for-Delay Deals Can Be Illegal

Deals between brand-name drugmakers and their generic drug competitors that keep cheaper products off the market might illegally prevent competition, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled June 17. In so-called pay-for-delay deals or reverse settlements, a patent holder pays a would-be competitor not to sell a generic version of a drug for a specified period of time. The brand-name manufacturer can continue to charge monopoly prices, and the generic company is compensated for inaction. In Federal Trade Commission v. Actavis, the …

Does a Top Drugmaker’s Playbook Stifle Competition?

If you owned the bestselling prescription drug of all time and its patent was about to expire, how would you prepare for competition from generic drugs? You might look at what Pfizer did when time was running out on its patent for the cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor, which by 2011 had become the all-time bestselling prescription drug of any kind. And you could save yourself some time by reviewing a new AARP Public Policy Institute case study of Pfizer’s approach. The …

Are Brand Name Drugs Driving Up Medicare Spending?

By Ankita Rao, Staff Writer, Kaiser Health News A new study suggests that cash-strapped Medicare missed an opportunity to save more than $1 billion by not addressing the varying costs and use of prescription drugs. “The main issue, and the only way to fix this, is to change what physicians are doing,” said Dr. Walid Gellad, a lead author and internist with the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System and the University of Pittsburgh. Physicians in the VA system follow an approval …

Study: Doctors Give In to Patient Demands for Brand-Name Drugs

By Alvin Tran of Kaiser Health News Doctors are more likely to prescribe brand-name drugs over lower-cost generics when patients request them and when physicians have contacts with drugmakers, a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine Monday shows. The researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston analyzed data from a survey of 1,891 doctors in 2009 and found that 37 percent of  doctors admitted to sometimes prescribing a brand-name drug at a patient’s request even though a generic version of …