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Morning Rounds Shraddha Chakradhar

Average price of brand-name drugs more than 18 times higher than generics

A new report on changes in generic drug pricing from AARP’s Public Policy Institute finds that brand-name drugs in 2017 were, on average, more than 18 times the price of their generic counterparts. The average annual cost for a generic drug taken regularly was $365, but the price for the brand-name equivalent was close to $6,800. The report also found that of the 390 generic drugs analyzed, all but three of them underwent a change in pricing. Most saw a decrease in price, while 90 went up in cost, with a common antidepressant called sertraline HCl going up in price by nearly 200%. 

Amazon Alexa is now HIPAA-compliant

In a much-anticipated move, Amazon’s Alexa is now HIPAA-compliant, which means that it can share patient information securely. Amazon said yesterday its Alexa Skills Set, a cloud-based service used to build voice tools, will allow health care companies to build software that can securely transmit private patient information. At the same time, six such voice programs built by large health businesses ranging from Boston Children’s Hospital to the insurance giant Cigna were also launched. The new tools allow patients to use Alexa to access personalized information such as progress updates after surgery, prescription delivery notifications, and the locations of nearby urgent care centers. 

Your sexual partners can change your microbiome, mouse study finds

Scientists are beginning to understand the influence of the gut microbiome on the body’s immune system, but a new mouse study suggests there may be another link in the chain: sexual partners. Mice that received stool from men who had anal intercourse had different microbiomes than mice whose stool donors only had vaginal intercourse. And looking at the mice’s immune systems, researchers found that the mice whose stool donors had anal intercourse also had a higher number of a subtype of T cell — a sign that these mice, had they been human, could be at increased risk for HIV infection.

Although this study does not show a link between the microbiome and HIV transmission in humans, “the data strongly suggests that there could be a link, and provides a strong rationale for doing those studies in humans,” Sam Li, the first author on the paper, tells STAT

Inside STAT: Fining one 'predatory' publisher won't end bad science in journals

Science publishers aren’t supposed to be in the disinformation business — or that’s what a federal judge said late last month when she slapped OMICS International with a $50 million penalty in a suit brought by the FTC. The ruling is a clear win for the honest brokers in scientific publishing, but it’s not the solution to the problem of the more than 900 estimated “predatory” journals that exist. But such journals are symptoms of the fundamental problems in scientific publishing, not the problems themselves. Even legitimate pre-publication peer review doesn’t catch fraud and allows plenty of junk science to enter the literature. “Don’t expect the fundamental problems in science publishing to go away without an effort to address their root causes,” Adam Marcus argues in the latest Watchdogs column for STAT. 

CVS launches same-day prescription delivery nationwide

CVS Pharmacy just announced it’s rolling out same-day delivery for prescription drugs and other products. The company piloted the program in New York in 2017 and expanded it to a handful of other cities last year, but will now offer the service in 6,000 stores across 36 states and Washington, D.C. The new service — which will be provided by delivery company Shipt at a fee of $7.99 — will be offered in addition to a 1-2 day delivery program that the company already has in place in all 10,000 of its stores. Along with eligible prescriptions, customers can also place delivery orders for over-the-counter drugs and home products, including allergy medications and feminine care products. 

Experts say participants in genetic studies should be recontacted if results are reinterpreted 

A working group formed by a leading genetics organization is urging for participants in genetics research to be contacted when new findings suggest the results of their study need to be reinterpreted. The call is among a dozen recommendations issued by working group of the American Society of Human Genetics. The committee says scientists only need to try to recontact previous participants during the research funding period and that scientists needn’t go hunting for changes in genetic information. However, if new findings are expected to change how participants might be medically treated, the working group strongly encourages that researchers make reasonable attempts to get in touch with them. The recommendations were endorsed by eight international genetics organizations.

What to read around the web today

  • Opinion: Overdose prevention sites can help cities like Philadelphia save lives. STAT
  • Memorial Sloan Kettering leaders violated conflict-of-interest rules, report finds. The New York Times
  • The nuclear sins of the Soviet Union live on in Kazakhstan. Nature
  • On the border, volunteer doctors struggle to provide stopgap care to immigrants. Kaiser Health News
  • FDA’s Gottlieb heads back to AEI to tackle drug prices. The Washington Post

Thanks for reading! Have a nice weekend!


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Friday, April 5, 2019


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