Posts Tagged ‘pharma’


Top alerting services for monitoring drug developments and other things

In Eresources,How to work better,Information industry on October 5, 2010 by Hanna Tagged: , , , ,

We had a discussion at work recently about how we should keep up to date with drug topics we monitor. We do this to see what is happening with licensing in this country and/or in the US/Europe and then we might also be tracking disease areas also for other types of work. So what to use? We previously gave the drug topic monitoring job to one person in the team who would scan choice journals and send photocopies of the results but these were often out of date and this is an onerous job for one person remembering perhaps 10s or 100s of topic indications. We narrowed down the following to some essentials and others as optional but I would be interested to know what sources other people use.

  1. NeLM or National Electronic Library of Medicine. A “‘one stop’ platform from which users can easily find medicines information that matters in a simple and coherent manner”. Daily email alert delivered as headlines and often includes commentary and links to original sources. Pretty much our gold standard. Takes info from a range of sources: UK medicines information (UKMi), National Prescribing Centre and Medicines Compendium online to name but a few.
  2. PharmaTimes. This is on our core list as well although I have to admit I don’t use it, I think there was something weird about their sign up and it didn’t want to sign me up argh. We purchase some similar titles and this is all about e-TOCs.
  3. New drugs online. Produced by UKMi and ingested by NHS Evidence as well, NHS registered people can access more info than publically accessible too. Excellent for news and reporting of trials/regulatory stuff for new drugs. Example for lorcaserin for obesity.
  4. Medical News Today. US based although however news is captured it is truely worldwide. Sources include “JAMA, BMJ, Lancet, BMA, plus articles written by our own team”. Categorised into sections covering major disease areas these daily alerts are very comprehensive.
  5. US again but good for FDA alerts that may influence European/National decisions. Probably more generalist/consumer level information
  6. Pharmalot. Blog from which you can receive alerts along the lines of investigative journalism and debate about pharmaceutical companies and drug development in general. Or “commentary on the pharmaceutical industry and related litigation.” The backstory of what makes the news later e.g. rosiglitazone.
  7. And other things: NHS Institute alerts (mainly implementation and while we’re on that see Implementation Science journal), the CASH database which aimed to be the national current awareness service although is reportedly biased towards whoever is updating it weekly and more traditional alerts from saved searches and e-TOCs galore.

How you manage these is up to you. I can’t help but scan them almost daily but do searches of the folder I bung them in in my inbox on a monthly basis…


The drugs don’t work

In Evidence-Based Medicine,Health industry on December 15, 2009 by Hanna Tagged: ,

The BMJ have a series of articles about neuraminidase inhibitors or Tamiflu and Relenza or panic-purchased anti-virals. For in at risk groups they reduce the duration of symptoms by between 0.5 and 2 days as opposed to between 0.5 and 1.5 days for healthy adults (not that much difference in my opinion). And yet this HTA assessment does distinguish between groups and says they are cost effective. NICE guidance recommended these drugs as options and ‘said that its recommendations about oseltamivir and zanamivir should not reduce efforts to give vaccination (also called the flu jab) to people for whom it is recommended in national guidelines’ so the government hand that feeds is not bitten.

Antidepressents have also come under fire although here it is less about political action before evidence and more the increasing effectiveness of the placebo. Recently the UK Government’s Science and Technology committee evidence check on homeopathy discussed the placebo effect and the ethics of giving placebo as a medicine…


An (unholy?) alliance between charities and pharma

In Health industry on May 21, 2009 by Alan Lovell Tagged: , , , , , , ,

If you’re like me you would have grown up naively believing that medical charities and patients groups are basically the good guys. They can be trusted to speak clearly and with authority because they represent the best interests of the patients and are not influenced by such grubby considerations as turning a profit, increasing market share, or anything of that ilk. You would have been rather worried when you found out that drug companies often sponsor charities (e.g. here), using such influence to help them get their products adopted, but you tried to retain faith in the notion of the good guys. Now, however, it appears to have come full circle and charities are sponsoring drug companies. The FT reports that:

A British cancer charity is to fund clinical trials of a drug owned by GlaxoSmithKline in a pioneering programme to develop promising experimental medicines that are neglected because of limited corporate funding. Cancer Research Technology, the commercial arm of Cancer Research UK, will shortly begin tests in patients of GSK’s 1070916A, and retain a share of the profits if the drug is successfully launched.

Yes, that’s right, “retain a share of the profits”. Just because they’re a patient group or a medical charity doesn’t mean they have any more moral authority than anyone else. There is no particular reason why they can’t comment on proposed guidance or breaking news stories etc., but as with any other individual or group they have to make clear what their conflicts of interests are.

*Sigh.* Was it easier in the old days? Were the good guys gooder then, and the bad guys badder? As in the words of Mr Adams, “In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were REAL men, women were REAL women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were REAL small furry creatures from Aplha Centauri.”


If war is too important to be left to the generals…

In Health industry on November 26, 2008 by Alan Lovell Tagged: ,

You have heard that war is too important to be left to the generals; likewise, drug development is too important to be left to the drug companies“. Discuss…

I rather like that. Snappy. Poor old pharma though. They must feel like a punch bag. One often hears the argument that because drugs are so important then pharma should be in public hands. While I’m not a big fan some of the excesses of drug marketing and their constant spin spin spinning, not to mention the creation of conditions to fit drugs rather than the other way around, the idea of having the pharmaceutical industry back in the public sector makes me shudder…! British Leyland all over again.


Ivy League and Pharma collusion. Allegedly…

In Health industry,Information industry on October 24, 2008 by Alan Lovell Tagged: , , , ,

In case anybody has been following the case of the missing journal recently, the Harvard Health Policy Review website is now back online and you can read about why it went offline – apparently no pressure was applied by any party, which sounds a little unlikely, but then what do I know? It’s all been great fun. Basically the HHPR published an article entitled “Ethical Standards for Healthcare Journal Editors: A Case Report and Recommendations” that made serious accusations of malpractice against the editors of the Journal of Health Economics – what makes it all the more interesting is the presence of drug money and collusion between pharma and Ivy League academics – the Health Care Blog covered it here. There are some serious accusations involved, and if any of the mud sticks it’s rather worrying.


NICE wins plaudits in the US; still hated here

In Uncategorized on August 20, 2008 by Alan Lovell Tagged: , ,

The Health Care Blog reports on a recent talk given by Andrew Dillon, the head of NICE, to a bunch of high-powered folks from, amongst other places, California Dept of Managed Health Care, Kaiser Permanente, Mercer etc. Apparently, with a wonderful turn of phrase, “NICE is only well known in the US as being the agency that stops new wonderful treatments getting to blighted Brits who are instead left to die in the streets.” It’s a refreshingly balanced view about NICE that perhaps only an outsider (to the UK) could provide. It points out that, contrary to what you may believe from reading the Daily Mail, most recommendations are positive (72%), and very few wholly negative (3%). The remaining 25% have been positive AND negative, in that some uses of the drug or device have been approved but not all the ones that it was marketed for.

There is much good that can be said about NICE, but their budget is about to triple from £32m to £100m per year, and that is an awful lot of money. While the review might argue that “The Brits realize that the NHS has to do what it can with what it’s got, and that in order for everyone to be covered, everyone has to chip in” I do wonder if public support for NICE and the whole concept of cost-effectiveness as it currently stands for NICE decision makers will last in the UK. Legal challenges seem to occur frequently, and public support is on the wane. As one comment on a recent news story about NICE’s decision on new drugs for Alzheimer’s: “I wonder, how many Alzheimers sufferers could be treated if NICE were scrapped?”


Pharma accused over ghostwriters

In Health industry on April 16, 2008 by Alan Lovell Tagged: , , ,

An article today reveals (or perhaps “accuses”) just how much pharma companies use ghostwriters to influence the interpretation and publication of medical research. Merck & Co (poor old Merck & Co, why do they always get it in the neck? Well, OK, maybe Vioxx has something to do with it…) have been accused of frequently using paid academics to take the credit for, and authorship of, research articles that have been written by the pharma company’s medical writers

Dr. Catherine DeAngelis, JAMA’s editor-in-chief, said “The manipulation is disgusting. I just didn’t realize the extent”. She admitted that doctors, medical researchers and journal editors bear some responsibility for those harms and that “…we’re the ones who have allowed this to happen. Now we’ve got to make it stop.”