Merck is expected to receive FDA approval to market its novel Isentress HIV drug as early as today, the Associated Press reminds us. An FDA panel recently recommended approval, although AIDS activists are protesting what they fear will be a high price. Like most HIV therapies approved in recent years, Isentress will serve as a second-line therapy for patients who have stopped responding to older, more established drugs, which could prevent Isentress from becoming a blockbuster.
Most docs rely on patients to give them an accurate account of what drugs they are taking, but a new study suggests many patients get it wrong, Reuters writes. About 40 percent of 119 patients taking blood pressure medication in three community health centers couldn't accurately recall what drugs they were taking. That number jumped to 60 percent for those with low health literacy, a measure of their ability to read and comprehend health-related materials, researchers at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago found.
AIDS researchers must step up collaboration following last month's failure of Merck's key experimental HIV vaccine, says Alan Bernstein, the founding president of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, who has now been appointed first executive director of the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise. The setback, he says, underlined the need for cooperation to speed up vaccine work, Reuters reports. Bernstein's job as head of the group is to bring together academics, drugmakers, governments and regulators to work on a common strategy.
To overcome European state-run healthcare systems tight purse string, some drugmakers are trying pay for performance. This has already been reported elsewhere, but this morning, The Wall Street Journal takes a run at the topic (subscription required). Johnson & Johnson has promised to reimburse the UK's National Health Service when patients don't respond to its Velcade blood cancer med, and struck a deal in France for its Risperdal schizophrenia drug. And France's health-care service says it's talked to Glaxo about such arrangements. Drugmakers are offering deals instead of cutting prices over fears of setting precedents that would cause insurers to demand price cuts.