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Morning Read: Report tracks steep drug price increases by pharma companies

Also, an outbreak of VIP syndrome at hospitals, fashionable prosthetics and Samsung’s advancement of biosimilar drug for rheumatoid arthritis.

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A Reuters report investigating drug price hikes found that prices for four of the best-selling drugs in the U.S. have increased by 100 percent since 2011. Turing Pharmaceuticals and Valeant Pharmaceuticals have garnered headlines for their practices, such as Turing raising the price of Daraprim by 5,000 percent. AbbVie and Amgen raised the price of arthritis drugs, Humira and Enbril, respectively, and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries raised the price of multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone, by more than 100 percent since 2011. — Reuters

Sanofi is to launch a vaccine program for Dengue Fever. — Financial Times


The American College of Cardiology Conference kicked off over the weekend with some notable findings from studies presented in Chicago. But as so often happens with scientific studies the results raised more questions than they answer.

Cholesterol lowering drugs, statins, were the subject of a group of studies. The HOPE-3 study of 12,000 people over age 50 with high blood pressure and moderate risk of heart disease found that they could reduce their longterm risk of a heart attack by 40 percent of they took statins along with their blood pressure meds. AstraZeneca and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research funded the study. — Reuters

But some concluded that the study only reinforced that people above a certain age and showing a certain level of risk for heart disease should be prescribed statins, according to current cardiology guidelines. What’s still unresolved is what age that should start. — Forbes

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Samsung’s biosimilars unit, Samsung Bioepis, is suing AbbVie to prevent the drugmaker behind blockbuster rheumatoid arthritis drug Humira from blocking Samsung’s launch of its own version of the drug. — Reuters

In a bid to make medical devices like prosthetics less clinical and more colorful, some makers are getting downright trendy, with the aid of 3D printers. — National Public Radio

Amicus Therapeutics cleared a milestone that could decide whether the first oral treatment for Fabry disease in Europe gets approval in the second quarter. The European Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use approved the company’s oral migalastat drug for Fabry disease in patients who have an amenable genetic mutation. — The Wall Street Journal


The rise of medical tourism alongside the expectations of celebrities and royalty is leading to an outbreak of VIP syndrome in some hospitals. It may not screw up the IT systems, but it is causing some hospitals to bend and even break their own rules. Brigham Women’s Children’s Hospital, which got cited by the Massachusetts Department of Health,  is one case in point. — The Boston Globe, HIStalk

A study from Cooper University Health Care finds a correlation between patient satisfaction and quality of care. The study used data from more than  3,000 U.S. hospitals. It found that higher satisfaction ratings were connected to lower readmission rates. — The Philadelphia Inquirer

Pioneer Health Services has filed for bankruptcy with long-term stability as its goal. — Becker’s Hospital CFO


Do these ransomware attacks on hospitals show that fax machines and pagers still have a role to play in healthcare? They certainly seemed to help MedStar when it took the bold decision to go offline temporarily. — The Baltimore Sun


A leak at Panamanian law firm, Mossack Fonseca, to Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper in Munich, Germany and shared with Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has revealed how politicians and people of influence concealed their wealth in offshore bank accounts. As more information comes to light, this investigative report is likely to have a widespread impact. — Miami Herald

Photo: Flickr user Bill David Brooks