Dangerous bacteria in circulation; Disinfo documents go unpunished; Enbrel patent thicket

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Welcome to the latest edition of Investigative Roundup, which features some of the best investigative reporting in healthcare every week.

Dangerous strain of salmonella circulates as regulators are on hold

In May 2018, America’s top disease sleuths noticed a rare and virulent strain of salmonella. As people landed at the hospital, the source was unclear and appeared to be across the country. Today, even though the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and industry are aware, “contaminated meat continues to be sold to consumers” a ProPublica the investigation found.

People might have expected federal regulators to act swiftly and decisively to warn the public, recall contaminated poultry, and force changes to chicken factories. ProPublica reported. “Or that federal investigators would look for the root cause of the outbreak where the evidence led.”

But that never happened, according to the article.

CDC team closed investigation 9 months later, even as people continued to get sick with multidrug-resistant salmonella Infanta, ProPublica find. The USDA was “powerless to act” and “has not told consumers about the growing threat”.

Grocers and restaurants continued to sell salmonella chicken infanta – and they continue to do so today, the article says.

Among the victims of the epidemic was Arthur Sutton, who allegedly ate food contaminated with salmonella Infanta while celebrating their 70th birthday with longtime partner Marva Lamping at their favorite Mexican restaurant in Bend, Oregon, ProPublica reported. After a 2-week hospitalization and multiple surgeries, Sutton succumbed to the infection on August 16, 2019.

In his investigation, ProPublica used the same genetic data available at the USDA and other Salmonella agencies Infanta samples taken from foods and patients cataloged by the NIH. Through public registration requests, ProPublica then linked the genetic data to the food the victims had eaten and to the processing plants where the infected chicken samples came from.

Last week, the USDA said it is rethinking its approach to the bacteria, ProPublica reported.

In Georgia, doctors are still free to peddle COVID-19 lies

As more and more members of the medical community demand that their own profession be held responsible for spreading dangerous lies about COVID-19, doctors in Georgia remain free to do so, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

In the state, the Georgia Composite Medical Board “has not issued any public statements or directives to physicians to counter misinformation or disinformation, let alone any discipline,” the AJC reported.

The AJC pointed to the example of Scott Barbour, MD, who records a podcast (wearing scrubs) in which “he gives health advice that experts say could send a person to intensive care.”

The orthopedic surgeon, who is also associated with America’s Frontline Doctors, tells his listeners that COVID-19 vaccines have not been sufficiently studied and may lead to even worse infection, the AJC reported. He also says that hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin are effective in preventing COVID-19 and that people shouldn’t bother wearing masks.

“Now a growing segment of the medical community is calling for members of their own profession to be held accountable for undermining efforts to curb the spread of the virus and save lives,” he added. AJC reported.

While Georgia’s Public Health Commissioner Kathleen Toomey, MD, has expressed frustration at the misinformation, the state medical board has yet to act with statements or discipline, the AJC reported.

Carlos del Rio, MD, executive associate dean of the Emory School of Medicine and professor of global health and epidemiology at the Rollins School of Public Health, told the AJC that he has never seen so much disinformation disseminated by important personalities.

“If I were in there saying, ‘You can eat all the cakes you want because there is no evidence that cakes cause obesity,’ I think some people would question my references, “he told the AJC.

Amgen’s patent thicket persists

Three decades ago, University of Texas scientist Bruce Beutler, MD, asked the federal government to grant him a patent. However, it was not until 2029 that etanercept (Enbrel), the arthritis drug that has its basis in Beutler’s research, could “finally face lower cost competition in the United States.” , BioPharma Diving reported.

Longevity is the result of pharmaceutical company Amgen’s efforts to build a wall of intellectual property protection, known as the “patent forest” BioPharma Diving reported.

“The practice can stretch pharmaceutical companies’ monopolies over their drugs well beyond the standard 20-year patent term,” BioPharma Diving reported. But, “Increasingly, these thickets of patents are cited by a diverse group of policymakers as contributing to high drug prices in the United States. “

“It’s easier to keep a monopoly on an old one than it is to find a successful new drug,” said Matthew Lane, executive director of the Coalition Against Patent Abuse. BioPharma Diving. “The cost of paying patent attorneys to file applications is a drop in the bucket,” compared to the cost of research and development.

Successful drugs like Enbrel generate over $ 1 billion in sales per year, BioPharma Diving Noted. And Amgen’s approach to protecting it with high-stakes litigation and drug patenting processes “isn’t as out of place as it sounds.”

“As long as investors continue to reward companies for maintaining for-profit patent monopolies, drug makers are likely to continue to use legal means to do so,” BioPharma Diving reported. “But they may find themselves more frequently challenged amid continued pressure from lawmakers.”

Amgen said BioPharma Diving in a statement that “biopharmaceutical research is an incremental process driven by science, and continued innovation after product approval can lead to significant medical advancements and improved patient experience.”

  • Jennifer Henderson joined MedPage Today as a corporate and investigative writer in January 2021. She has covered New York’s healthcare industry, life sciences, and law, among others.


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