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In its continuing effort to ensure the safety and efficacy of compounded medications, the FDA yesterday issued a compounding risk alert about cesium chloride, which is sometimes used by cancer patients.

Merck will drop the price of its Hepatitis C drug Zepatier by 60%, the company announced yesterday. In addition, it plans to cut the price of “several other” drugs by 10%. In doing so, Merck went further than two competitors—Pfizer and Novartis—who said that they would not increase drug prices for the rest of 2018.

Location, location, location. That’s always been the mantra in real estate, but it could be adopted to health care, as well. Variation in cost for treatment has long been noted and bemoaned.

Guideline.gov went dark this week. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) said it’s looking for a partner that can carry on the work of NGC, but that effort hasn’t panned out yet, according a reporter for the Sunlight Foundation’s Web Integrity Project.

Kymriah (tisagenlecleucel) and Yescarta (axicabtagene ciloleucel) cost $373,000 to treat adults with advanced lymphomas, while Kymriah costs $475,000 to treat acute lymphoblastic leukemia in children and young adults, according to Kaiser Health News.

The World Health Organization declared smallpox to be eradicated way back in 1980. However, many antiterrorism experts worry that radical groups can use the disease to wipe out populations who may never have been inoculated against it. That helps explain the attention the FDA received when it approved tecovirimat (TPOXX) on July 13 to treat smallpox.

An impurity called N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) was found in several of products containing valsartan, which is used to treat heart failure and high blood pressure. But not all products containing valsartan are being recalled.

The attenuated Mycobacterium bovis Bacillus Calmette Guérin (BCG) strain has been used as a vaccine against tuberculosis for 100 years. But recently, researchers have been experimenting with using the vaccine as treatment for inflammatory and autoimmune conditions because of its notable anti-inflammatory properties.

There will be less money for a program that helps ensure better participation in ACA plans during the open enrollment period this November. The Trump administration will fund the ACA outreach efforts for $10 million next year, that’s down from $36 million for 2018 enrollment and almost $63 million for 2017.

Pfizer blinked. President Trump and Pfizer CEO Ian Read had a long talk yesterday about the company’s decision last week to raise the prices on about 40 of the drugs it manufactures.

Under the ACA’s risk adjustment system for insurers, health plans that have to serve sicker populations are compensated by the earnings of plans that don’t have to.

Biosimilars are drugs that match the properties of the original biologic without any meaningful clinical differences.

The U.S. may be a little wary when it comes to approving biosimilars, but the rest of the world seems to have jumped in with both feet. The global market for biosimilars will grow from $5.95 billion this year to $23.63 billion by 2023, according to a report by ResearchAndMarkets.

The cost of a generic depends, somewhat, on where the buyer lives. GoodRx examined the average cash price of about 500 generic drugs at pharmacies across the country and found wide disparities in cost. Some of that had to do with where you lived: the cities with the highest costs were San Francisco and New York. 

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is advising consumers not to purchase or use Maximum Powerful, a product promoted for sexual enhancement that contains sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra. This product was identified during an examination of international mail shipments.

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