CMS officials said the average monthly premium for the Medicare Part D drug plan will increase to about $28 in 2009. The increase was driven by soaring prices of prescription medicines, as well as "higher-than-anticipated costs" for drug distributors that cover catastrophic care, said Kerry Weems, acting administrator of CMS.
Blinatumomab, a new drug from Maryland-based Micromet, resulted in full or partial tumor regression in all seven patients with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma who received the highest dose. The drug is a protein that -- for the first time -- attaches T-cells to cancer cells. Two more sets of trials are needed before it can gain regulatory approval, and as one analyst said, "if this type of response rate can be replicated at these durations, it could be a very effective therapy."
Long lines have started to form over the past few months at a plasma donation center in Arizona. Some of the donors say they donate because they need the money to pay for gas and other bills. However, a spokesperson for the center noted that plasma donations countrywide were up in 2007, with 3 million more donations than the year before. "We see it more as supply and demand. There is more demand for plasma products, and worldwide there have been new centers opening and expanding," Christine Kuhinka, ZLB Plasma corporate communications manager, said.
A British hospital is investing more than $18 million in its pathology lab, using automation to carry out blood tests so it can increase its testing capacity. The lab says that when it opens late next year, it will guarantee results in one hour for acute departments.
Australia's Murdoch University and Epichem, a partnering medicinal chemistry company, received $3 million from the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative, a global, collaborative nonprofit, to boost its Chagas' disease research program. The university's Parasitology Research Group will lead the research and will be the only center in the southern hemisphere screening drugs against the major diseases transmitted through vectors.