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BCG vaccine is priced too low – now, shortage for bladder cancer

You probably don’t know much about the BCG vaccine, because it isn’t used much these days. And no, it’s not one of the vaccines on the CDC immunization schedule for either adults or children.

The Bacillus Calmette-Guerin vaccine, or BCG vaccine, was initially developed to prevent tuberculosis. The disease is caused by bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacteria usually attack the lungs, but they can also damage other parts of the body. Tuberculosis is treatable with advanced medicines, but it takes a long time and can be expensive. Without treatment, the patient will die.

So, why does it matter that the BCG vaccine is priced too low or that we have a shortage of it? Well, it has a couple of important uses (one current, and one potential) that has driven demand for the vaccine. And it’s not because there’s a sudden worldwide epidemic of tuberculosis.Read More »BCG vaccine is priced too low – now, shortage for bladder cancer

Martin Shkreli

Martin Shkreli – skyrocketing prices of an anti-parasitic drug

This article is #12 of the 12 most popular posts on Skeptical Raptor during 2015. Stay tuned, I’ll be reposting the rest of them through New Year’s Day.

It is a story about Martin Shkreli and Turing Pharmaceutical skyrocketing the price of pyrimethamine. Of course, he just got arrested for securities fraud, so it’s clear that Shkreli’s character is precisely what we thought it was.

Over the weekend, my newsfeed on Twitter and Facebook exploded with outrage and indignation about a story that was published in and other outlets regarding skyrocketing prices of an anti-parasitic drug – pyrimethamine (trade name Daraprim) – which is used to treat parasitic infections, like toxoplasmosis and malaria.

Pyrimethamine is frequently used in AIDS patients whose suppressed immune systems allow frequent parasitic infections like toxoplasmosis. As opposed to the AddictingInfo headline, stating that pyrimethamine is a “60 year old cancer drug,” there is no evidence that it was ever a “cancer drug.” It may have been used as such 60 years ago, but today it is not.

So let’s review some of the issues around this drug, and what are facts, and what are most certainly not. But one more thing, does this price increase really matter?

Read More »Martin Shkreli – skyrocketing prices of an anti-parasitic drug