This past July, the European Commission released estimates that if generic drugs were to enter markets immediately after patents expire—instead of the present average of seven months later—EU patients and national health services might save €3 billion ($4.5 billion) annually. But regulators acknowledge that costly and time-consuming patent disputes, and possible anticompetitive practices in the pharmaceutical industry, mean that such savings remain elusive. Continue reading Sluggish generics entry prompts calls for European patent reform
Like most stem cell biologists, Helen Mardon obtained her first cell lines from someone she knew. Later, when she needed more material, she chose to pay for a line from a commercial dealer. Eventually, the Oxford Stem Cell Institute co-director derived her own in-house human embryonic stem cell core from embryos donated by in vitro fertilization patients.
Mardon could have gotten human embryonic stem cell (hESC) lines for the cost of delivery from the UK Stem Cell Bank (SCB), one of a handful of stem cells banks worldwide (See A bank in England for stem cells). Supported by government funds, the bank stores, distributes and provides ethical oversight of hESC lines in Britain free of charge to academic and commercial researchers. The samples they distribute are top notch: a half-dozen bench researchers screen their stocks to ensure banked lines are free from viral infections or mycoplasma contamination, and routine checks are also completed before lines are shipped. But for now, Mardon says, “going through the bank just adds a huge layer of paperwork and bureaucracy”.
I covered monkey business of several types this week. First, I wrote a news story about Simon Singh, who announced that he hopes to appeal a judge’s ruling in a libel case about chiropractic. He and his supporters are also campaigning to limit the influence of English libel laws on public science-related debates.
I also wrote a news story about scientists who tickled apes and human babies so they could see how ape laughter reflects our evolutionary relationships.
Finally I blogged briefly about a topic that’s gotten attention in the media: the failure of the American health care insurance system to adequately protect Americans from financial ruin.
LONDON–When scientists move into new laboratory buildings, their universities often proclaim the event with a ribbon cutting and champagne. Yet when the first mice arrived at the University of Oxford’s new animal research facility last week, officials waited to make the announcement until a press conference here today. Rather than enthusiastically providing details about the building’s inhabitants–animals and researchers included–Oxford officials spent much of the media encounter declining to answer questions and asking that names of those involved with the building not be used. Continue reading Oxford Cagey About New Animal Labs