A new drug has been released which is supposed to be helpful in the prophylaxis against HIV infections. This one drug, in my opinion, sums up everything that is both good and bad in the pharmaceutical industry. Unless you were alive and sexually active in the mid-to-late 1980s, it’s hard to imagine how devastating HIV was. Unless you are a homosexual male, it is hard to imagine how devastating HIV continues to be.
First the good. This new drug appears to be highly effective at preventing HIV infections. It is possible to reduce the risk of infection by up to 75%. This is clearly good. This combined with safe sex practices should help reduce HIV infections in at-risk populations.
Now, the not so good. One of the problems that the pharmaceutical industry has is that it spends a lot of time and money repackaging old drugs. This new drug, Truvada, is not a new drug in all. Instead, it is a combination of two old drugs. I’m not saying that this combination is not effective. I’m saying that is not new. Secondly, almost everything that comes out of the pharmaceutical industry these days is also ridiculously expensive. This drug, in order to be effective, must be taken every day. Truvada costs approximately $14,000 a year.
So, in summary, we have a drug that appears to be extremely effective at reducing HIV infections if it is taken every day and if the patient can afford $14,000 per year. The cost and the daily regimen seems to really limit the effectiveness of this drug.
During week 41 (October 11-17, 2009), influenza activity increased in the U.S.
4,855 (37.5%) specimens tested by U.S. World Health Organization (WHO) and National Respiratory and Enteric Virus Surveillance System (NREVSS) collaborating laboratories and reported to CDC/Influenza Division were positive for influenza.
All subtyped influenza A viruses being reported to CDC were 2009 influenza A (H1N1) viruses.
The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza (P&I) was above the epidemic threshold.
Eleven influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported. Nine of these deaths were associated with 2009 influenza A (H1N1) virus infection and two were associated with an influenza A virus for which subtype is undetermined.
The proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness (ILI) was above the national baseline. All 10 regions reported ILI above region-specific baseline levels.
Forty-six states reported geographically widespread influenza activity, Guam and three states reported regional influenza activity, one state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico reported local influenza activity, and the U.S. Virgin Islands did not report.
I have blogged on Swine Flu every week since its outbreak. I have a feeling that nobody is listening. There are over 21,000 cases in the US with 87 deaths. Every state from Alaska to Florida has reported swine flu cases.
The first study of U.S. health care workers with swine flu found that many didn’t do enough to protect themselves against the virus.
Researchers focused on 13 nurses and other health care workers who were likely infected at work in the early days of the U.S. outbreak. They found that only half always wore gloves, and even fewer routinely wore other protection around patients who might have the virus.
In late April just as U.S. cases were first mounting the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said health care workers should wear gloves, gowns, eye protection and respirator masks when dealing with patients suspected of having swine flu. The CDC also advised sick workers to stay home.
To date, about 80 health care workers have been confirmed with swine flu. The study examined the 26 cases of infected workers with detailed information as of mid-May.
The CDC discussion of the findings is here (transcript). Summer camp impact is here.