Do Google & Bing censor online pharmacy search results? Pharmaceutical companies have called for censorship.

GABRIEL LEVITT | April 25, 2019

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Until we lower drug prices here at home in America, online access to affordable medication internationally is clearly essential. But what if we lived in a country where people were no longer able to find safe international options online? In an ideal world, search algorithms empower consumers to find the exact information they are looking for on these search engines. In a recent Google algorithm update (March 2019), which affected the “natural” or “organic,” non-paid search results, we wonder if there was foul play involved in which Google was caving in to Big Pharma. The Electronic Frontier Foundation identified this problem in 2016, in “How Big Pharma’s Shadow Regulation Censors the Internet.”

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Rush University Medical Center

Rush University Medical Center is an academic medical center that includes a 671-bed hospital serving adults and children, the 61-bed Johnston R. Bowman Health Center and Rush University. Rush University is home to one of the first medical colleges in the Midwest and one of the nation's top-ranked nursing colleges, as well as graduate programs in allied health, health systems management and biomedical research. The Medical Center also offers more than 70 highly selective residency and fellowship programs in medical and surgical specialties and subspecialties.

OTHER ARTICLES

Decentralized Clinical Trials: Imperative for Pharma Sector to fight COVID19

Article | April 3, 2020

These are unprecedented times. The world is mobbed by a contagion virus, putting people’s health at risk, threatening to destabilize economies. It has already put global healthcare systems under tremendous pressures, and managed to resist efforts to contain it. Even though coronaviruses are not new, this COVID-19 strain has created panic and forced us to be locked down in our homes sans any movement for weeks, if not months. Organizations are fighting an intense battle to keep their workforce safe, minimize risk, and ensure business continuity. For the Life Sciences industry, however, the challenge is even more significant. The whole world is looking at them to come up with a vaccine and a cure. But that is easier said than done. Bringing a new drug to market is an uphill battle and requires rigorous clinical trials. This process already has regulatory challenges. With the current lockdown situation, the Pharma community is grappled with the challenge of continuing some of the critical and time-sensitive in-flight trials so that their regulatory submission, registration, and market entry are not impacted. But all may not be lost. With the right technology solution, it is possible to turn the situation around rapidly.

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As Pandemic Continues, Rafael Pharmaceuticals Enrolls Patients in Phase III Pancreatic Cancer Trial

Article | April 3, 2020

That simple truth about the severity of the disease is one of the reasons that Rafael Pharmaceuticals is slowly continuing with a Phase III trial in metastatic pancreatic cancer during the COVID-19 pandemic. While many companies have paused enrollment in clinical trials during the outbreak, Cranbury, N.J,-based Rafael opted to continue to enroll patients in its Phase III AVENGER 500 study of its lead compound CPI-613 (devimistat) in combination with modified Folfirinox (mFFX) as first-line therapy for the disease. Sanjeev Luther, president and chief executive officer of Rafael Pharmaceuticals, told BioSpace that the company made the decision to continue to enroll the trial, which was 75% filled, due to the short timeline patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer have. After discussing the matter of the trial with the company’s leadership team, Luther said they felt comfortable leaving the decision of whether or not the trial should continue to the conducting institute.

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VIEWS AND ANALYSIS

New Dimensions of Clinical Trial Optimization

Article | April 3, 2020

For much of the past three decades, even as methodologies for clinical trial design have advanced and refined, the idea of the optimized clinical trial has centered on optimal patient samples, target enrollment rates, and generally the most efficient uses of scarce resources in the form of patients. Yet anyone who has had to design and optimize a clinical trial, knows that trial optimization occurs within an ecosystem of choices; a series of choices that stretch from the time it takes to implement a clinical trial and submit clinical data for analysis, to general concerns about the cost and power of a clinical trial. A true clinical trial optimization process would try to unify a number of these choices into a single framework for trial optimization. The complexity of clinical trial optimization comes from the need to align priorities on the one hand, and to understand opportunities on the other. We know that at a very general level, clinical operations specialists benefit from simplicity in clinical trial design, and that commercial teams prefer shorter clinical trials to longer ones. We also know that the statistical design of a clinical trial can influence both simplicity and duration. Yet how many sponsors have their clinical operations and commercial teams, sit with their R&D teams to review various statistically nuanced design options? For many sponsors, the reason this process does not occur as often as it should, is because the nuanced statistical parameters of a clinical trial design are very difficult to communicate to non-statisticians. Yet a trial optimization tool like Solara, equipped with data visualizations and the ability to see tradeoffs intuitively, can overcome this challenge. The real challenge is often convincing the non-statistician that they have a stake in clinical trial design. Cytel recently had a client that thought it needed a sample size re-estimation design, because it had a very strict limit on the number of patients it could enroll. After a few hours of working with Solara, though, a statistician discovered that a much simpler Group Sequential Design would deliver comparable power using about the same number of patients. The gains from the more complex design were minimal from the optimization perspective, when understood as the eco-system of choices. Similarly, most commercial teams pressure their clinical trial designers to have the most accelerated clinical trial imaginable, but as we all know, the longer the clinical trial the more likely there will be a higher number of events that demonstrate the effectiveness of a new medicine. So commercialization teams have a stake in longer clinical trials, even when their rule of thumb is to shorten them. Therefore, it is absolutely essential to communicate the benefits of various statistical designs to multiple stakeholders in a way that makes tradeoffs clear. Aligning on priorities early during the clinical trial design process is essential to selecting the optimal clinical trial. Yet for this statisticians need to be equipped for both a strategic and communicative role in the R&D process.

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Do Clinical Trial Delays Mean Trouble for Pharmaceutical Stocks?

Article | April 3, 2020

Pharmaceutical stocks have been somewhat of a safe haven for investors as the coronavirus outbreak spread from China to the rest of the world. But as the pandemic deepened, now resulting in more than 782,000 cases worldwide, even these "safer" companies are beginning to feel the effects. The U.S. is now the coronavirus epicenter, with the most cases -- more than 161,000 as of today. Initial concerns for drugmakers had to do with the supply of active pharmaceutical ingredients, which often come from China. The worry was that pharmaceutical companies wouldn't be able to produce enough of their drugs for patients.

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Spotlight

Rush University Medical Center

Rush University Medical Center is an academic medical center that includes a 671-bed hospital serving adults and children, the 61-bed Johnston R. Bowman Health Center and Rush University. Rush University is home to one of the first medical colleges in the Midwest and one of the nation's top-ranked nursing colleges, as well as graduate programs in allied health, health systems management and biomedical research. The Medical Center also offers more than 70 highly selective residency and fellowship programs in medical and surgical specialties and subspecialties.

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