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Bipolar News

February 4, 2006

Note: One or more of the following articles may require a subscription to view the entire article.  We cannot post articles that require a subscription.  We are sorry for the inconvenience.

Sean Astin on bipolar disorder
Newsday
Actor Sean Astin knows what bipolar disorder can do to a person. His mother, actress Patty Duke, was diagnosed as bipolar in 1982 when she was 35. ...

Man sentenced in stabbing death
Sherman Denison Herald Democrat
... arguments. Smith had tried to get the jury to understand that his client has had a very hard life and suffers from bipolar disorder. ...

Westporter's research sheds new light on bipolar disorder
Westport Minuteman - Westport,CT,USA
Dr. Blumberg's findings provide critical new information about bipolar disorder, often known as manic depressive illness. Dr. Blumberg ...

New clues on bipolar causes, treatments
United Press International - USA
... 3 (UPI) -- New research on bipolar disorder has revealed both a biological basis for the illness in the brain, as well as possibilities for new treatments. ...

Lawmakers must punish abusers
Dailyrecord.com - Parsippany,NJ,USA
James T. Hanley, former priest and admitted child molester, is a disgrace. He blames his criminal behavior on alcohol and bipolar problems. ...

Psychiatric Disorders Conference to Feature Advances in Schizophrenia, Depression, Anxiety, Bipolar and Related
PR Newswire via Yahoo! Finance
The 4th Annual "Psychiatric Disorders" conference, part of the CNS Diseases Congress, will focus on recent advances in schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, bipolar, sleep and related neurodegenerative disorders is scheduled to take place March 27-28, 2006 in Boston, MA, announces Strategic Research Institute.

Bipolar Gene Discovery No Big Deal to Bipolar Disability Victims, Says Advocate
PR Web Fri
Many of the 2 million bipolar disorder sufferers in the U.S. have severe symptoms which prevent them from holding down regular jobs. Unfortunately, according to professional disability advocate Dr. Susan Nickerson, DC PT, a number of bipolar disability cases are slipping through the cracks of a flawed Social Security system. Dr. Nickerson addresses the problem with a new "Bipolar's Guide to

Residents uneasy about their future neighbors
The Facts
BRAZORIA - Some residents along CR 677 aren't too happy their new neighbors plan to use the house they're building as a bipolar retreat, resource and educational center.

Understanding Depression
KidsHealth.org via Yahoo! News
Your daughter spends more time in her room than usual, with the door closed and the shades drawn. She sleeps a lot, and even the family dog can't make her smile anymore. She has stopped hanging out with her friends, and when you ask what's going on, she just mumbles.

Ohio Medicare patient testifies to Congress
CentralOhio.com
WASHINGTON - Michael Donato of Mansfield is one of hundreds of thousands of Medicare patients who fell through the cracks of the new prescription drug program.

Investigator: Erratic driver said she was 'on a mission'
Kingsport Times-News
ERWIN - A woman accused of hitting two cruisers Thursday in Unicoi County during a pursuit and driving toward a school administrator in Sullivan County told an investigator Friday that she had been on a mission, Sheriff Kent Harris said.

Drug companies to profit from Medicare plan

The Record (Bergen County, NJ); 2/3/2006; TONY PUGH, KNIGHT RIDDER NEWSPAPERS

WASHINGTON — The new Medicare drug benefit will give drug companies up to $2 billion in extra profits this year because they're no longer required to pay rebates on drugs bought by the government for the elderly poor.

The hefty windfall raises new concerns that the Bush administration won't fully realize its promises of lower drug prices in the troubled new program.

The boost in profits comes from a shift in the drug coverage of 6.4 million poor and elderly people from Medicaid to the new Medicare drug benefit. Unlike Medicaid, which requires drug companies to charge their lowest or "best price" for medications, the Medicare program relies on competition among private drug plans to keep prices low. By eliminating the need to discount drugs for the government, the industry can now pocket the savings.

"The net effect over 10 years is probably closer to $40 billion in extra profit," said Stephen Schondelmeyer, a pharmaceutical economics professor at the University of Minnesota.

A little-known study by the Prudential Equity Group from June 2005 estimated that the makers of three anti-psychotic medications stand to benefit most from the change, taking in roughly $1.1 billion in new profits on products used by the 6.4 million who are Medicare's most poor and frail patients.

Experts say drug prices in the Medicare program will be higher this year than prices under Medicaid because the private Medicare drug plans won't likely match the price discounts achieved by Medicaid, the joint state and federal health program for the poor.

But the new profit estimates and the higher drug price projections have rekindled accusations that the Medicare drug benefit enriches drug companies at the expense of U.S. taxpayers.

Medicare administrator Mark McClellan questioned Prudential's findings. In testimony Thursday before the Senate Special Committee on Aging, he said Medicare plans are covering people at a cost average of 15 percent less than expected, which has helped push the average plan premium down to $25 from an original estimate of $37.

As a result, the cost of the drug plan likely will be $30.5 billion in 2006, down from an earlier estimate of $38.1 billion, McClellan testified. And the program's 10-year cost estimate has likewise dipped from $926 billion to $797 billion.

"The drug plans are negotiating aggressive discounts and rebates that are being passed along to beneficiaries and taxpayers," McClellan said.

According to Prudential, the medications that will gain the most and the profits they're likely to reap are Seroquel by AstraZeneca ($521 million), Lamictal by GlaxoSmithKline ($298 million) and Zyprexa by Eli Lilly ($285 million).

Those figures reflect Prudential's estimates that Medicare drug plans will negotiate discounts amounting to only 5 percent of what the drug companies paid in rebates to Medicaid on those products.

An AstraZeneca representative questioned the study's methodology, saying the profit estimate for Seroquel, a schizophrenia medication, was too high. AstraZeneca gave no alternate figures. A GlaxoSmithKline representative wouldn't discuss projected earnings for Lamictal, a treatment for bipolar disorder. A representative for Lilly said the company expected only a "modest short-term benefit to sales" for Zyprexa under the Medicare program, but wouldn't give specifics.

Zyprexa, also a schizophrenia treatment, is Lilly's top-selling product, with U.S. sales of $2.04 billion in 2005. Lilly's earnings per share could rise by 6 percent in 2006 just by escaping the rebates, the Prudential study estimates.

With U.S. sales of $2.76 billion in 2005, Seroquel's increased Medicare profit could boost AstraZeneca's earnings per share by 8 percent, the report found.

Company policy prohibits Prudential analysts from discussing reports with non-clients, said company spokesman Jim Gorman.

Tony Butler, managing director and pharmaceutical analyst at Lehman Bros., an investment bank in New York, agreed with the report that Medicare would probably have higher drug prices than Medicaid. Butler estimated the sales windfall for drug companies under Medicare to be between $1.8 billion and $2 billion.

He said profits would likely increase in coming years as more businesses cut retirees' drug benefits and steer their former employees into the Medicare drug plans.

Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., ranking minority member of the House Committee on Government Reform, has asked the Government Accountability Office to investigate the profits as a waste of taxpayer money.

In a Jan. 27 letter to GAO Comptroller General David M. Walker, Waxman wrote: "There appears to be no rational policy justification for providing this immense hidden subsidy to the drug industry. ... It appears that the only party benefiting in this arrangement are the drug companies that give millions to the Republican leaders who drafted the legislation."

Copyright © 2006 Bergen Record Corp. All rights reserved.

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