Science Policy For All

Because science policy affects everyone.

Science Policy Around the Web – November 21, 2014

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By: Elisavet Serti, PhD

photo credit: danielfoster437 via photopin cc

Drug Policy

Gilead pharma company will cut anti-HepC drug cost for developing countries

US drugmaker Gilead has licensed Sovaldi, its $1000-a-pill Hepatitis C drug to seven India-based drugmakers that will sell cheaper versions of the drug in 91 developing countries. Gilead has been criticized in the recent past because of the very high price of its drug ($84,000 for a complete treatment course), which excludes the majority of chronic HCV patients from receiving state of the art treatment. According to Dr. Hoofnagle, a famous NIH gastroenterologist that contributed to the establishment of the previous standard of care anti HCV treatment, a 12-week treatment course with the new combination pill against Hepatitis C genotype 1, called Harvoni from Gilead (it contains Sovaldi with one more post-anti-viral agent known as Lediparvir) reaches even higher response rates (greater than 93%), but it costs $96,000 and private insurance companies usually refuse to cover this cost. The estimated burden of anti-HepC treatment for the already overburdened US health care system will be at around $100 billion. (Aditya Kalra and Zeba Siddiqui, Reuters and Dr J. Hoofnagle’s lecture in Bethesda on 11/12/2014)


Federal Research Funding

The depressing burden of depression

I guess you would all agree that the modern way of life is a major factor for the increase in the cases of depression, which has now been accepted as a medical problem that needs to be treated as early as possible. According to reports, depression causes more disability than any other mental health problem (WHO. 2004) and accounts for mood changes, concentration problems and decrease in workforce productivity. Depression’s annual toll on U.S. businesses is approximately $70 billion in medical expenditures, lost productivity and other costs. Depression accounts for close to $12 billion in lost workdays each year (Wall Street Journal, 2001). Although depression is common, it is often ignored. Depressive disorders affect approximately 6.7 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year (Archives of General Psychiatry, 2005 Jun; 62(6): 617-27). Some psychiatrists support that the high levels of undiagnosed or untreated depression would be considered scandalous for a disease such as cancer. It seems that the absence of a crisp diagnosis and the lack of understanding the mechanism of the disease development have held back therapy and research. Genetic studies have failed to define a specific genetic component, several therapeutic clinical trials have failed, and existing treatments need refinement. Redefining research agendas, raising awareness and increasing the funds towards research on depression should be priorities, especially in the era of the “BRAIN Initiative.”   (Heidi Ledford, Nature)


Workforce Development

PhDs outside academia: The brave ones who got away

Lots of discussion has been done lately about the future of PhD students and post Docs emerging from universities simply because there are not enough opportunities and funds in the academia to support them. Approximately 20% of Americans with science PhDs were not working in science in 2010 ( and less than 10% of the 86,000 current biology PhD students in the United States will become tenure-track faculty members ( The paradox is that post Docs that are actually brave enough to accepts the facts and to leave the lab to work elsewhere are judged to have lost their focus or their “scientific drive” or to have been seduced by the dark side. Forcing a highly trained postdoc away from research is a waste of knowledge, time and money; that is why the whole research sector needs to be restructured. Universities and research institutes should stop taking advantage of the “cheap trainees” i.e. PhD students and post Docs, and more permanent research positions should be generated. These permanent employees would cost more but the labs would become smaller and far more efficient. (by Jessica Polska,


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Written by sciencepolicyforall

November 21, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Posted in Linkposts

Tagged with , , , ,

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