What We're Reading: Free Market Approach to Drug R&D Doesn't Work, Says UN

What we're reading, September 15, 2016: A United Nations panel challenges the market-based approach to drug research and development; an FDA panel recommends removing a serious health warning from Chantix's label; and older patients may want to wait to get their flu shot.

The United Nations has released a report that challenges the market-based approach to drug research and development. According to Reuters, a panel set up last year recommends de-linking R&D costs and drug prices in some areas, such as tropical diseases and new antibiotics to fight “superbugs.” The report suggests a process for governments to negotiate agreements and attacks tactics by Western governments that are used to stop poorer countries from overriding drug patents under World Trade organization rules.

An FDA panel has recommended removing a serious warning about neuropsychiatric side effects from Chantix’s product labeling. The decision is a win for Pfizer, which will be able to widen the market for the smoking cessation pill, reported STAT. The drug maker has been trying to get the warning removed for 2 years. The panel made its decision based on a study that found Chantix does not appear to increase the risk of suicidal behavior, even though an FDA medical team voiced its doubts regarding the study.

While pharmacy chains are already calling for patients to get their flu shots, people may want to wait. While getting the flu shot early is better than not getting it at all, it’s unclear how long the vaccine’s immunity lasts in a person’s system, according to Kaiser Health News. In particular, the protective effects of the vaccine may wear off faster for people older than the age of 65. Flu activity generally doesn’t peak until January or February.