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March 12, 2006
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Zerhouni Interview

Drug Development Times


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New postings and analysis from Health Affairs, the leading journal of health policy.Health Affairs publishes new research each week online at For more information, contact Chris Fleming at 301-347-3944.

Policy Briefing on Global Health, Drug Vouchers

Subsidies for the costs of artemisinin-based combination treatments for malaria are needed immediately to prevent the emergence of a malaria superbug, Ramanan Laxminarayan of Resources For The Future and coauthors assert in the March/April 2006 issue of Health Affairs. It warns that failure to provide this support could allow the malaria parasite to become resistant to all known treatments, possibly by the end of the decade.

The malaria study is one of several articles in the March/April issue focusing on global health dilemmas. These papers reflect the beginning of an aggressive, long-term Health Affairs initiative, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to focus more attention on global health policy research. Also in the March/April issue, David Ridley and colleagues offer a proposal to encourage drug companies to develop treatments for neglected diseases by offering "vouchers" that could be used to accelerate the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's review of a blockbuster drug intended primarily for rich-country markets.

Print editions of Health Affairs may be ordered for $35 each from Health Affairs' Customer Service at 301-347-3900 or online at

NIH Director: Curative Model Of Medical Practice Is Unsustainable

The practice of medicine needs to be fundamentally altered, and only scientific innovation can make this happen. That's the vision of National Institutes of Health (NIH) director Elias Zerhouni, M.D., articulated in an interview published today on the Health Affairs Web site. The interview is the first in a series of Health Affairs interviews with scientific innovators funded by the nonprofit Institute for Health Technology Studies (InHealth), Washington, D.C.

Zerhouni says that electronic medical records and national health insurance could help reduce medical costs, but only at the margins. What's really needed, he tells Health Affairs deputy editor Barbara J. Culliton, is scientific innovation that facilitates earlier intervention in the disease process. Zerhouni sees his job as pushing that innovation, as being "a provocateur, not a manager of the status quo."

New Study Says Drug Development Times Are Decreasing

The pharmaceutical industry's argument that long drug development times are responsible for escalating drug prices is not valid. In fact, clinical trial times are not increasing and are an unlikely contributor to rising prescription drug prices, according to a new study published today in the March/April 2006 issue of the journal Health Affairs.

According to Salomeh Keyhani of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and coauthors, drug development times vary by drug characteristics and have actually decreased over time. Drugs with the potential for high market sales appear to be developed more quickly than those with less potential.


Health Affairs, published by Project HOPE, is the leading journal of health policy. The peer-reviewed journal appears bimonthly in print with additional online-only papers published weekly as Health Affairs Web Exclusives at The full text of each Health Affairs Web Exclusive is available free of charge to all Web site visitors for a two-week period following posting, after which it switches to pay-per-view for nonsubscribers. The abstracts of all articles are free in perpetuity. Web Exclusives are supported in part by a grant from the Commonwealth Fund.


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