Health Highlights: Sept. 6, 2018

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

OxyContin Maker Gives $3.4 Million to Help Develop Cheaper Opioid Overdose Antidote

A $3.4 million grant to help a nonprofit company develop a less expensive opioid overdose antidote was announced by Purdue Pharma, which makes the opioid painkiller OxyContin.

Purdue is among a number of prescription opioid makers blamed for causing the United States’ opioid addiction and overdose crisis, the Associated Press reported.

The grant is being given to Pittsburgh-based Harm Reduction Therapeutics, which is trying to develop a low-cost nasal spray with the opioid overdose antidote naloxone.

Purdue and other drug companies are being sued by local governments that claim the companies used deceptive marketing that encouraged doctors to overprescribe opioids, the AP reported.

As of last week, opioid makers faced more than 1,000 lawsuits being overseen by a federal judge.


Blood Test Company Theranos Shutting Down

A company that once claimed it had developed a breakthrough blood test is shutting down.

The Silicon Valley startup Theranos faces allegations of fraud and is preparing to close operations, The New York Times reported.

The company promised to make blood tests much easier and less expensive with a single finger prick blood test that could detect a wide range of diseases. But as time went on, questions were raised about those claims.

“We are now out of time,” David Taylor, the company’s chief executive and general counsel, told investors in an email, The Times reported.


Hospital Groups, Healthcare Foundations Form Generic Drug Company

Three U.S. healthcare foundations and seven hospitals groups have formed a generic drug company to combat high prices and chronic shortages of medicines.

The company, Civica Rx, will start with 14 widely used hospital drugs, including generic pills, patches and injectable drugs for treating infections, pain and heart conditions, board chairman Dan Liljenquist said, the Associated Press reported.

“The mission of Civica is to make sure these drugs remain in the public domain, that they’re available and affordable to everyone,” he said.

The Salt Lake City area-based company will make some of the medicines itself and hire companies to produce others, Liljenquist said. It plans to have its first medicines on the market by mid- to late 2019, the AP reported.

Along with creating a stable supply of medicines for its 500 hospitals, Civica seeks to cut drug prices by about 20 percent. The drugs will also be available to nonmember hospitals, but at slightly higher prices, Liljenquist said.

Drug shortages have been common in the U.S. for more than a decade, particularly for generic drugs, the AP reported.

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