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Hard Work, High Price

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AstraZeneca has recently gotten a targeted cancer drug — vandetanib, for the treatment of a rare form of thyroid cancer — approved, but it has taken years of trying, says Forbes' Matthew Herper. Despite the approval, the restrictions on the medicine could make it difficult to sell, and might raise the price. Vandetanib failed in trials for non-small-cell lung cancer and bladder cancer before proving effective in thyroid cancer, Herper says, and this highlights the difficulties most companies have with making targeted cancer pills. Novartis has managed to profit with Gleevec, but that's a rare success story. "Now, with vandetanib, AstraZeneca will be facing even more hurdles. Because vandetanib affects the electrical activity of the heart, potentially lethally, it is being sold under a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy. Doctors and pharmacies will have to be specially certified to dispense the drug," Herper says. "Pricing information was not immediately available, but given the restricted use and small population of patients who might use the drug, the price is likely to be high."

The Scan

Not Yet a Permanent One

NPR says the lack of a permanent Food and Drug Administration commissioner has "flummoxed" public health officials.

Unfair Targeting

Technology Review writes that a new report says the US has been unfairly targeting Chinese and Chinese-American individuals in economic espionage cases.

Limited Rapid Testing

The New York Times wonders why rapid tests for COVID-19 are not widely available in the US.

Genome Research Papers on IPAFinder, Structural Variant Expression Effects, Single-Cell RNA-Seq Markers

In Genome Research this week: IPAFinder method to detect intronic polyadenylation, influence of structural variants on gene expression, and more.