Trending News Today: Judge Rules for Gilead Over Merck in Hepatitis C Drug Patent Dispute

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Certain paperwork has been eliminated from the FDA’s compassionate use policy to further help patients with life-threatening diseases, reported Kaiser Health News. The application for FDA approval now requires physicians to fill out only 11 questions, which is 15 less than the old form and should be able to be completed in 45 minutes. The new form has a simpler design aimed at individual patients instead of physicians acting on behalf of a patient or a group of patients. Although the FDA has trimmed down the application form, it doesn’t necessarily mean that patients will receive the drugs faster. “There has been a tendency to focus on this FDA paperwork as the significant part of gaining access to drugs, but where most requests stop is with the company making the drug,” said Mark Fleury, a policy analyst at the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.

Through the use of data analytics, Microsoft scientists hope that analyzing large samples of search engine queries could lead to earlier detection of cancer. According to The New York Times, a recent study demonstrated the potential ability to identify individuals with pancreatic cancer who are browsing the internet, even before they have received a diagnosis. “We asked ourselves, ‘If we heard the whispers of people online, would it provide strong evidence or a clue that something’s going on?’” said Microsoft researcher Eric Horvitz. Authors noted that the new research is based on the team’s ability to accurately distinguish between searchers that are casual or anxiety-based and from genuine searchers for an individual’s specific medical symptoms.

A federal judge overturned the ruling requiring Gilead Sciences Inc to pay $200 million to Merck & Co in a drug patent dispute, reported The Wall Street Journal. US District Judge Beth Labson Freeman cited Merck as having engaged in misconduct in obtaining patents for hepatitis C drugs back in 2004. “Merck is guilty of unclean hands and forfeits its right to prosecute this action against Gilead,” Judge Freeman wrote. A Merck spokeswoman said that the company plans to appeal.