By Dorothy Du
Facebook Plans to Fix Privacy Flaw that Allows “Apps” to Share User Information
The Wall Street Journal reports that Facebook applications (“apps”) have been transmitting user-IDs to dozens of third parties. These third parties include advertising and data-gathering companies, which use and sell the information. The Electronic Frontier Foundation reports that all of the top ten Facebook.com “apps,” including FarmVille and Mafia Wars, are guilty of such actions in violation of their web developer agreements with Facebook. User IDs give companies the ability to look up the user’s real name, friends’ names, and other data posted on the user’s public profile. The information leak was made possible by a browser standard that allows the apps to record the URL of the page from which the user came — information that includes the user ID — as the New York Times reports. Facebook has shut down some of the offending apps, but with 550,000 Facebook apps, the task of protecting users may prove difficult to achieve.
Wyeth Wins Latest In String of Suits Over Hormone Replacing Drug that Increases Cancer Risk
Wyeth, which was purchased by Pfizer Inc. in 2009, has won the latest in a string of suits over the health risks of Prempo, a hormone replacement drug for menopausal women, reports Bloomberg and ABC News. After deliberating for less than an hour, the jury found that Wyeth had properly disclosed the link between increased risk of cancer and Prempo and rejected the plaintiff’s claim of $3.5 million for pain, suffering, and emotional distress. Wyeth’s lawyers had argued that the drug’s label disclosed the link and that the studies did not conclusively show that the drug caused breast cancer. Wyeth has now won six of thirteen jury trials regarding the effects of Prempo since 2006, and has been granted motions to dismiss in more than 3,000 cases. Over 6 million women had already taken Prempo when a 2002 study by the Women’s Health Initiative showed that the drug increased the risk of cancer. The New York Times has cast Prempo into the spotlight once again with its report on a follow-up study of the 12,788 women who participated in the Women’s Health Initiative study, which revealed that cancers suffered after taking the drug also tend to be more advanced and deadly. Pfizer still faces over 8,000 lawsuits involving Prempo.
The NIH Licenses Its Patent on AIDS Drug to International Entity
The New York Times reports that the NIH has become the first patentee to license its patent on an AIDS drug to the Medicines Patent Pool, an international entity run by Unitaid, an independent agency founded at the United Nations in 2006. The drug, darunivir, is a potential third-line treatment for patients who have not experienced success with second-line AIDS medications, according to Doctors Without Borders. The “patent pool” has the potential to increase third world patients’ access to patented medicines by allowing drug companies to use pooled licenses to produce affordable, generic drugs. In return, the participating patent holders will receive royalties. However, this particular NIH patent will not enable drug companies to produce generic versions of darunivir because of additional patents on the drug held by Tibotec, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson.