Monday, December 19, 2005

Alberta restricts cold remedies

From the Globe and Mail:
Alberta will follow the lead of the other Prairie provinces by limiting access to cold remedies that are used to make crystal meth.

Alberta will require that cough and cold remedies that contain only the chemical pseudoephedrine must be sold in pharmacies and be stored behind the counter. ...more

Health Canada prohibits sale of Bextra in Canada

From Health Canada:
Following a review of safety information, Health Canada is informing the public that Bextra, an anti-inflammatory drug used to treat arthritis and pain, will not return to the market.

The manufacturer voluntarily suspended sales of Bextra in April 2005 due to safety concerns related to rare but serious skin reactions and cardiovascular problems. Health Canada issued a stop-sale order which ensured that Bextra (the brand name for valdecoxib) would not return to the market without further consultation with Health Canada. ...more,/a>

Important Safety Information on the discontinuation of Climacteron Injection

From Health Canada:
Sandoz Canada wishes to inform you that CLIMACTERON® Injection has been discontinued as of October 22, 2005. ...more - Pfizer sued again over Depo-Provera

From the Toronto Star:
A $700 million class action lawsuit against Pfizer Inc. alleges young women who took the birth control medication Depo-Provera have developed osteoporosis.

The motion for a class action lawsuit, filed yesterday in Toronto, also alleges that long-term users have been diagnosed with other bone mass density problems, including long recovery from fractures, brittle teeth, and hip, spine and jawbone problems. ...more

Health officials won't revive arthritis drug

From the Toronto Star:
Bextra, an anti-inflammatory drug for arthritis sufferers, will not be allowed back on the Canadian market.

Based on recommendations from an expert safety panel, Health Canada said yesterday the cardiovascular risks of the drug, including heart attack and stroke, outweighed its benefits. ...more

Manitoba Internet Pharmacies

From the Brandon Sun:
Origins: Started in late 1999 when a young Manitoba pharmacy graduate began selling Nicorette gum, a stop-smoking aid, over Ebay at the same time another Manitoba pharmacist started selling small quantities of insulin supplies to North Dakota. ...more

'Canadian' drugs come from other nations: FDA

From CTV News:
An investigation conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found a significant percentage of drugs touted as Canadian and shipped from Internet pharmacy websites claiming to be Canadian were not actually from Canada, the agency announced Friday.

The FDA said nearly one-half of the imported drugs intercepted from four selected countries were shipped to fill orders consumers believed had been placed with Canadian pharmacies.

Of the drugs that were promoted as Canadian, 85 per cent actually came from 27 countries around the globe and a number were counterfeit, the agency said. ...more

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Health Canada won't allow Bextra back on shelves

From CTV News:
The painkiller Bextra will not be allowed back on the Canadian market, Health Canada announced Friday.

In barring the return of the drug, Health Canada is following the advice of an expert panel, which after reviewing evidence and holding public hearings, concluded Bextra should not be sold in this country.

Bextra is a member of a class of drugs known as cox-2 inhibitors. Better known cox-2s are Celebrex, which is still sold, and Vioxx, which was pulled from worldwide markets in late September 2004. ...more

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Legal protection for euthanasia pharmacists

From Expatica:
Belgian pharmacists are now allowed to supply doctors with a fatal dose of medicine with which euthanasia can be carried out.

More than three years after Belgium legalised euthanasia, the new regulation relating to pharmacists has been published in the government newspaper 'Staatsblad'. Publication makes the new law legal.

Up until now, pharmacists faced the risk of being prosecuted for being an accomplice to a criminal act, medical weekly 'De Huisarts' reported. ...more
(Editor's Note: Not a Canadian pharmacy story, but interesting when it comes to ethical pharmacy practice in other parts of the world.)

Changes will hurt ’Net pharmacies

From the Brandon Sun:
Any breathing room the fall of the federal government afforded Canada’s Internet pharmacy industry could slowly evaporate in early 2006 because of a new U.S. drug benefit that will compete for many of the same patients.

Observers on both sides of the border don’t believe the plan will be the death knell for the $1-billion-a-year cross-border drug industry.

But on the heels of a year when the strong Canadian dollar thinned profit margins and federal Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh weighed measures that would effectively drive the industry out of Canada, it’s not exactly how mail-order druggists want to ring in 2006. ...more

Pharmacare program visions, methods vary differ

From the London Free Press:

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Furor erupts at medical journal

From the Globe and Mail:
The Canadian Medical Association Journal said yesterday that its owner, the Canadian Medical Association, transgressed the journal's editorial independence by demanding changes to a news report questioning the way pharmacists were handling sales of Plan B, the morning-after birth-control pill.

In an editorial slated for the Jan. 3 issue but released on-line yesterday, journal editor John Hoey announced he had struck a blue-ribbon panel to draw a clear line for the CMA on the issue of editorial autonomy. ...more

Vioxx lawsuit ends in mistrial

From the Fort Frances (Ont.) Times:
A judge declared a mistrial today in the first U.S. federal lawsuit over the once-popular painkiller Vioxx.

Merck & Co. emerged from its third Vioxx trial today with a hung jury when the panel failed, in about 18 hours of deliberations over three days, to side with the drug-maker or the widow of a 53-year-old Florida man who died after taking Vioxx for about a month.

The jury resumed what was to be its fourth day of deliberations today but within about 20 minutes, U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon called the jurors in and reminded them they had agreed to reach a verdict in a “reasonable time.” ...more

Monday, December 12, 2005

The art of the drug `detailer'

From the Toronto Star:
No gifts. No golf. No galas. No sports tickets, no special promotions and — to punish for one of the worst sins — no spouses at drug company-sponsored events.

As the Canadian pharmaceutical industry clamps down on its own lavish spending and aggressive marketing tactics aimed at the nation's 60,000 doctors, the focus has turned to the well-honed skills and performance of the drug sales rep.

It's no longer about gifts, but gift of the gab. The pitch is not about hard sell, but hard information. It's about looking good, talking straight, getting in and getting out. ...more

Pharmacies working to help prevent meth production

From the Tillsonburg (Ont.) News:
Pharmacies in Tillsonburg are doing their part to curb the production of methamphetamine.

Methamphetamine is a potentially-deadly drug that can cause respiratory problems, irregular heartbeat and can lead to anorexia.

The National Drug Scheduling Advisory Committee recently recommended certain cold medications be rescheduled in pharmacies. ...more

Shoppers likely to come out on top in drugstore boom, analyst says

From the Globe and Mail:
North America's drugstore business should enjoy lots of robust good health, according to Bay Street.

The population is getting older and more frail, which should mean lots of demand for medication and health products. Meanwhile, gorgeous emporiums of beauty and makeup products are replacing traditional medicinal-smelling pharmacies. ...more

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Important Safety Information on the Association of Zevalin (ibritumomab tiuxetan) with severe mucocutaneous reactions

From Health Canada:
Berlex Canada Inc., in collaboration with Health Canada, is informing healthcare professionals of new safety information regarding ZEVALIN. ZEVALIN, as part of the ZEVALIN treatment regimen, is a medication used for the treatment of patients with some types of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma that have received and are not responding to other treatments, including patients with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma that is not responsive to rituximab.
For the public...
For health professionals...

Roche could allow wider production of Tamiflu

From CTV News:
Roche Pharmaceuticals could soon allow 15 generic drug companies to produce Tamiflu in case of an avian flu pandemic.

Tamiflu, the brand name for the drug oseltamivir, is one of only four drugs that works effectively against influenza. It can reduce the severity of the disease, and in some cases prevent infection.

Doctors believe the drug could help control a pandemic of H5N1 avian influenza, although its effectiveness would likely be less than it is against seasonal influenza, according to Reuters. ...more

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Ottawa's Tamiflu purchase under fire

From the National Post:
Vancouver's chief medical health officer says the federal government spent millions of dollars on an expensive antiviral drug because it wanted to reassure Canadians it was doing something to prevent a global flu pandemic.

Dr. John Blatherwick says the government should be stockpiling Tamiflu in powder form, by the barrel, instead of buying the drug in pill form, because the packaged pills have only a five-year shelf life. ...more

Toronto MD accused of withholding Vioxx data

From the Toronto Star:
A Toronto doctor is defending her work on a controversial study that helped put popular arthritis painkiller Vioxx on the market, after The New England Journal of Medicine yesterday publicly accused her and her co-authors of withholding critical heart attack data.

In an electronically published editorial, editors of the prestigious journal alleged that authors of the landmark $100 million study — which involved 8,000 people in 22 countries, including 300 Canadians, to measure the safety of Vioxx before it was allowed for sale — failed to included data on three heart attacks among subjects taking the drug. The three heart attacks occurred months before the study was published in the journal in November 2000, but were not disclosed during the revision process, the editors said. ...more

FDA heightens warning for Paxil

From the Edmonton Sun:
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is strengthening its warning that the antidepressant Paxil may be associated with birth defects, citing a new study that found babies born to women taking the drug had double the rate of heart defects of other infants.

The FDA announced yesterday it has asked manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline to reclassify the drug, which goes by the generic name paroxetine, as a "Category D" drug for pregnant women. The classification means that studies in pregnant women have shown a risk to the fetus. ...more

Friday, December 09, 2005

Paroxetine HCl - Paxil and generic paroxetine

From FDA Medwatch:
The FDA has determined that exposure to paroxetine in the first trimester of pregnancy may increase the risk for congenital malformations, particularly cardiac malformations. At the FDA’s request, the manufacturer has changed paroxetine’s pregnancy category from C to D and added new data and recommendations to the WARNINGS section of paroxetine’s prescribing information. FDA is awaiting the final results of the recent studies and accruing additional data related to the use of paroxetine in pregnancy in order to better characterize the risk for congenital malformations associated with paroxetine. ...more

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Diabetes association seeks price cap on drugs

From CBC News:
A national cap is needed on the cost of drugs and supplies that diabetics must pay for out of pocket, the Canadian Diabetes Association said Wednesday.

People with diabetes should not have to spend more than three per cent of their income to cover medication, supplies and devices, said the association's 2005 Diabetes Report.

Cost is a barrier to properly managing the disease, it said. More than two million Canadians have diabetes. ...more

Pharmacists told not to ask sexual history

From CTV Toronto:
Ontario pharmacists are being told to stop asking women about their sexual history before dispensing the so-called morning-after pill.

This comes in response to a request from the province's privacy commissioner.

Commissioner Ann Cavoukian says the Ontario College of Pharmacists has agreed to tell its members to not use a contentious voluntary screening form that asks sensitive questions. ...more

Diabetes association calls for catastrophic drug plan

From the Toronto Star:
Canada must implement a national catastrophic drug plan to help diabetics, whose out-of-pocket expenses for medicines and supplies vary widely across the country and jeopardize their ability to control the potentially life-threatening disease, says a report by the Canadian Diabetes Association.

"People with diabetes in Canada have difficulty accessing and affording the diabetes medications, devices and supplies they need to manage their disease and reduce their risk of very costly health complications," Dr. Karen Philp, the group's national director of public policy and government relations, said today in releasing the report. ...more

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Multiple forms of drugs causing errors

From the Monterey County (Calif.) Herald:
Dr. James Kmetzo knows that Diltiazem is usually the drug of choice for high blood pressure.

But then his choices explode. Cardizem, Dilacor and Tiazac are all brand names for Diltiazem. But should he prescribe Cardizem CD, Cardizem SR, Cardizem LA, Dilacor XR or Tiazac? All four come in varying doses, some taken once a day, some twice, some crushable, others not. ...more

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Health Canada warns consumers to return bottles of Euro-ASA 80 mg chewable tablets to place of purchase

From Health Canada:
Health Canada is warning consumers that two lots of Euro-ASA 80 mg orange flavoured, chewable tablets (Euro-ASA Chewable Tablet) lack child-resistant packaging, even though the label indicates the bottles are child resistant.

The orange-flavoured, chewable tablets may encourage children to ingest large quantities. Each bottle contains enough drug to seriously harm a child. ...more

Sunday, December 04, 2005

The lure of Canadian drugs may disappear

From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
Canadian pharmacists are likely to lose a big chunk of their $1 billion-a-year mail-order business when Americans on Medicare start getting taxpayer help paying for drugs starting next month.

"Our best guess is that we'll lose 15 to 25 percent of our American customers," said Robert Fraser, a Winnipeg pharmacist and a board member of the Canadian International Pharmacy Association.

That pleases druggists such as Harold Anderson of Hallock, Minn., who has been losing some business to Canada. Medicare won't help pay for the imported prescriptions. ...more

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Manitoba, Sask. clamp down on sale of meth ingredient

From CBC News:
Many common cold medications will no longer be available on pharmacy shelves in Saskatchewan and Manitoba as part of an effort to fight production of crystal meth.

Pseudoephedrine, the main ingredient in some cold medications, can be used to produce a version of methamphetamine, the highly addictive street drug crystal meth.

The medications, including common remedies such as Sudafed Decongestant and Benylin D for Infants, will be kept behind the counter and only doled out by a pharmacist in single purchases as of Jan. 15, said Theresa Oswald, Manitoba's healthy living minister. ...more

Morning-after pill privacy concerns raised

From the Toronto Star:
Canadian pharmacists are being advised to collect a woman's name, address, phone number and sensitive details about her sexual activity before dispensing the so-called morning-after pill.

The guidelines, put out by the Canadian Pharmacists Association, have drawn concern from women's health groups, which say the rules are discriminatory and raise privacy issues.

Anne Rochon Ford, co-ordinator of Women and Health Protection, a coalition of groups concerned about drug safety and funded by Health Canada, said she's not aware of any other behind-the-counter drug where pharmacists are asked to gather data before dispensing it, which "makes (the drug) look suspect and very loaded." ...more

Monday, November 28, 2005

Important Safety Information on the contraindication of Femara (letrozole) in premenopausal women

From Health Canada:
For health professionals...
For the public...

Merck closing Montreal plant, 235 jobs lost

From CBC News:
Merck Frosst Canada Ltd. will close its manufacturing plant in suburban Montreal and cut 235 jobs as part of a global restructuring that will see its parent slash 7,000 positions.

The company, which is the Canadian subsidiary of Merck & Co., said the jobs will be lost by the end of 2005, with the plant to shut down early in 2006. ...more

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Dosanjh to table bill banning bulk drug exports

Federal Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh is set to table legislation Friday to ban the bulk export of prescription drugs to the United States and set up an early warning system to detect drug shortages caused by the cross-border trade.

But after spending more than a year weighing his options, Dosanjh's bill will likely die before the ink has had time to dry if the government falls in a non-confidence motion expected to pass Monday. ...more

Pharmacists disciplined over Talwin & Ritalin sales

From CBC Saskatchewan:
Two pharmacists from Weyburn have been reprimanded for incompetence and professional misconduct after dispensing 17,000 Talwin and Ritalin pills that were used in an illegal drug-trafficking scheme.

According to the Saskatchewan College of Pharmacists' November newsletter, the trafficking was masterminded by a third person. The college disciplined the pharmacists, Robert Travis and Robert M. Jones, saying they should have been more careful to guard against "this type of abuse and misuse." ...more

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Billing seniors for drugs 'wasteful'

From the Vancouver Sun:
B.C.'s policy of making seniors pay a portion of their prescription drug costs actually ends up costing the health system more because patients skimp on medications and spend more time in doctors' offices and hospitals, according to a study today in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

A team of university and hospital-based B.C. researchers studied nearly 3,000 rheumatoid arthritis patients over age 65. ...more

Doctor's license suspended for writing Internet prescriptions

From the Boston Globe:
The state medical licensing board has suspended the license of a retired physician from Blue Hill for violating the board's policy on prescribing drugs over the Internet.

The Board of Licensure in Medicine suspended the license of Dr. Virginia Biddle, 76, out of concerns for patient safety, said Randall Manning, the board's executive director. Biddle has been writing hundreds of prescriptions a week for patients she has never met, he said. ...more

Task force to battle 'hillbilly heroin' problem

The increased use and growing addiction problems related to the prescription medicine OxyContin is effecting so many people, a task force has been established in the city to tackle it before "things get completely out of control."

OxyContin is a synthetic opiate prescribed for pain relief. In recent years, people looking for a cheap high have crushed the pills and used them as a replacement for heroin, thus its street name "hillbilly heroin." ...more

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Canadians and health care

A new survey by Pollara reveals surprising results ...more

Health Canada warns consumers not to use certain lots of GenTeal Gel due to potential health risk

From Health Canada:
Health Canada is warning consumers not to use certain lots of GenTeal Gel, 3.5mL and 10 mL, a lubricant eye gel, due to the risk of serious eye infection. There is a risk that the product may not be sterile.

A voluntary recall of the affected lots listed below has been initiated by the distributor, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Rx to boost her sex life

From the New York Daily News:
Viagra rejuvenated a generation of limp lotharios, but a new love drug called PT-141 could be as good for the goose as it is for the gander.

Just a snort or two from a nasal inhaler is enough to stoke up the sexual fires of both women and men, and often within minutes, Canadian scientists say.

And sexperts say the drug, which is undergoing final trials before beginning a federal Food and Drug Administration review, will be the boon to women with desire disorders that Viagra was for many impotent men. ...more

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Drug blocks hunger message in brain

From the Globe and Mail:
A drug that suppresses appetite -- working on the same part of the brain that produces the "stone munchies" in those who smoke pot -- not only causes weight loss but also significantly improves cholesterol levels, a Canadian-led international study has found.

In the study of more than 1,000 overweight and obese patients with high blood-fat levels, the experimental drug rimonabant caused pounds to melt off waistlines, reduced the amount of triglycerides in blood and boosted HDL, the so-called good cholesterol. ...more

Medicine combinations risky for the heart, doctors say

From the Globe and Mail:
Patients taking prescription medications for heart disease should tell their doctors about any alternative medicines they might be popping because certain combinations could be dangerous, cardiologists say.

"You have to be careful and you have to talk to your doctor and your pharmacist about all complementary or alternative therapies, including vitamins," said Dr. Beth Abramson, a heart specialist at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto. "Anything we ingest can potentially interact with heart pills. ...more

Health Canada looking at Tamiflu data after reports of deaths in Japan

From the Canadian Press:
Health Canada said it is going over the safety data for the flu drug oseltamivir or Tamiflu after reports have come to light of a number of deaths in children in Japan who took the drug.

A spokesman said such a study is always undertaken when there are reports of potential adverse reactions to a drug. "It's being looked at," Jirina Vlk said from Ottawa. "It would be stretching it to say we're ordering a review." ...more

Diet drug found to cut cholesterol and belly fat

A drug that curbs food cravings has been found to help users lose weight and raise good cholesterol. But researchers are cautioning that it is not a miracle drug.

A new Canadian study shows the drug rimonabant, known by the trade name Acomplia, will likely become a new contender in the war against obesity by helping patients lose dangerous abdominal fat and reduce the risk factors than can lead to heart disease and diabetes.

In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study of more than 1,000 overweight or obese patients, rimonabant, at its highest dose, produced a weight loss of an average 15 pounds (6.7 kg) over a year. ...more

Birth-control drug a hard pill for U.S. agency to swallow

From the Globe and Mail:
This past spring, Health Canada announced without fanfare that Plan B, the morning-after pill that is used as an emergency contraceptive after unprotected sex, would in future be available to Canadian women without a prescription.

"Women who need this product must have access to it very quickly or it will not be effective," Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh said after Health Canada completed a review of clinical evidence and safety data for the drug. ...more

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Big Pharma's big headache: Beating back the generics

From the Globe and Mail:
If you want to get an idea of the biggest challenge facing Big Pharma, just take a look at Pfizer Inc., the world's biggest drug maker, and Lipitor, the world's best-selling drug, which contributed $11-billion (U.S.) of the company's $52-billion in sales last year.

Any day now, Judge Joseph Farnan of the U.S. District Court of Delaware will rule on a case brought by India's generic giant Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd. to invalidate the patents on Lipitor, which is prescribed to lower cholesterol levels in the blood. If Pfizer prevails, as it did in a British court recently, its patents would stand until 2011. But the prevailing view on Wall Street is that anything is possible because of differences in British and U.S. patent law. ...more

Birth control patch health warning issued

From CBC News:
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning about a birth control patch used by millions of women, saying its high hormone levels could increase their health risks.

Ortho-McNeil Inc. acknowledged Thursday that its Ortho Evra patch exposes women to 60 per cent more estrogen than other forms of birth control because of the way bodies absorb the hormone. ...more

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Health Canada warns consumers not to use GenTeal Artificial Tears due to potential health risk

From Health Canada:
Health Canada is warning consumers not to use Lot 51436 of the product Genteal Artificial Tears 25 ml due to possible contamination with bacteria. A recall of the affected lot has been initiated by the distributor, Novartis.

Use of eye drops contaminated with bacteria may cause serious eye infection. People who are immune suppressed, such as those with HIV/AIDS, or who are undergoing chemotherapy or taking drugs which cause immune suppression may be at a higher risk for infection. ...more

Roche plans 10-fold increase in Tamiflu

From USA Today:
Roche Holding said Monday that will be able to produce 300 million treatments of Tamiflu in 2007, marking the first time the Swiss drugmaker has disclosed specific annual production plans for its increasingly-popular antiviral drug.

Tamiflu, which reduces flu symptoms, is being stockpiled by countries as a potential treatment if a worldwide flu pandemic occurs. Governments and health officials have pressed Roche to license manufacturing rights to other companies so that supplies can be increased faster. ...more

Eye drops recalled for possible contamination

From CBC News:
A batch of Genteal Artificial Tears is being recalled by its distributor because of possible contamination with bacteria, Health Canada said Monday.

"Use of eye drops contaminated with bacteria may cause serious eye infection," the department's advisory said. "People who are immune suppressed, such as those with HIV/AIDS, or who are undergoing chemotherapy or taking drugs which cause immune suppression may be at a higher risk for infection." ...more

FDA moving in on drug pipeline

From the Springfield (MO) News Leader:
Across the country, from Springfield to Florida and elsewhere, people are opening their mail to find letters from government regulators instead of the medicine they were expecting.

Charles Barker, 75, for example, goes to Melbourne, Fla., every few weeks to pick up his mail-order prescription medications. He gets them from Canada to save more than $300 a month. ...more

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

State decides not to appeal over prescription drug case

From the Boston Globe:
Vermont has dropped its legal effort to force the Bush administration to allow the state to import cheaper prescription drugs from Canada.

"We could have continued the fight," said Attorney General William Sorrell. "We just didn't think that it was going to be successful."

Vermont filed the suit a little more than a year ago. It claimed the federal Food and Drug Administration's refusal of the state's petition to import drugs from Canada was "arbitrary and capricious and otherwise unreasonable." ...more

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Canadian lawyers involved in Vioxx lawsuits not phased by result of U.S. trial

From the Canadian Press:
Canadian lawyers involved in countrywide lawsuits against drug company Merck said their cases won't be affected by a U.S. jury ruling Thursday that found the pharmaceutical giant and its one-time wonder-drug Vioxx not liable for a man's heart attack.

It will change the path of a recently launched class action suit in Nova Scotia "not one iota," said lead counsel Matt Napier. "We don't perceive it as having any effect on our suit in the jurisdiction of Nova Scotia," he said. ...more

Measure ties US negotiator's hands on drug imports

From the Washington Post:
The U.S. Trade Representative could no longer craft trade deals making it harder to import American-made pharmaceuticals from nations such as Canada under a measure approved by congressional negotiators on Friday.

The compromise legislation is aimed at keeping the rancorous issue of drug reimportation out of trade pacts the United States reaches with other countries. ...more

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Pharmacists applaud plan to control access to meth ingredient

From CBC Manitoba:
Manitoba pharmacists are welcoming the government's clampdown on the sale of cold medications that can be used to make crystal methamphetamine.

The province announced Tuesday that, as part of a strategy to prevent the proliferation of crystal meth, cold medications with pseudoephedrine as the main ingredient will only be sold in limited amounts from behind the counter at pharmacies. Currently, some cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine are found on store shelves, not only in drug stores but also at grocery and convenience stores. ...more

Council Approves Canadian Drug Bill

From the Washington Times:
The Montgomery County Council approved a bill yesterday requiring officials to give county employees the option to purchase lower-cost prescription drugs from Canada -- or anyplace else they can find a good deal.

The bill was approved despite continued warnings from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that the county was on the verge of violating federal law and risked being sued.

The proposal, which affects 12,500 county employees and retirees, requires County Executive Douglas M. Duncan (D) to participate in a program established by the council last year. ...more

Say bye-bye to Canadian drug buys

From the Pawtucket (RI) Times:
Rhode Island’s brief experiment with licensing Canadian pharmacies to dispense cheaper prescription drugs here is apparently over before it started.

"It’s more or less a dead issue," Don Williams, the state Department of Health’s associate director for health services regulation said on Tuesday.
The General Assembly passed a measure in 2004 allowing DOH to license drug stores from Canada to sell pharmaceuticals in Rhode Island and Gov. Donald Carcieri allowed it to become law without his signature. But regulations promulgated by DOH to assure the quality and safety of the medicines made it too burdensome and expensive to be worthwhile to any pharmacies north of the border. ...more

Council votes to offer imported medicine

From the Maryland Business Gazette:
The County Council voted 6-2 Tuesday to offer county employees imported prescription drugs.

The final vote, the culmination of more than 18 months of debate, came as no surprise as five of the council members casting the ‘‘yes” votes had signed on as co-sponsors to the original legislation proposed by council President Thomas E. Perez (D-Dist. 5) of Takoma Park. ...more

Monday, October 31, 2005

Roche suspends Tamiflu delivery to Canadian pharmacists

From the Brandon Sun:
Swiss drug giant Hoffman-La Roche moved to temporarily suspend pharmacy sales of its drug Tamiflu in Canada on Tuesday to conserve stocks as flu season nears.

It also issued a companywide directive that supplies of the drug destined for the public market worldwide should be prioritized for use as treatment for seasonal flu. ...more

Emergency contraceptives now more available

From the Nunasiaq News:
Women in Nunavut have new levels of access to emergency contraceptives, commonly known as the “morning after” pill.

If taken within 72 hours after sex, emergency contraceptives can cut the risk of pregnancy by as much as 89 per cent.

Health Canada announced that women across the country would be able to get emergency contraceptives without a doctor’s prescription in the spring of 2004. The drugs rolled out slowly across Canada as pharmacists received special training so they could dispense the pill safely. ...more

West faces barriers in restricting meth ingredients

From the Edmonton Sun:
Getting the western provinces and territories to agree on a plan to restrict sales of cold medicine used to make crystal meth hasn’t been as easy as planned, says Saskatchewan’s new minister for addiction services.

In June, western Canadian politicians at a conference called by Premier Lorne Calvert agreed to come up with a plan by Oct. 1 to put restrictions on the sale of medicines containing ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. Both are used in making the highly addictive crystal methamphetamine.

Canadian drug market lags

The daily publicity over importing prescription drugs from Canada has quieted this year, but cheap drugs from Canada are still bought and sold in Sacramento.

A small storefront on Arden Way that's linked to a pharmacy in Winnipeg has processed 5,500 prescriptions since it opened 18 months ago. At least two other outlets still help local folks buy inexpensive medicine from Canada. ...more

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Prescription pipeline from Canada steadily drying up

From Florida Today:
Charles Barker, 75, comes to Melbourne every few weeks to pick up his mail-order prescription medications.

Parker gets them from Canada to save more than $300 a month. He lived in Palm Bay for more than 50 years but is moving to the Panhandle.

When he checked his post office box recently, though, he didn't get his three-month supply of glaucoma medicine. Instead, he found a letter from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration saying his medicine had been confiscated. ...more

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Canada to increase antiviral stockpile with more Tamiflu, other drugs

From the Canadian Press:
Canada will be increasing its stockpile of antiviral drugs to protect against a possible flu pandemic, with additional purchases of Tamiflu and new purchases of the drug Relenza, the country's chief medical officer of health said Tuesday.

Dr. David Butler-Jones told The Canadian Press some provinces have intentions to buy an additional five million pills - or 500,000 treatment courses - of the drug oseltamivir, sold as Tamiflu, over the next two fiscal years. ...more

No plan yet on crystal meth ingredients

From CBC Saskatchewan:
In June, Western Canadian politicians in Regina for a crystal-meth conference said they'd work out a plan to control ingredients used to make the street drug.

The deadline for coming up with specifics for restricting the sale of cold medications containing ephedrine and pseudoephedrine was Oct. 1.

However, weeks after that date there's still no agreement. ...more

Tamiflu sales temporarily on hold in Canada

From CTV News:
A higher-than-normal increase in demand has forced the Canadian drug maker of Tamiflu to temporarily pull it off the market, amid growing concerns over an imminent flu pandemic.

Oseltamivir, sold as Tamiflu, is an antiviral medication that is widely considered to be the best defence against the spread of a bird flu pandemic.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Diet drug may go over the counter

From Newsday (NY):
Drugstore shelves are brimming with shakes, herbs and other products to facilitate weight loss — but the vast majority of them have not been shown to work. It's possible that a proven medication that helps modestly with weight loss may join their ranks next year.

The pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline has asked the Food and Drug Administration for permission to sell a low-dose version of its diet drug Xenical over the counter. If approved, Xenical would be the first weight loss medication to make the switch from prescription to nonprescription status. ...more

Important Safety Information on Flomax (tamsulosin) and Intraoperative Floppy Iris Syndrome (IFIS)

From Health Canada:
This communication is to inform you of a surgical condition termed Intraoperative Floppy Iris Syndrome (IFIS)1 that has been observed during phacoemulsification cataract surgery in some patients currently or recently treated with alpha -1 blocker therapy. This variant of small pupil syndrome is characterised by the combination of a flaccid iris that billows in response to intraoperative irrigation currents, progressive intraoperative miosis despite preoperative dilation with standard mydriatic drugs, and potential prolapse of the iris toward the phacoemulsification incisions. ...more

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Key Nevada lawmakers push Canadian drug plan

From the Las Vegas Sun:
Two lawmakers who had key roles in developing a new state law to let Nevadans buy lower-priced prescription drugs from Canada have urged the attorney general's office to produce an opinion that doesn't undercut the law.

In a letter to Attorney General Brian Sandoval, Assembly Majority Leader Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, and Sen. Joe Heck, R-Henderson, said the opinion should reflect state lawmakers' intent to help Nevadans get "safe prescription drugs at fair prices." ...more

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Pharmacists lead the charge

From 24 Hours Vancouver:
The provincial New Democrats and Liberals don't agree on much. In fact, you don't even want to be in the same room with them if the issue of privatization or labour relations comes up.

But both sides of the house seem to agree tobacco sales should be banned in pharmacies ...more

Plenty of anti-viral drugs in storage

From the Ottawa Sun:
The federal Public Health Agency has stockpiled 23 million doses of an anti-viral drug as part of its overall preparedness plan against the next pandemic breakout.

"One of the activities of preparing for the next pandemic is creating a national anti-viral stockpile ... and the stockpile is of the brand name Tamiflu," said agency spokesman Aggie Adamczyk yesterday. ...more

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Bill would open door to Canadian imports

From the Gazette (MD):
Government officials, banking on millions in possible savings, took steps this week to allow county employees to buy cheaper medications from Canada.

On Tuesday, the County Council introduced legislation that would direct the county’s Department of Human Resources to offer a prescription drug benefit that would be supplied by ‘‘domestic or foreign pharmacy benefit managers.” ...more

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Some asthma drugs used improperly may increase risk of death: Health Canada

From the Canadian Press:
A class of asthma drugs known as long-acting beta-2 agonists may increase the risk of death if used improperly, Health Canada warned Tuesday.

The drugs are prescribed to prevent asthma symptoms such as wheezing, shortness of breath and cough.

Based on data from a large patient trial, Health Canada said the danger of asthma-related death may be greater in patients taking long-acting beta-2 agonists without using inhaled corticosteroids at the same time. ...more

The Globe and Mail: Katz writing new prescription for success

From the Globe and Mail:
Drug-store retailer Katz Group Canada Ltd. is fixing for a fight with industry top dog Shoppers Drug Mart Corp. by borrowing a page from the Shoppers book on merchandising.

Katz is trying to simplify its grab bag of chains, which operate under Pharma Plus, Rexall and other banners, and wants to make the Rexall brand the unifying force for its network of about 1,900 pharmacies. ...more

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Safety information about a class of asthma drugs known as long-acting beta-2 agonists

From Health Canada:
Health Canada is advising Canadians of the possible increased risks of asthma-related deaths associated with the use of a class of asthma drugs known as long-acting beta-2 agonists. Further, Health Canada is reminding Canadians of the recommended uses of long-acting beta-2 agonists.

The asthma medications are salmeterol, which is sold under the brand name Serevent; formoterol, sold as Foradil and Oxeze; as well as two combination products containing salmeterol or formoterol in addition to an inhaled corticosteroid. The combination product with salmeterol is sold as Advair, while the formoterol product is sold as Symbicort. ...more

Few are using I-SaveRx for prescriptions

From the Bloomington (Ill.) Pantagraph:
A controversial plan to connect Illinoisans with low-priced prescription drugs from outside of the United States has not drawn huge numbers of participants.

But, on the eve of the first anniversary of the I-SaveRx program, Gov. Rod Blagojevich deemed the program a success. ...more

Sunday, October 02, 2005

India co. to sell generic drugs in Canada

From the Seattle Post Intelligencer:
India's largest drug company announced Thursday it was entering the Canadian generic drug market with the launch of a subsidiary called Ranbaxy Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc.

Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd. said the firm already had regulatory approval to sell eight products and four others were awaiting approval. ...more

Sask. tops in prescriptions

From the Regina Leader Post:
Saskatchewan families are the biggest spenders when it comes to out-of-pocket prescription drug purchases, according to a Statistics Canada study.

The study looked at household spending on prescription drugs between 1992 and 2002. Saskatchewan families spent an average of $415 on medications in 2002, the highest in Canada. < href="">...more

New pandemic flu drug formulas gathering dust on shelves for lack of funds

From the Canadian Press:
Formulas for new, inexpensive influenza drugs that could expand the world's tiny arsenal of weapons against pandemic flu are gathering dust because the pharmaceutical industry isn't interested in developing them, scientists say.

They believe governments should fund the testing and development of the drugs, side-stepping big pharma and bringing them to market as cheap generic medications. ...more

Canadian Rx costs will retain appeal

From the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press:

In every crowd that gathers to discuss Medicare's upcoming prescription drug benefit, there is one person who asks, "What about Canada?"

Seniors in Minnesota, especially, have used bus trips and Internet pharmacies to buy prescription drugs from north of the border — often saving 20 percent to 60 percent.

Insurers will begin selling the Medicare Part D plans on Saturday — offering much-awaited savings on U.S. drugs. But analysts Thursday said Canadian drugs may still be cheaper and predicted that many seniors will stick with the imports. ...more

Counterfeit Viagra bust supplies ammo for online pharmacy critics

From the National Post:
The case of an online pharmacy accused of selling bootleg Viagra to Americans is a prime example of why Canada should shut down the country's Internet drug-dispensing business, critics of the industry said Wednesday.

Online pharmacists, on the other hand, said the bust announced this week proves the system works. ...more

Plan for imported prescription drugs put on hold

From the Las Vegas SUN:
Nevada's plan to allow residents to buy lower-priced prescription drugs from Canada has hit a snag that could stop the program from taking effect.

The program approved by the Legislature this year has been put on hold while officials await an attorney general's opinion, which will determine if it goes forward.

At issue is a section of the new drug law that says a Canadian pharmacy shall not sell to a Nevada resident a drug that has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. ...more

Forget SARS, West Nile, Ebola and avian flu. The real epidemic is fear.

From Macleans:
Gregory Fields is a pharmaceutical maverick. He calls his company, Canadian Drug Delivery, based in Nanaimo, B.C., an "online pharmacy intermediary," which means, if you're looking for the best price on medication -- anything from Amoxicillan to Zoloft -- Fields will comb the globe to find it and have it shipped to your home. In some cases, you won't even need a prescription. Suddenly, business has exploded, and it's all thanks to one pill -- an antiviral called Tamiflu that's selling like candy. ...more

New prescription tracking system unveiled

From the Saskatoon Star Phoenix:
The Saskatchewan government is rolling out a program that gives doctors and pharmacists access to the complete prescription-drug histories of their patients.

The $7- million tracking system comes out of an inquest into overdose death of Darcy Dean Ironchild about five years ago. ...more

Watch move to more over-the-counter drugs, pharmacists urge

Switching emergency contraception or cholesterol-lowering drugs to over-the-counter status carries potential risks and benefits, pharmacists say.

Health Canada is changing its rules for the emergency contraception drug levonorgestrel, also known as Plan B, to allow women to access the drug from a pharmacist without a prescription. ...more

Important Safety Information on Strattera (atomoxetine hydrochloride) and the potential for behavioral and emotional changes, including risk of self-harm

From Health Canada:
For the public...
For health professionals...

Pharmacists becoming proactive with new Meth Watch Program

From the Kenora (Ont.) Daily Miner and News:
Pharmacists are on the look out for makers of methamphetamine.

On his first stop on an Ontario information tour, Marc Kealey, chief executive officer of the Ontario Pharmacists Association, said Tuesday that pharmacists throughout Ontario are being trained to watch for people buying excessive amounts of ingredients used to make crystal meth.

“Most of the ingredients to make meth can be purchased at a pharmacy,” he said. “This is a family issue, that’s why it’s become so important to us.” ...more

Pharmacist charged after fake Viagra found

From the Globe and Mail:
An Ontario pharmacist is facing charges for allegedly selling bootleg Viagra.

The man and his two pharmacies are charged with 11 offences under the Criminal Code, the Food and Drugs Act, and the Customs Act.

The RCMP say the charges follow a six-month investigation, launched after border agents found two suspect shipments earlier this year. ...more

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Feds say druggist sold counterfeit Viagra

The RCMP have charged a Toronto-area pharamacist and two of his companies with selling counterfeit Viagra.

It was not immediately clear whether the drug was chemically identical to Pfizer's famous blue pill (active ingredient: sildenafil citrate) or whether it worked.

In a statement announcing the charges, Health Canada described the drug as counterfeit and said the pharmacist was accused of violating the Food and Drugs Act and its regulations. In a separate statement, the Ontario College of Pharmacists described the offence as "the alleged importing, packaging and distribution of a drug containing [an] unapproved version of Viagra." ...more

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Latest on Canadian Prescription Drug Bill

From KLAS-TV (Nev.):
Thousands of people in the United States buy prescription drugs from Canada. It's illegal, but it happens everyday. During the last session Nevada lawmakers passed a bill paving the way for residents to buy prescription drugs from Canada legally. The governor signed it.

Eyewitness News 8 reporter Edward Lawrence traveled to Vancouver, British Columbia with the Nevada State Board of Pharmacy. ...more

Vt. drug lawsuit tossed out

From the Barre Montpelier (Vermont) Times Argus:
A federal judge has dismissed Vermont's first-in-the-nation lawsuit against the Bush administration seeking permission to set up a prescription drug importation program.

U.S. District Judge William Sessions, in an opinion filed late Monday, acknowledged that the federal government didn't violate the law when it refused to allow Vermont to establish such a program. ...more

Ranbaxy set to launch Canadian operations

From Sify (India):
Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd is expanding its geographical presence to Canada by setting up a wholly owned subsidiary in that market.

Along with this, the company also hopes to launch its new anti-malaria drug in the next 3-4 years. ...more

Panel rejects U.S.-style registry for acne drug

From the Globe and Mail:
There is no need for Canada to follow the U.S. lead and create a registry of patients taking an anti-acne drug that causes severe birth defects, an expert advisory panel has told Health Canada.

In its question-and-answer report posted on Health Canada's website this week, the 10-member panel said it "unanimously rejected" the notion of a U.S.-style registry, which requires enrolment by thousands of American patients taking isotretinoin, the doctors who prescribe the drug and the pharmacists who dispense it. ...more

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Canadian online pharmacies a better deal for meds

From Reuters:
Americans could save hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year on brand-name prescription drugs if they use a Canadian Internet pharmacy instead of their local drug store, researchers reported Monday.

On average, their study found, Americans could save 24 percent on their prescriptions if they shopped at an online Canadian pharmacy rather than a U.S. drug chain. Depending on the type of drug and how many prescriptions a person has, the savings could add up to hundreds or thousands of dollars a year.

The findings, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, add to the contentious issue of U.S. consumers' "importation" of medications from Canada, where the government sets price controls on prescriptions. ...more

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Canadian Pharmacies to Sell Medical Marijuana

From Join Together:
Starting in early 2006, Canadians who want to use marijuana for medical purposes will be able to purchase the drug at select pharmacies, the Canadian Press reported Sept. 14. ...more

New anti-psychotic drugs worrying, study shows

From theGlobe and Mail:
Sales of anti-psychotic medications have soared in recent years, spurred by the arrival of a new generation of drugs that promised relief from symptoms of dementia with fewer side effects.

But a new Canadian study shows that the new, more expensive drugs -- known as atypical anti-psychotics -- have the same problems as their predecessors, notably causing Parkinson's-like symptoms. ...more

Consumer Reports: Buying Canadian drugs: Same as in the U.S.?

From the Asbury Park (NJ) Press:
Although the practice is widespread -- and actually abetted by several U.S. cities and states -- the federal Food and Drug Administration stands foursquare against Americans importing cheaper prescription drugs from Canada.

And not because it's illegal. (Individuals who order prescriptions from Canadian Web sites may be violating the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, although the FDA says it has no plans to prosecute them.) Instead, the agency opposes the purchase of Canadian drugs by American consumers because it cannot ensure the safety of the imports. ...more

Important safety information on Duragesic (fentanyl transdermal system)

From Health Canada:
Janssen-Ortho Inc., in collaboration with Health Canada, wishes to highlight important safety information about the safe use of DURAGESIC. The Canadian Product Monograph for DURAGESIC has been revised to emphasize this safety information, and contains a section with Consumer Information to ensure that patients and their caregivers are aware of the guidelines for the safe use of DURAGESIC. For the public...

Janssen-Ortho Inc., in consultation with Health Canada, wishes to highlight certain important safety information for the safe and appropriate prescribing and use of DURAGESIC* (fentanyl transdermal system). For health professionals...

Jean Coutu says pharmacists who take salespeoples' gifts should declare them

From the Canadian Press:
There is nothing wrong with pharmacists taking gifts from drug companies as long as the gifts are declared on their income taxes, Jean Coutu, founder and chairman of the giant drugstore chain that bears his name, said Thursday.

"That's the way it's done," Coutu said after the annual meeting of Jean Coutu Group Inc. "These (generic drug) companies have money for promotions; they can be done the right and the wrong way," said Coutu, a pharmacist who still owns and works in his own drugstore in downtown Montreal. ...more

Sex toys coming soon to drugstore near you

From the Globe and Mail:
Better believe it. Shoppers Drug Mart, the country's largest drugstore chain, Wal-Mart Canada and a slew of other stores have entered into agreements to stock their shelves, coast to coast, with a new line of sex toys, discreetly called "sexual well-being products."

The move is especially surprising for Wal-Mart, which doesn't sell video games rated "adult-only" and recently removed a magazine from one of its stores after a customer complained that it was too sexual. ...more

Friday, September 16, 2005

Canadian confidence in health care dips

From the Globe and Mail:
A year after the first ministers confidently emerged from a conference with a 10-year plan to fix the health-care system, many Canadians are starting to lose their optimism that governments will meet that goal, a survey has found.

A poll released Thursday by the Canadian Medical Association and Ipsos-Reid found that on the one-year anniversary of the plan, 54 per cent of Canadians are less hopeful about the future of health care services in their community than they were in 2004. ...more

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Most-needy heart failure patients least likely to get drugs

From the Globe and Mail:
Heart failure patients at the greatest risk of death are the least likely to be prescribed drugs that could prolong their lives, according to new Canadian research.

Scientists are at a loss to explain this paradox, particularly since there is ample evidence that the sickest patients benefit most from the host of drugs that are the mainstay of treatment.

"The million-dollar question is: 'Why is this happening?' " Douglas Lee, a research fellow at the Toronto-based Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, said in an interview. ...more

Pandemic flu fear propels vaccine sector

From the Globe and Mail:
From sleepy dowager a few years ago to high flier today, the vaccine industry is going full-out to expand manufacturing capacity to meet growing demand for flu shots and a possible pandemic.

In recent weeks, Novartis AG has bid $4.5-billion (U.S.) for the 58 per cent of drug and flu vaccine maker Chiron Corp. of Emeryville, Calif., that it doesn't already own, and GlaxoSmithKline PLC has agreed to acquire ID Biomedical Corp. of Vancouver for $1.4-billion. ...more

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Canadian ships unload relief supplies

From the National Post:
...As tents, blankets, cases of bottled water, boxes of sunscreen and insect repellent were unloaded, 15 Canadian Forces medics boarded one of the frigates. Their purpose, McFadden said, will be to make sure that local residents are "clean, healthy and cared for."

However, because of U.S. drug laws, they will not be allowed to dispense any medicine to civilians... ...more
(Editor's note: Can anyone explain the reasoning that the Canadian military cannot fill prescriptions for Americans during this time of crisis? It mentions U.S. drug laws. Is this related to their state pharmacy laws, or is it because the ship's pharmacy is stocked with "unapproved Canadian product?" If anyone has insight, contact us at

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Health Canada pulling schizophrenia drug

From CTV News:
Health Canada is stopping manufacturers from selling thioridazine, an anti-psychotic medication used to treat schizophrenia, by the end of this month.

Thioridazine will continue to be dispensed by pharmacies during a transition period after Sept. 30 to allow patients time to consult their doctors and switch to an alternative medication, Health Canada said Thursday in a release. ...more

Important Safety Information on Oxeze (formoterol fumarate dihydrate) Turbuhaler

From Health Canada:
AstraZeneca Canada Inc. in consultation with Health Canada would like to update you on the outcomes of the US FDA Pulmonary-Allergy Drugs Advisory Committee (PADAC) meeting held on July 13, 2005 to review the safety of the long-acting beta agonists salmeterol and formoterol. ...more

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Pharmacist faces charges

From the Mississauga (Ont.) News:
A Mississauga pharmacist is facing criminal charges over allegations he sold counterfeit heart medication to patients.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) announced the charges Friday, saying a pharmacist dispensed counterfeit Norvasc, a medication for high blood pressure and angina.

Police launched an investigation in June after a woman thought her pill didn't look right and contacted the drug company, Pfizer Canada. ...more

Pfizer Wins Panel Backing for First Inhaled Insulin

From Bloomberg:
Pfizer Inc., the world's biggest drugmaker, won a U.S. committee's support for the first inhaled insulin as an alternative to needles for 4 million American diabetics.

A panel of doctors and statisticians voted 7-2 today to advise the Food and Drug Administration to clear Exubera, developed by Nektar Therapeutics, Pfizer and Sanofi-Aventis SA, for use in people with both juvenile and adult-onset diabetes. The agency usually follows the advice of its committees. ...more
(Editor's Note: I have not found anything regarding news of a Canadian drug application for Exubera.)

The Globe and Mail: Hypertension new childhood scourge

From the Globe and Mail:
Adryan Zorec's parents were going through a breakup and he was stressed, so he took solace in food -- chips and pop, mainly -- and started packing on the pounds.

By 12, he weighed in at 170 pounds, though he wasn't yet 5 feet tall.

During a routine visit, Adryan's doctor took his blood pressure. It was 140/90 millimetres of mercury -- in the same ballpark as a middle-aged couch potato with a beer belly. ...more

Drug that carries radiation to cells offers hope for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma

From the Canadian Press:
An injectable liquid that delivers tiny radioactive "smart bombs" directly to cancer cells is showing great promise in treating patients with some types of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, Canadian doctors say.

The drug, described as a "liquid radiotherapy," caused tumour reduction in 80 per cent of patients whose non-Hodgkin's lymphoma either did not respond to traditional chemotherapy or had recurred, a U.S. clinical trial has shown. Thirty per cent of those patients achieved full remission. ...more

Expensive cancer drugs get approval

From the Globe and Mail:
Two colorectal cancer drugs received Health Canada approval yesterday, opening the door for provincial governments to fund the costly medications.

Avastin, a first-line treatment for incurable colorectal cancer, and Erbitux, which shrinks tumours in some patients, were approved for use against the second-biggest cause of cancer death in Canada, Health Canada spokeswoman Jirina Vlk confirmed yesterday. ...more

Thursday, September 08, 2005

'New' drugs too often offer little new

From the Globe and Mail:
In 2004, prescription-drug spending in Canada rose to a staggering $18-billion a year (not including the $1.3-billion in prescription drugs dispensed in hospitals). In 1985, prescription drug spending was only $2.6-billion annually.

In the past decade alone, drug spending has doubled, to the point where Canadians now spend more money on prescription drugs than on physician services. ...more

Health Canada pulling schizophrenia drug

From CTV News:
Health Canada is stopping manufacturers from selling thioridazine, an anti-psychotic medication used to treat schizophrenia, by the end of this month.

Thioridazine will continue to be dispensed by pharmacies during a transition period after Sept. 30 to allow patients time to consult their doctors and switch to an alternative medication, Health Canada said Thursday in a release. ...more

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Former pharmacy worker upset with ruling

From the London Free Press:
A London whistleblower who complained about the practices at a city pharmacy has lost his case before the Ontario Health Professions Appeal and Review Board.

"The decision to me doesn't make a lot of sense," said Darcy O'Neil, a former employee of Canadian Apothecary. ...more

Prescription drugs: The facts about Canada

From Consumer Reports:
Even though the practice is illegal, Americans in droves have been importing prescription drugs from Canada. Last year, an estimated 2 million U.S. citizens spent $800 million on medicines purchased from Canadian pharmacies by fax, phone, or Web site. That's 33 percent more than in 2003. A long list of states and cities, including Kansas, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Boston, and Portland, Maine, have set up programs to help residents and employees import Canadian drugs priced on average 25 to 50 percent below those on the U.S. market. ...more

Seven Canadian pharmacies endorsed for Nevada licenses

From the Las Vegas SUN:
Seven Canadian pharmacies were tentatively endorsed Wednesday for licensing that will enable them to sell prescription drugs to Nevadans - a process approved by the 2005 Legislature to make such drugs more affordable.

The state Board of Pharmacy, meeting in Reno, denied three other Canadian pharmacies, two because they hadn't completely filled out their applications and one because it wasn't properly licensed in its home province. ...more

Friday, September 02, 2005

New Money from Old Drugs

From Red Herring:
Old drugs with minor variations, and therefore new patents, are behind the massive growth in spending on prescription medicines in developed countries, but do not offer substantial improvements over cheaper generic drugs, according to scientists at the University of British Columbia in Canada.

Known as “me-too” drugs, these medicines on average cost twice the price of the original brand-name drugs they are based on, and four times that of generic versions of the original drug. ...more

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Canada drug provision on hold

From the Houston Chronicle:
A new state law designed to help Texans buy less expensive prescription drugs from Canada has been put on hold while state lawyers address a complaint from the federal government that it violates federal law governing drug imports.

The provision, part of a broader law that goes into effect Thursday, directs the Texas State Board of Pharmacy to provide information on a Web site to assist consumers in ordering drugs from as many as 10 designated Canadian pharmacies. ...more

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Important Safety Information on Iressa (gefitinib) 250 mg Tablets

From Health Canada:
Health Canada recommends restricting the indication for IRESSA® to patients whose tumours are EGFR expression status positive or unknown......more

Study shows newer drug saves more lives in adult severe malaria cases

From the Canadian Press:
Treating adults with severe cases of malaria with the drug artesunate - rather than quinine - could save tens of thousands of lives in the developing world, new research suggests.

A study reported this week in the Lancet medical journal shows for the first time that artesunate is better at saving lives than the standard medication, quinine, reducing the chance of death from malaria by 35 per cent. ...more

New Brunswick leads Atlantic Canada for oxycodone use

From the Globe and Mail:
Although it was Newfoundland and Nova Scotia that first raised alarms about the abuse of so-called "hillbilly heroin" in Atlantic Canada, it is New Brunswick that accounts for most of the prescriptions for the highly addictive painkiller oxycodone, a new Health Canada report says.

During the first six months of 2005, more than 92,500 prescriptions were filled for oxycodone-based painkillers such as OxyContin at 651 retail pharmacies throughout the Atlantic provinces. ...more

Canadian pharmacies in Nevada

From the Pahrump Valley Times (Nev.):
Ten Canadian pharmacies have applied for licenses from the Nevada Board of Pharmacy to sell prescription drugs, which state officials herald as a more affordable market for cash-strapped Nevadans.

Nevada officials should have the state-approved Canadian pharmacies listed on the Governor's office for Consumer Health Assistance Web site by late September, the board of pharmacy's general counsel said Monday. ...more

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Toronto Pharmacist and Son Charged With Defrauding Ontario Drug Benefits Plan

From Halifax Live:
Officers from the Ontario Provincial Police, Anti-Rackets, Health Fraud Investigation Team in cooperation with Toronto Police Service, 52 Division Vice Section charged a Toronto Pharmacist and her son with fraud as part of an intensive investigation into fraudulent claims being made to the Ontario Drug Benefits Plan. ...more

Health Canada agrees to let yanked ADHD Adderall back on Canadian market

From the Brandon Sun:
A drug for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder that was forced off the market last February by Health Canada is being reinstated after an expert panel declared it was of no greater risk than other medications for the disorder.

Adderall XR will be reinstated on the Canadian market effective this Friday, but it will take a bit longer before the drug is available again across the country, said Matt Cabrey, a spokesperson for Shire Pharmaceuticals. ...more

ASA, other anti-inflammatory drugs cut risk for colon cancer in women: study

From the Canadian Press:
Women who took two or more doses of ASA or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs per week significantly reduced their risk of colorectal cancer - but also boosted the danger of internal bleeding, a major study has found.

The study of more than 80,000 women found that those who swallowed 14 or more tablets of ASA or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) per week on a consistent basis over 10 years had the lowest risk for developing colorectal cancer, said lead author Dr. Andrew Chan. ...more

U.S. drug giant Walgreen may have a prescription for Shoppers

From the Globe and Mail:
Inside the world of Big Pharmacy, the talk is of an impending takeover deal between Walgreen Co., the largest drug store chain in the United States, and Shoppers Drug Mart, Canada's only nationwide pharmacy chain. A spokesperson for Shoppers CEO Glenn Murphy says: "It's not been discussed; it's not on Shoppers' radar." But that's not what the unofficial word is. ...more

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Ten Canadian firms apply to sell drugs in Nevada

From the Las Vegas SUN:
Ten pharmacies from Canada have applied to be licensed to fill prescriptions for Nevadans, state officials said Monday.

Louis Ling, the Nevada Board of Pharmacy's lawyer, said he had expected to see three applications at most. But by Friday's deadline, more than three times as many Canadian pharmacies had submitted applications, each accompanied by a $500 filing fee. All 10 are independent pharmacies and most have been selling to the United States for years, Ling said. ...more

Monday, August 22, 2005

Cancer clinic opens the door for private care

From the Globe and Mail:
A new private clinic in Toronto has begun booking appointments for patients who can afford to buy the costly cancer drugs Ontario's public system does not provide, foreshadowing what could become a standard feature of medicare.

"We're receiving faxes from doctors, who have had discussions with their patients, pretty much every day now," said Graham Vincent, chief operating officer of Provis Infusion Clinic Inc., which provides intravenous cancer drugs at a downtown centre. ...more

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Sales of key antiviral drug soar

From the Canadian Press:
North American sales of the drug oseltamivir have more than tripled in recent months, a trend public health experts see as evidence individuals are stockpiling the once little-used antiviral as a hedge against a possible flu pandemic.

With similar reports emerging in other countries as well, a leading advocate for pandemic preparedness is concerned public demand could soon outstrip the limited global supply. ...more

Vioxx maker vows to appeal $253M judgment

From CTV News:
Pharmaceutical giant Merck and Co. has announced it will be appealing the $253.4-million US damage award given to the widow of a man who took the painkiller Vioxx.

"We believe that we have strong points to raise on appeal and are hopeful that the appeals process will correct the verdict," Kenneth C. Frazier, senior vice president and general counsel of Merck, said in a statement. ...more

Latest on Canadian Prescription Drug Website

From KLAS-TV (Nev.):
The Nevada State Board of Pharmacy is inching closer to having a website up and running where Nevadans can purchase prescription drugs from Canada online. August 19 is the application deadline for those pharmacies that would like to participate.

The local Medicare Advisory Foundation has been helping seniors get drugs from Canada for the last four years. Director Dan Roberts expects the state's new website will bring substantial savings for patients: ...more

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Ontario mulls restrictions on sale of cold medications to combat crystal meth

From the Canadian Press:
A special Ontario committee will examine the feasibility of regulating the sale of some popular cold and allergy medications that contain the key ingredient used to make crystal methamphetamine, the province's health minister said Friday.

But George Smitherman was quick to note that requiring a prescription for common over-the-counter medications such as Sudafed, Actifed and Contac is just one of many ideas that will be on the table as Canada's most populous province wrestles with the growing national scourge of crystal meth. ...more

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Seniors primed on drug bill plan

From In Forum (NDak.):
Moorhead retiree Donna Chalimonczyk saves $60 a month buying prescription drugs from Canada to treat her osteoporosis.

She hopes other seniors will have more opportunity to save money by buying foreign drugs, too. ...more

Long hours, workload blamed for drug errors

From the Patriot News (Mass.):
They work 12-hour shifts on their feet, often with no break.

In a decade, the number of prescriptions they fill annually has grown 65 percent, to more than 3 billion.

Such increased workloads and long hours contribute to pharmacy errors, say researchers and regulators, yet as state officials investigate a growing number of error complaints, Massachusetts and other states do little to regulate pharmacists' working conditions. Efforts to set national standards have failed, say those who support tighter regulations. ...more

(Not a Canadian related pharmacy story, but the problem of pharmacy errors is relevant everywhere.)

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Antiviral drug touted as anti-pandemic tool

From CTV News:
A little-known antiviral drug that works against influenza has been largely ignored as countries race to amass drug arsenals to fight a feared flu pandemic. But governments should not overlook zanamivir, a commentary in a leading medical journal suggests.

The commentary, in this week's issue of The Lancet, appears almost prescient; Germany announced Thursday it was buying 1.7 million doses of zanamivir, choosing it over the more popular antiviral oseltamivir. ...more

DayNight Pharmacy proud to be part of Valley Town

From the Dundas (Ontario) Star News:
Thanks to the newest addition to Dundas' thriving business community, there's one more reason not to miss this Thursday's popular annual Cactus Festival Parade. ...more

Drug battles relapsed bone marrow cancer

From Macleans:
People with bone marrow cancer who fail standard treatments may live longer thanks to a new drug called bortezomib.

Bone marrow cancer, or multiple myeloma, will be diagnosed in 1,850 Canadians this year, according to the Canadian Cancer Society. An estimated 1,250 will die from the disease.

Dr. Joseph Connor, chairman of the lymphoma treatment group at the B.C. Cancer Agency, says that for multiple myeloma patients who have failed standard treatments such as bone marrow stem cell transplantation or chemotherapy, bortezomib can help 30 to 40 per cent get better and stay better for months and possibly years. ...more

The staggering price of survival

From the Globe and Mail:
A 75-year-old cancer patient from Prince Edward Island is depleting her life savings to pay $4,500 a month for thalidomide.

An Albertan, living on a small pension, cashed in some RRSPs to pay for the drug to treat his multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells in the bone marrow.

And an Ottawa-area father has paid thousands so his teenage son with brain cancer could get the drug.

All of these people are wondering how a drug, almost a half-century old, which can be made for less than a dime in a Brazilian government laboratory, can cost as much as $37.50 a capsule in Canada. ...more

Health Canada Advisory Re: Counterfeit Lipitor Sold in UK

From Halifax Live:
Health Canada is advising Canadians about the recent recall of a batch of counterfeit Lipitor (atorvastatin) sold in the United Kingdom (UK). This drug is used to treat high cholesterol. The counterfeit Lipitor 20mg tablets were recalled in the UK on July 28, 2005.

Health Canada has no indication that any of the counterfeit Lipitor tablets reached the Canadian market. ...more

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

For Generic Drugs, the Price Is Right in U.S.

From the Los Angeles Times:
Mabel Stoltz, at 93, lives independently in her own home in a quiet harbor town on the Minnesota shore of Lake Superior. But she has to watch her budget carefully and has been buying prescription drugs from Canada.

So Stoltz was surprised to learn recently that she could buy her generic-label medications for much less from a U.S. pharmacy — a potential savings of $560 a year for two prescriptions. "I do have enough money to pay, but I don't know how long it will last at this rate," said Stoltz, who once worked as a medical secretary.

Like Stoltz, many U.S. consumers have been buying generic drugs from Canada, not realizing that generics — unlike brand-name medications — are usually quite a bit cheaper at home. ...more

Monday, August 08, 2005

Canada Services Responds

Just half an hour before Friday's 5pm deadline, Canada Services responded to a complaint from the state's Attorney General. It simply requests the judge throw it out. ...more

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Fla. doctor avoids serious discipline for providing Canadian flu shots

From the Brandon (Manitoba) Sun:
Dr. Hanimi Challa says all he wanted to do was provide his elderly patients with critical flu shots. So, when the U.S. flu vaccine supply appeared to be cut drastically short last year because of a contamination problem in England, he went looking for an alternative.

He found it in Canada. ...more

Robbery hits close to home

From the Fredericton Daily Gleaner:
Despite twice being a victim of an armed robbery, pharmacist Donna Chauvin doesn't feel the latest syringe incident is a trend - at least as far as pharmacies are concerned.

Chauvin was held up in 1997 with a gun and in 1999 with a knife. ...more

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Cancer drug treats rheumatoid arthritis

From Macleans:
A single course of treatment with the cancer drug rituximab lessens the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis for up to two years, according to Canadian doctors.

Rituximab (brand name Rituxan) is approved for treatment of a cancer called non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Because the drug targets a certain type of immune system cell, researchers decided to test it in rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic disease in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the body's own joints, causing pain and swelling. ...more

Hike in funding for cancer drugs helps

From the Stouffville (Ont.) Sun Tribune:
Helen Gaidatsis will not use Herceptin, Navelbine or Taxotere, the new intravenous cancer drugs the province is now spending $148 million over three years to fund.

But the retired York elementary school principal and breast cancer survivor knows the decision to fund three expensive cancer drugs previously available only through private health insurance or personal expense will held many patients, both medically and financially. ...more

Tennessee Leads U.S. in Medicaid Cuts, Considers Drug Imports

Tennessee is cutting more people from Medicaid this year than any other state, and lawmakers there want to compensate by letting residents buy cheaper drugs from outside the U.S.

Tennessee is a month into a plan to trim as many as 322,000 people from Medicaid, the joint state-U.S. health program for the poor, to slow increases in the state's health spending. Other states making significant cuts are No. 2 Missouri with 90,000, Alaska, Mississippi, Ohio and Oregon. ...more

Models suggest flu pandemic could be stopped at source but skeptics abound

From the Canadian Press:
A flu pandemic could be extinguished at its source with a rapid response combining antiviral drugs, quarantine and perhaps vaccination, two international groups of mathematical modellers reported Wednesday in prominent scientific journals. ...more

Canadian Drug Service Closes

From the Lakeland (FL) Ledger:
A Canadian pharmacy service in Lakeland shut its doors in March following legal action by the Florida Department of Health.

Discount Medicine of Canada closed after the Health Department won a permanent injunction against the business in Polk County circuit court, according to documents released to The Ledger this week by the DOH. In their report, DOH investigators said Discount Medicine continually violated state laws and was operating as an unlicensed pharmacy. ...more

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Health Canada warns of opioids-alcohol dangers

From CTV News:
Slow-release painkillers known as opioids and any amount of alcohol could be a fatal combination, Health Canada warned Wednesday.

It urged people on the pain medications to avoid alcoholic drinks and over-the-counter medicines containing alcohol until further safety data can be gathered. ...more

New drug helping win fight against fastest rising cancer

From the Globe and Mail:
Adding a new drug to the standard chemotherapy cocktail can significantly boost the survival rate of patients with the most common type of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma -- the fastest-rising cancer among Canadians, a study has shown.

The study by the B.C. Cancer Agency shows that the addition of the drug rituximab increased two-year survival by more than 50 per cent, compared with using only the standard mix of four chemo drugs. ...more

Potentially fatal interaction between slow-release Opioid, and alcohol

From Health Canada:
Health Canada is advising Canadians of serious health risks when consuming alcohol while taking any type of slow-release painkillers known as opioids. These medications are used for the relief of severe pain over a prolonged period of time. ...more

Dementia drugs don't increase stroke risk

From Macleans:
An Ontario study suggests people with dementia do not have an elevated risk of stroke if they take medications called atypical antipsychotics, despite several official warnings to the contrary.

The atypical antipsychotics in question are risperidone (brand name Risperdal), olanzapine (Zyprexa) and quetiapine (Seroquel). The use of these drugs is widespread in people with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia who display aggression, agitation and psychosis, collectively referred to as behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia. ...more

Canada Services' Day In Court

It's been sixteen months since Canada Services set up shop here in Sioux Falls. Questions over whether the business is legal have been around even longer. But like today's temperatures, the heat is back on to shut it down.

Almost from the time the name went up, owner Brent Christopherson has been defending his business. Brent Christopherson says, "Canada Drug us a mail-order facility for people that want to place an order through Canada for prescription drugs." ...more

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Canada Services has until Friday afternoon to answer lawsuit

From the Aberdeen (SD) News:
A company that set up shop in Sioux Falls about 16 months ago has been given until Friday afternoon to answer a lawsuit that says it is illegally dispensing drugs.

The South Dakota Board of Pharmacy filed the lawsuit May 31 against Canada Services, originally known as Canada Drugs. The company serves as a go-between for cheaper prescription drugs from Canada. ...more

Monday, August 01, 2005

Paying the price for treatment

From the Globe and Mail:
Avastin is a promising new drug that lengthens the lives of those with incurable colorectal cancer, the second biggest cause of cancer death in Canada.

It's also one of a slew of drugs revolutionizing cancer care and stoking a growing controversy over where -- or if -- to draw the line on funding for expensive new therapies. ...more

Sunday, July 31, 2005

What sedative could be behind hospital terror?

From the Alberta Daily Herald Tribune:
More than 25 different sedative-type drugs, including the date-rape drug Rohypnol, could be the one used to terrorize fourth-floor staff at Grande Prairie's QEII hospital, says an Alberta pharmaceutical expert.

For the past 16 months, there have been more than 20 reports of staff on the floor experiencing dizziness, memory loss and having to go home and sleep for hours. Union officials have said that at least three staff members have tested positive for a drug in their system. Peace Country Health has told staff members not to share their food and drink or leave it unattended. RCMP are investigating. ...more

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Beta blockers don't help low-risk patients after non-cardiac surgery: study

From the Canadian Press:
New research raises concerns about the popular practice of giving most heart patients drugs that reduce the heart's workload before and after major surgery.

Guidelines recommend giving beta blocker pills to people at high risk of heart problems if they are undergoing non-cardiac surgery. But hospitals routinely prescribe the drugs to most heart patients, even those at lower risk of complications, who are having an operation. Researchers found that low-risk patients given the drugs were significantly more likely to die. ...more

Study finds Echinacea doesn't help colds

From CTV News:
It's long been touted as an ideal drug-free way to fend off the common cold. But a new study suggests that Echinacea is better at boosting hopes than it is at boosting the immune system.

The U.S. study found that patients who take the popular herbal remedy fare no better than those who take a dummy treatment. ...more

Quebec to fund costly breast cancer drug

From CBC Montreal:
Quebec is one of three provinces which will pay for expanded use of the expensive cancer-fighting drug Herceptin.

In May, clinical trial results suggested Herceptin (Trastuzumab) in addition to traditional chemotherapy can prevent recurrence of breast cancer and improve overall survival rates from the disease. ...more

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Local discount-prescription businesses diversifying as Canada warns of pull-back

From the Fort Myers (FL) News Press:
Customers worried their access to cheaper Canadian drugs might be jeopardized need not fear: the world is at their fingertips.

Canadian health officials last month announced they intend to ban the bulk export of prescription drugs when supplies are low there, sending a ripple of concern through thousands of Southwest Florida residents who rely on Canada to save them money. ...more

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Health Canada advises about vision problems possibly associated with Viagra, Cialis and Levitra

From Health Canada:
Health Canada is advising individuals who use the drugs Viagra, Cialis and Levitra to consult their physicians and seek immediate medical attention if they experience sudden vision loss or vision-related problems while taking these drugs. Viagra, Cialis and Levitra are drugs used to treat impotence and erectile dysfunction in men. ...more

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Important Safety Information on Concomitant Use of PAXIL or PAXIL CR and pimozide (Orap)

From Health Canada:
The concomitant use of PAXIL® or PAXIL CR™ and pimozide (Orap®) is contraindicated as paroxetine has been shown to increase plasma pimozide levels. Elevation of pimozide blood concentration may result in QT interval prolongation and severe arrhythmias including Torsade de Pointes.

Senate panel endorses drug bill

From the Portland (Maine) Press Herald:
A Senate committee approved legislation Thursday to allow people to buy prescription drugs from other countries, but the prospects for the bill's ultimate passage remain uncertain.

The Senate Commerce Committee voted 13-8 to add the legislation from U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, to a bill governing the Federal Trade Commission. Snowe said the goal behind the bill is to take advantage of lower, government-limited prices in other countries. ...more

State advances its quest for Canadian drugs

From In Business Las Vegas:
The Nevada Pharmacy Board is one step closer to making Canadian drugs available to Nevadans.

Pharmacy Board lawyer Louis Ling and incoming executive director Larry Pinson visited with about 20 Canadian pharmacies in Winnipeg, Manitoba, for a few days last week.

The pharmacies are interested in selling prescription drugs to Nevadans -- at a lower rate on brand-name drugs than is available from U.S. pharmacies. Canada has mandated discounts imposed on pharmaceutical manufacturers, while the United States does not. ...more

Democrats propose bill to let Michigan residents buy cheaper drugs

From the Detroit Free Press:
State House Democrats say Michigan residents could save big on prescription drugs if the state joins a program letting them buy medicines from Canada and other countries.

Democrats planned to announce legislation Monday that would allow Michigan to get into the I-SaveRx program, which helps individuals buy about 150 brand-name drugs at a lower price because they are shipped from outside the United States. ...more