Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Use of morning-after pill doubles if sold over counter, study finds

From the Globe and Mail:
Making the so-called "morning-after pill" available without a prescription has more than doubled demand for the drug in British Columbia, and suggests that emergency contraception is greatly underused in the rest of the country, according to a new study.

The research, published in today's edition of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, also shows that ready access to emergency contraception likely prevented hundreds of abortions in the province. ...more

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Medical and pharmacy groups unite against cross-border drug trade

From the Canadian Press:
Five national organizations representing doctors and pharmacists are presenting a united front to push federal Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh to crack down on the cross-border drug trade.

The groups, who recently met with Dosanjh and Health Canada officials to discuss their concerns, also plan to take their case to the departments of industry and trade so that any proposed solutions don't get hamstrung by provincial-federal squabbling over health-care jurisdiction. ...more

Friday, March 25, 2005

Mesabi Daily News

From the Mesabi Daily News (Minn.):
With prescription drug prices on the rise, some area lawmakers support a new plan to allow Minnesotans to order low-cost drugs from the United Kingdom. However, others have concerns about safety and claim that the state should be looking into lowering costs here rather than taking business overseas.

Last week, the Department of Human Services released a report encouraging the state to implement an importation system with two U.K. pharmacies. Under the plan, Minnesotans would be able to access the drugs through the Minnesota Rx Connect program, which currently allows individuals to purchase name-brand, low-price drugs from Canada through a state-run Web site. Minnesota was the first state to run such a Web site, and would also be the first to allow the importation of drugs from Europe. ...more

State agencies told to tout I-SaveRx

From the Peoria (Ill.) Journal Star:
State workers are adding another duty to their job description - publicity agent for the beleaguered I-SaveRx prescription drug program.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich is requiring all state agencies to promote the plan that skirts federal regulations by allowing enrollees to order medications from a network of Canadian and European pharmacies. ...more

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Local pharmacist wins national award

From the Nipawin (Sask.) Journal:
Although she’s only been in the field for a couple of years now, a local pharmacist has already caught the eye of her peers across the nation.

Last month Krystal Horudko, who works part-time at each of Pharmasave and Nipawin Hospital pharmacies, was awarded the Pfizer-sponsored award for commitment to long-term care at a convention for the Canadian Society for Hospital Pharmacists. ...more

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Health committee to study ways to add transparency to drug regulatory system

From the Canadian Press:
Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh has formally asked the Commons health committee to study ways to add transparency to and improve public confidence in the drug regulatory process.

Dosanjh wants the committee to make recommendations on how information learned from post-market surveillance of drugs could be better shared with the public, as well as how the public could become involved in the regulatory process before drugs are approved for sale. ...more

Health officials to discuss limited antiviral drugs

Little known and rarely used in North America, antiviral drugs will be the first line of defence when the next influenza pandemic strikes, in the months before a vaccine can be made available.

But with a national stockpile sufficient to treat only a fraction of Canada's population, deciding how to ration and distribute antivirals in the first wave of a pandemic poses King Solomon-like dilemmas for public health officials. ...more

Monday, March 21, 2005

No pressure from U.S. to curb Internet pharmacies, health minister says

From CBC News:
Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh says he isn't getting heat from U.S. officials to stop the flow of prescription drugs from Canada.

Dosanjh, who met U.S. Health Secretary Michael Leavitt on Thursday, said he outlined the options Canada is considering, including a ban on Internet pharmacies. "There was absolutely no pressure from him. I raised the issue," said Dosanjh. ...more

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Murphy leads the fight to allow drug reimportation

From the New Britain (Conn.) Herald:
At a public hearing before the Public Health Committee in the state capitol Friday, people on all sides debated whether the state should buy drugs from Canada and other nations to lower the cost of prescription medication.

Sen. Christopher Murphy, D-16, who represents Southington, is the chairman of the committee. He introduced bill 1236, which would pave the way for the state to begin the importation and reimportation of drugs from Canada, Ireland and the United Kingdom. Reimportation means that drugs purchased from America by Canadian pharmacies are then sold back to America. ...more

Vitamin E boosts risk of heart failure in some patients: Canadian-led study

From the Canadian Press:
Folk wisdom has long suggested that daily doses of vitamin E may protect against cardiovascular disease and cancer. But a massive Canadian-led study has found that the supplement not only fails to prevent the world's top two killers - it may also do harm.

"We noted an increase in heart failure" among those taking vitamin E, said Dr. Eva Lonn, a cardiologist at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont., and lead investigator of the study. "So our main message is that vitamin E does not protect you. It may harm you, so there's no reason to take it." ...more

Post-market surveillance of drugs inadequate, study suggests

From the Canadian Press:
A study of drugs withdrawn from the Canadian market over the last four decades uncovers some worrisome facts - and some surprising gaps in regulatory information, a commentary published Tuesday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal suggests.

Health Canada doesn't keep a list of drugs removed from the market for safety reasons, nor is there clear information on what should trigger a safety withdrawal, said author Dr. Joel Lexchin, a long-term critic of the pharmaceutical industry. ...more

Another upstate county considers Canadian drug option

From WSTM-TV (NY):
Lawmakers in another upstate county may soon clear the way for government workers to obtain prescription drugs from Canada.

This week in Binghamton, Broome County legislators plan to review a program that backers say could result in big savings to taxpayers.

The plan would apply to current county workers and retirees. ...more

Gov gives drug plan a shot in the arm

From the Chicago Sun Times:
Gov. Blagojevich on Sunday tried to drum up interest in his flagging drug-import pharmacy, which so far has attracted fewer than 1 in 1,000 residents.

Since Blagojevich announced the program at a well-publicized news conference Oct. 4, 2004, only 3,000 people have signed up for I-SaveRx -- and some customers are from other participating states. ...more

Little tracking of drugs pulled from Canadian market

From CBC News:
Health Canada doesn't keep a list of drugs pulled from the market for safety reasons, nor does the department clearly explain what triggers a recall, a journal commentary suggests.

Dr. Joel Lexchin, a professor at York University's school of health policy and management, wrote the commentary in Tuesday's issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal. ...more

Minnesota to tap Britain for cheaper drugs

From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
Minnesota, the first state to operate a Web site that helps residents import cheaper medications from Canada, plans to expand the program to include British mail-order pharmacies, Gov. Tim Pawlenty said Friday.

The Minnesota RxConnect program could within two months include two British pharmacies that would dispense drugs produced in Italy, Spain and Greece. ...more

Lawmakers Look to North for Prescription Drugs

From KLAS-TV (Nev.):
Nevadans may soon be able to import prescription drugs from Canada, saving in some case more than $50 on a prescription. The Assembly Commerce and Labor Committee heard testimony on a bill to link patients to pharmacies across the border.

According to a Canadian pharmacy association, roughly 1.8 million Americans already import drugs from Canada. Assembly Bill 195 would add thousands of Nevadans to the list. Creating a network of Canadian pharmacies licensed in Nevada to sell prescription drugs over the Internet and replace costly trips across the border. ...more

Minnesota to tap UK's drugs

From the Grand Forks (ND) Herald:
Coming soon to a medicine cabinet near you: Drugs from the United Kingdom.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty plans to add British pharmacies to the Minnesota RxConnect program that helps residents import cheaper prescription drugs. European expansion would circumvent efforts by drug companies to restrict supplies to Canada, Pawlenty said Friday. ...more

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Connecticut mulls drug reimportation

The Connecticut Senate is considering a bill that would allow the state to reimport prescription drugs from Canada and Europe.

The bill, S.B. 1236, would allow the state, from January 2006, to join the I-SaveRx prescription drug program implemented last year by Illinois and enable all Connecticut residents to purchase prescription drugs through the program. ...more

Monday, March 14, 2005

Health Canada Advises Consumers Not to Use "Cough Syrup Dm" Din 02015781 with Lot Numbers Starting with 2J29 and 3J29

From Health Canada:
Health Canada is advising consumers across Canada not to use specific brands of "Cough Syrup DM" DIN 02015781 with lot numbers starting with 2J29 and 3J29 due to the product containing twice the amount of dextromethorphan than is stated on the label.

At the request of Health Canada, this product is being recalled by the manufacturer, Jamp Pharmaceutical Corp in Langley, British Columbia. The "Cough Syrup DM" is packaged in 100mL and 250mL plastic bottles. The product is distributed to retailers across Canada and sold under the following brand names ...more

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Association of CRESTOR (rosuvastatin) with muscle related adverse events

From Health Canada:
AstraZeneca Canada Inc., in consultation with Health Canada, would like to inform patients of important safety information for CRESTOR® (rosuvastatin) tablets.

CRESTOR® is a cholesterol-lowering drug in the "statin" family. Statins are a specific type of medication used to lower cholesterol.

In Canada, and internationally, CRESTOR® has been associated with rare reports of a serious condition called rhabdomyolysis. Rhabdomyolysis is a condition that results in muscle breakdown and release of muscle cell contents into the bloodstream. In severe cases, rhabdomyolysis can lead to kidney failure and be life-threatening. Some patients may have pre-existing medical conditions which might cause them to have a greater risk of developing muscle related problems, including rhabdomyolysis, if they are using "statin" medications. ...more

House endorses Canadian drug reimportation

From the Great Falls (MT) Tribune:
The House gave initial approval Thursday to a bill aimed at giving Montanans access to cheaper prescription drugs from Canada.

The measure by Rep. Rick Maedje, R-Fortine, originally authorized residents to buy Canadian medicines through a state-run Web site, but was amended by Democrats to limit that site access to licensed state pharmacies because of safety concerns. ...more

Canada 'Nowhere Near' Internet Pharmacy Clampdown

From Reuters:
Canada said on Friday it was "nowhere near" deciding how to clamp down on Internet pharmacies that send cheap medicine to the United States, often without Canadian doctors having seen the patients.

Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh, who says the practice is immoral, is studying several options on how to restrict a trade worth around C$850 million ($710 million) a year. ...more

Health Canada recalls cough syrup

From the Washington Times:
Health Canada has warned that a generic cough syrup contains too much of its active ingredient and could cause seizures in young children.

The syrup manufactured by Jamp Pharmaceutical Corp. in Langley, B.C., is sold in Canada as "Cough Syrup DM," the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reports. The brand names include People First, PharmaChoice, Procurity Encounter, ARP Preferred, Medicine Centre, United Pharmacy and Western Family. ...more

Saturday, March 12, 2005

FDA Seizes Drugs Imported Under States' Program, Supplier Says

The Food and Drug Administration is seizing prescription drugs shipped to patients in the U.S. from overseas under I-Save Rx, the program sponsored by five states to help residents obtain low-cost medicines.

At least 54 customers said the FDA confiscated orders sent from the U.K. since late January, according to Tony Howard, president of CanaRx Services Inc., the program's Tecumseh, Ontario-based supplier. The orders were worth $13,000, Howard said. ...more

Adding Plavix to other drugs for heart attack patients saves lives: studies

From the Canadian Press:
Adding Plavix to other anti-clotting drugs typically given to heart attack patients saves lives and prevents second heart attacks, two huge international studies found.

The strategy is the first big advance in heart attack care in more than a decade, since modern clot-busters were shown to work, specialists said. ...more

Pawlenty to consider drug imports from Britain

From the Grand Forks (ND) Herald:
Gov. Tim Pawlenty could decide next week to make drugs sold by some British pharmacies available through a state program that now helps Minnesotans get low-cost drugs from Canada.

Last week, two state workers visited pharmacies in Britain and will have a report and recommendations to Pawlenty next week, said Human Services Commissioner Kevin Goodno.

Pawlenty's approval could mean that by June, Minnesotans could order their medications from one or two British pharmacies in addition to those in Canada. ...more

Canada drug-buying programs are working outside North America

Advocacy groups from several northern states and Canadian pharmacy executives said Friday that Canadian drug purchasing programs already are working with countries outside North America to provide cheaper prescriptions for U.S. customers.

The groups, in Philadelphia during the annual joint conference of the American Society on Aging and The National Council on the Aging, would not disclose the countries or companies out of concerns that they could be legally targeted by American pharmaceutical firms. ...more

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

High doses of cholesterol drugs can help people with heart disease: study

From the Canadian Press:
Taking very high doses of a drug to push cholesterol to very low levels can help people with heart disease avoid strokes and heart attacks, but also can cause liver problems that limit the ability to tolerate such intensive treatment, doctors report.

A very large international study tested this approach for the first time in people with clogged arteries that occasionally cause chest pain, and found that it cut their chances of having a bad event such as a heart attack by 22 per cent compared with those on a lower dose. ...more

Bill would make state import discount drugs

From the Portland (Maine) Press Herald:
The state's quest to cut prescription-drug costs took a new turn Monday when a legislative committee considered a bill that would require state government to import discounted drugs "from out of the state and out of the country, including Canada," to help the elderly and the disabled. Sponsored by state Rep. James Campbell, R-Newfield, the bill orders the state Department of Health and Human Services to create such a program and test imported drugs to ensure that they are safe. Mainers 62 and older, and those with disabilities, would be allowed to participate. ...more

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

FDA Seizes Drugs Imported Under States' Program, Supplier Says

The Food and Drug Administration is seizing prescription drugs shipped to patients in the U.S. from overseas under I-Save Rx, the program sponsored by five states to help residents obtain low-cost medicines.

At least 54 customers said the FDA confiscated orders sent from the U.K. since late January, according to Tony Howard, president of CanaRx Services Inc., the program's Tecumseh, Ontario-based supplier. The orders were worth $13,000, Howard said. ...more

College of Pharmacy attracts Canadians

From the South End Newspaper (Mich.):
At a time when many Americans are looking to Canada for discounted prescription medications, a large number of Canadians are attending pharmacy schools in the United States.

Wayne State University’s Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, is especially convenient for Canadians because of its close proximity to the border. ...more

Nfld. pharmacists fear break-ins after drug arrests

From CBC News:
Pharmacists in Newfoundland and Labrador's capital are bracing for more break-ins after 11 suspected street dealers of the painkiller OxyContin were arrested.

The 11 appeared in court on Friday, facing a combined total of 48 charges involving trafficking in OxyContin and morphine, among other drugs.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Health Canada advises patients about the risks of CRESTOR (rosuvastatin)

From Health Canada:
Health Canada is advising Canadians about important safety information for CRESTOR® (rosuvastatin). A recent US study has found that Asian patients may be at greater risk of developing muscle-related adverse events with this drug. CRESTOR® is a cholesterol-lowering drug in the "statin" family. "Statins" are a specific type of cholesterol-lowering medication.

In Canada, and internationally, CRESTOR® has been associated with reports of a serious condition called rhabdomyolysis. Rhabdomyolysis results in muscle breakdown and the release of muscle cell contents into the bloodstream. ...more

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Canadian pharmacy retail store closes

From the Grand Rapids (Mich.) Press:
The local pipeline to Canadian pharmacies has narrowed with last week's closing of the American Drug Club store on Alpine Avenue NW, one of only two area retail outlets for cheaper drugs.

"The closing is a result of the industry trend toward using the Internet and mail order to acquire prescription medications -- not by governmental influence or order," the company explained in a letter taped to its storefront, 2751 Alpine Ave. NW. ...more

Health Canada issues Crestor warning

From the Canadian Press:
Daily doses of the cholesterol drug Crestor should be severely reduced for people of Asian descent and other patients displaying risk factors for muscular problems, says Health Canada.

The warning comes just days after U.S. officials announced the drug would be relabelled in that country. ...more

FDA seizes batches of two Glaxo drugs

From CBC News:
Officials in the U.S. seized batches of a diabetes drug and an antidepressant medication on Friday because of concerns the drug company didn't meet manufacturing standards.

The drugs are Paxil CR, a control-released formula used to treat depression and panic disorder, and Avandamet, used to treat type 2 diabetes ...more

Going Global at a Small-Town Canadian Drugstore

From the New York Times:
Andrew Strempler keeps a poker table folded in the corner of his sparsely decorated office, and a box of chips embossed with the name of his online pharmacy company, RxNorth, handy to play with guests and employees. The one book on his tidy desk is a gambling guide called "Texas Hold 'Em."

At age 30, Mr. Strempler says his poker playing is just recreational, along with his appetite for fast cars - two Dodge Vipers, a Jaguar and an immaculately polished yellow Lamborghini, complete with a vanity license plate that reads "RX Boss" - collected since he transformed his corner pharmacy here into what the Canadian trade association says is the world's first major online pharmacy. ...more

Several Indian bands look at opening Rx outlets

From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
One of Gov. Tim Pawlenty's latest proposals has brought to light little-known negotiations between Indian tribal groups in Minnesota and Canada that may alter how and where Minnesotans get prescription drugs -- whether the state likes it or not.

Pawlenty recently said that if the feds shut down the state's RxConnect program, which links Minnesotans to low-cost Canadian drug purveyors via the Internet, he might employ his "doomsday scenario" -- having northern Minnesota bands use their sovereign status to buy and resell Canadian drugs from their reservations. ...more

Drugmakers, Bush hurt Canada's Net pharmacies

From the Arizona Republic:
Andrew Strempler started one of the first companies in Canada to export cut-rate prescription drugs to the United States in 1999. Today, he drives a $300,000 Lamborghini coupe, smokes Zino Platinum cigars and sponsors hockey teams and a rock festival in the Manitoba town where his pharmacy is based.

Lately, Strempler, 30, has also spent more than $800,000 on lobbying and legal fees. He and dozens of other Canadian pharmacists are fighting efforts by U.S. drugmakers, the administration of President Bush and their own government to halt about $1 billion in exports of discount drugs. About 40 percent of the sales come from Manitoba pharmacies, which have driven job growth in the midwestern Canadian province. ...more

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Missouri bill allowing importation of Canadian drugs faces stiff opposition

From the Canadian Press:
Lobbyists for drugmakers and pharmacies criticized legislation Wednesday that would license Canadian pharmacies to sell drugs in Missouri.

Representatives of the pharmaceutical industry suggested such a practice would be unsafe for consumers and unfair to Missouri pharmacies. Sponsoring Representative Bob Johnson conceded his bill has little chance of passage but insisted it was important nonetheless. more...

Beef up drug monitoring, Health Canada told

From CBC News:
The recent health scare surrounding popular arthritis drugs prove that Canadians need to be warned sooner about dangerous drugs, some of the country's top scientists told Health Canada on Tuesday.

Surveillance to monitor the safety of drugs was a key topic of discussion at a meeting between researchers and the department. ...more

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Stroke risk same for newer dementia drugs as forerunners, Canadian study says

From the Canadian Press:
Witnessing a once sweet-tempered loved one turn belligerent and physically aggressive is one of the most difficult aspects of dementia for family members to contend with. And although certain drugs can ease those symptoms, some doctors have been wary of prescribing them because of fears they may cause stroke.

Patient trials have suggested that newer medications like risperidone and olanzapine, known as atypical antipsychotics, double the danger of strokes and other cardiovascular events compared with older antipsychotics like haloperidol. ...more

Local outlet offers drugs from Canada

From the Washington Times:
Tucked away under a green sign in a small Wheaton shopping center, Value Rx of Canada LLC orders cheap prescription drugs from Canada for walk-in customers.

The storefront pharmacy-processing center helps mainly senior citizens buy up to 3,000 types of prescription drugs from Canada that are less expensive than those in the United States.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates U.S. prescription drugs, is trying to shut down processing centers like Value Rx, saying they violate federal law. ...more

Rhode Island tackles prescription drug issue

From the Berkshire (Mass.) Eagle:
With a growing number of senior citizens being forced to choose between paying the high cost of prescription drugs or heating their home, Rhode Island state Rep. Fausto Anguilla said he couldn't wait any longer for the federal government to step in.

The Bristol Democrat filed legislation that empowers the state Board of Pharmacy to license Canadian pharmacies so residents can safely purchase drugs sold over the border for a fraction of the cost. The controversial measure, which some say violates federal regulations banning the importation of drugs from Canada, went nowhere two years ago. ...more

State Rx program looks to Europe

From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
The state of Minnesota is poised to expand its Canadian drug-buying program by offering low-cost drugs from Europe, officials said Monday.

Within two weeks, the state Department of Human Services will recommend to Gov. Tim Pawlenty ways to add drugs from England or other English-speaking countries to the Minnesota RxConnect program, Commissioner Kevin Goodno said. ...more