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