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