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