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