Thursday, December 28, 2006

Druggist motivated by greed: Crown

Final statements were made by the lawyers in the Norvascgate trial today. The trial is slated to continue on January 22. I suspect we are getting close to a verdict.

From the Hamilton Spectator:
The Crown says a Hamilton pharmacist was driven by pure greed when he sold bogus heart medication to unsuspecting patients suffering from serious medical conditions.

In her closing submission, assistant Crown attorney Cheryl Gzik also suggested Abadir Nasr, 29, was willing to jeopardize the welfare of clients for the sake of money. ...more

Popular heartburn drugs linked to hip fractures in people over 50

From the Canadian Press:
Taking such popular heartburn drugs as Nexium, Prevacid or Prilosec for a year or more can raise the risk of a broken hip markedly in people over 50, a large study in Britain found.

The study raises questions about the safety of some of the most widely used and heavily promoted prescription drugs on the market, taken by millions of people.

The researchers speculated that when the drugs reduce acid in the stomach, they also make it more difficult for the body to absorb bone-building calcium. That can lead to weaker bones and fractures. ...more

Friday, December 22, 2006

Pharmacist fights back, thieves flee

This pharmacist was willing to put his life on the line when he fought off some robbers. I'm not sure what was in the safe, but it seems like a risky move to challenge a couple of armed bandits.

From the Hamilton Spectator:
Two drug hunting robbers fled a Mountain drugstore empty-handed after a feisty pharmacist fought back.

Police said the men entered Henderson Pharmacy on Concession Street around 5:10 p.m. Wednesday wearing disguises and demanded the pharmacist open the safe. ...more

Health Canada Endorsed Important Safety Information on Xigris [drotrecogin alfa (activated)]

From Health Canada:
Association of increased mortality and risk of serious adverse events when prophylactic low-dose heparin is abruptly discontinued in patients to be started on Xigris® [drotrecogin alfa (activated)] therapy for severe sepsis. ...more

Powerful U.S. Democrat puts drug imports at top of January's agenda

Could Canadian internet pharmacy make a comeback with changes to American laws? I suppose it's possible, but I still don't think we'll see a revival of the heyday for the online drug firms. However, the issue will be alive in the American political system in 2007.

From 680 News Toronto:
A top U.S. Democrat says his first order of business in January will be a new push to legalize prescription drug imports from Canada.

Illinois Congressman Rahm Emanuel, the House Democratic caucus chairman and a key architect of the party's election sweep of Congress, said this week his top priority is introducing another bill allowing Americans to buy cheaper Canadian medicines. ...more

Monday, December 18, 2006

Common chemo regimen inferior, Canadian-led study suggests

From CBC News:
Many Canadian women with breast cancer are already getting the best chemotherapy treatment available, according to an international study that compared three different drug combinations.

AC/T, a chemotherapy regimen commonly used in breast cancer patients, is significantly less successful at preventing cancer from recurring than another Canadian-developed combination, the study suggests. ...more

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Drugstores still dealing with birth control pill shortage

Are Triphasil and Alesse available in your pharmacy? Leave a message in the comments section.

From the Halifax Chronicle Herald:
Popular birth control pills Alesse and Triphasil are in short supply again.

Pharmacists at several Halifax drug dispensaries confirmed Friday that they are experiencing difficulties obtaining the oral contraceptives.

Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, the American firm that manufactures the pills, said last month that it had been experiencing problems at its production plants since the summer. ...more

Makers of controversial MS drug seek its use for Crohn's disease

From the Canadian Press:
The makers of a multiple sclerosis drug that U.S. regulators recently allowed back on the market despite a rare but life-threatening side effect are seeking approval to also market the drug for Crohn's disease.

Biogen Idec Inc. and Elan Corp. PLC said on Friday they applied to the Food and Drug Administration to expand Tysabri's use in the U.S. to cover moderate to severe cases of Crohn's disease, an intestinal disorder, along with its existing approval for MS, a disease of the central nervous system. ...more

Friday, December 15, 2006

Add antidepressant warning labels for young adults: U.S. panel

From CBC News:
Antidepressant drugs should be labelled to warn that their use may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviour in people up to age 24, a U.S. government advisory panel said Wednesday.

The information should be added to current "black box" warnings that say taking the drugs may increase risks in children and teens, said the panel of outside experts, which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration called on for advice on the issue. ...more

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Health Canada Endorsed Important Safety Information on Iressa (gefitinib)

From Health Canada:
Lack of Survival Benefit and Increased Incidence of Tumour Haemorrhage in Association with IRESSA® in Patients with Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Head and Neck (SCCHN ...more

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Drug-name confusion can be deadly

Similar drug names leading to confusion is a long standing pet peeve of mine. Unfortunately, another bad example recently hit the Canadian market. Trosec (trospium chloride) is a newly approved antispasmodic medication. It sounds eerily similar to the hugely popular Losec (omeprazole), which is a proton pump inhibitor. Both products are typically dosed at 20mg once daily. Why didn't the pharmaceutical manufacturer call this product Sanctura, which is the brand name used in the United States?

From the Saskatoon Star Phoenix:
As Bill Emrich left a Red Deer, Alta., hospital in 2004, emergency room staff thought they had given him a dose of morphine to deaden the pain of a riding accident.

In fact, a nurse had mistakenly administered hydromorphone, a similarly named narcotic that is seven times more potent. Less than an hour later, the 69-year-old was back in emergency, this time with doctors furiously trying to revive his stalled heart. "All resuscitation attempts failed," a report on the case said later, "and the patient expired." It was a dramatic example of a problem that has become almost routine in health care: the mixing up of drug names that sound or look alike, sometimes with deadly results. ...more

Health spending continues to rise

From the Globe and Mail:
Drugs cost more than the doctors who dish them out in Canada.

According to figures released Tuesday by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) in its annual report on health care, health care spending in Canada is expected to reach $148-billion in 2006, an increase of $8-billion over last year but lower than the average increases of the last six years.

Medication is expected to be the second largest expense in Canadian health this year — second only to the cost of running hospitals. ...more

Monday, December 11, 2006

Pharmacists get power to prescribe

This article is from a week or so ago and doesn't exactly cover any new ground, but I thought it is a decent summary of the Alberta pharmacist prescribing situation.

From the (University of Alberta) Gateway:
As of 1 April, 2007, pharmacists in Edmonton will be able to prescribe drugs and administer injections, under the recently sanctioned Health Professions Act (HPA) and the Pharmacy and Drug Act (PDA), approved by the provincial Cabinet on 8 November 2006.

While some believe this will make pharmacists more effective, some members of Alberta’s medical profession are skeptical—with one concern stemming from the conflict of interest inherent in the possibility of pharmacists prescribing drugs for financial gain. ...more

Birth control now comes in spearmint

This sounds like an interesting idea, but it has not yet been approved by the Canadian government yet. It's unfortunate that a Canadian news website didn't add that important bit of info.

Looking for a contraceptive that's convenient -- and tasty? The first chewable birth-control method, a tiny, spearmint-flavoured tablet that also can be swallowed without chewing, has hit U.S. pharmacy shelves. ...more

Sunday, December 10, 2006

‘Canadians should sleep better tonight’

Thelink for the complete pandemic guidelines are here.

From the Halifax Chronicle Herald:
The federal government released the latest version of Canada’s national pandemic influenza plan Saturday, the first official update of the plan in nearly two years.

It revises the document to reflect the real strides Canadian pandemic planning has made, suggested Federal Health Minister Tony Clement, who tabled the plan at a federal, provincial and territorial health ministers’s meeting in Moncton, N.B. ...more

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Pfizer wins Canadian ruling on Lipitor

It looks like Pfizer has blocked an attempt by Novopharm to sell a generic Lipitor. There is one mistake in this article -- Novopharm is not "closely held" as stated but in fact is owned by Israel-based Teva, which is a publicly traded company.

From Crain's New York Business:
Pfizer Inc. said Friday that a Canadian federal court has blocked Novopharm Ltd. from launching a generic version of its blockbuster cholesterol drug Lipitor until the patent expires.

The ruling, by the Canadian Federal Court in Toronto, prevents closely held Novopharm from selling a generic form of Lipitor until its Canadian patent ends in July 2010. The ruling is subject to appeal, said Pfizer, which sued to block Toronto-based Novopharm from moving forward with its generic plans. ...more

Friday, December 08, 2006

Internet drug firms' merger now permanent

Here's the official verification regarding the closing of Minnedosa's best known business. I don't really know how this is considered a merger. It sounds more like a takeover.

From the Winnipeg Sun:
Winnipeg-based Canada Drugs is absorbing the operations and patient files of rival Internet pharmacy, a company spokesman said yesterday.

The Manitoba companies explored the possibility of merging during a recent test run that saw Canada Drugs take over RxNorth's distribution of prescription drugs.

"After the last couple of months it looks like this is going to work so the parties have decided ... to have RxNorth continue to operate but as part of the group of companies," Canada Drugs spokesman and lawyer Troy Harwood-Jones said. ...more

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Health Canada advises consumers of the lack of a child-resistant cap on certain Robaxacet Caplets bottles

From Health Canada:
Health Canada is advising consumers that certain bottles of Robaxacet Caplets 40s do not have a child-resistant cap, despite the outer package indicating the bottle has a ‘child-lok' cap. This poses a risk that children could accidentally ingest the product. ...more

Xylocaine (lidocaine HCI) - Advisories, Warnings & Recalls (for hospitals)

From Health Canada:
On September 22, 2006 AstraZeneca recalled Xylocaine® (lidocaine HCl) Jelly 2% Single Use Plastic Syringe (10 mL) because of an issue related to the break seal construction of this syringe product and how it was being opened. ...more

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Drug-ad ban past expiry date

The linked article below is an opinion piece that argues in favour of changing the current advertising rules in Canada regarding prescription drugs. For those of you not familiar with these rules, it can be effectively summed up as following: A drug manufacturer can mention the name of their product in an ad, but can't mention its indicated use. Alternatively, they can place an ad promoting awareness of a medical condition as long as no drug product is mentioned.

These rules have forced advertisers to come up with commericals that bear little resemblance to those shown on American television. A prime example of mentioning a drug name but not the condition would be this Viagra commercial:

This ad works because everyone knows what Viagra is used for. Pfizer and their ad agency came up with a different approach when they wanted to promote Lipitor in Canada. In this case, they created the Making the Connection cholesterol awareness promotion. They were able to connect with their target audience with events like the Canadian Football League's Greatest QB/Receiver Connection while making no mention of a product.

While I admire the ingenuity of these ads, I think it's time to revisit the rules. The ads that mention the name only take advantage of the rules by not having to mention anything about the product, either good or bad. As a result, selling brand attitude without regard to any risks occurs. The worst example of this for me were the Alesse birth control pill ads. They simply sold a brand name in spots that resembled music videos with cool music and appealing actresses having fun then simply saying, "I'm on Alesse" with a big smile. There is no mention of what Alesse is, but the commercial ends showing a package of what is unmistakably birth control pills. The spots were clearly created with teenage girls in mind. There has to be a more upfront yet responsible way to allow drug companies to promote their products than this.

From the National Post:
Warning: Defective government policies can cause high blood pressure, nausea, dizziness, confusion, and loss of both freedom and income. Nowhere is this more true than in Canadian socialized health care, and nowhere more bizarre than in regulations on prescription-drug advertising.

Let me explain. ...more

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

U.S. stores change privacy rules after patient info found in trash

I found this pretty interesting. From what I've seen, most pharmacies have come a long way when it comes to proper disposal of patient information. I remember walking through a pharmacy parking lot perhaps 7 or 8 years ago and found extra patient labels that had blown out of the overfilled dumpster. I'm sure there are a few stores out there that still put this type of info in the regular garbage, but I think it's a lot less common now.

From CBC News:
The largest drugstore chains in the United States say they are working to better protect patient privacy after an investigative TV report checked city trash bins and found information on hundreds of store customers.

Indianapolis TV station WTHR inspected nearly 300 trash bins and found nearly 2,400 patient records, including pill bottles, customer refill lists and prescription labels. ...more

Pfizer stops Canadian trials

This is the first article I've seen mentioning a Canadian connection to torcetrapib. It shouldn't be a surprise that trials were being done here. There are many studies going on that are North America wide and essentially disregard the border.

From the Globe and Mail:
Canadian patients who were trying Pfizer Inc.'s new cholesterol treatment, torcetrapib, are being asked to stop immediately, the drug maker's Canadian arm told the Globe and Mail Monday.

The news comes after Pfizer said Saturday it had halted development of its key new cholesterol treatment. An independent board monitoring a study for torcetrapib recommended that the work end because of an unexpected number of deaths. ...more

Internet pharmacy to pull out of Minnedosa?

Minnedosa was once the poster child for international pharmacy in Canada, and now it's closing up shop. Now it's a symbol of how the business has fallen on tough times.

From the Winnipeg Sun:
A Minnedosa Internet pharmacy that helped shape a multi-million dollar industry appears to be on the verge of shuttering its call centre in the western Manitoba town.

A source said RxNorth is closing the centre this month, a move that would essentially put a halt to the mail-order pharmacy's operations in Minnedosa. ...more