Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Pharmacist cleared

I will post more info once it's available...

The Pharmacist who was charged with selling fake heart drugs has been cleared of criminal charges.

Abadir Nasr, had a dozen fraud charges dismissed today as the crown couldn't prove that he intended to sell the counterfeit drugs. ...more

Pharmacist defaulted on $1m loan

It looks like the counterfeit Norvasc case in Hamilton will have a verdict announced today. Meanwhile, Mr. Nasr appears to be in further legal trouble as a civil suit is now being filed regarding some shady financial dealings.

From the Hamilton Spectator:
CIT Financial Ltd. of Burlington is seeking a civil judgment against a former Hamilton pharmacist who defaulted on a $1 million loan.

Abadir Nasr, 29, of Mississauga, also faces a criminal court judgment today in a separate proceeding in which he is charged with defrauding the public, pharmaceutical manufacturer Pfizer Canada and various public and private health insurers through the sale of a counterfeit heart drug and pills not authorized for sale in Canada. ...more

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Slight OD of popular antidepressant could cause death

The details of the venlafaxine toxicity report is located at the British Columbia Medical Journal website.

From the Vancouver Sun:
B.C. doctors are being put on alert that the most commonly prescribed antidepressant in B.C. is increasingly being observed to have toxic overdose consequences such as seizures and even deaths.

"We are alerting doctors about our concerns to give them a heads-up that it is a potential concern because it appears it is more toxic than it was originally hoped it would be," Derek Daws, managing director of the B.C. Drug and Poison Information Centre said in an interview Monday, referring to the medication called venlafaxine whose brand name is Effexor. ...more

Sask. pharmacy owners sell UPE

I suppose it's a sign of the times: a pharmacist-owned wholesale company sells out to one the big players in the wholesale business. Hopefully the pharmacists/shareholders get a good return on their investment, but it's unfortunate that Saskatchewan pharmacists have one less option to buy their pharmaceuticals.

From the Saskatoon Star Phoenix:
A group of Saskatchewan pharmacy owners have decided it's time to wind down their Saskatoon-based pharmaceutical distribution company and tap into a much larger supply chain.

The pharmacist-shareholders of United Pharmacists Enterprises Ltd. (UPE) announced Monday that the company is being sold to McKesson Canada. The sale will mean the loss of about 50 full-time and 15 part-time jobs at the UPE distribution centre on 45th Street East in Saskatoon's north end. ...more

Monday, February 26, 2007

Deal reached in methadone case

From the Toronto Star:
A deal has been reached between a pharmacist accused of professional misconduct and prosecutors with the Ontario College of Pharmacists.

Susan Wong, the pharmacist, is alleged to have behaved in a "disgraceful" and "unprofessional" manner in her involvement in a methadone pipeline that supplied a large chain of drug-addiction clinics. ...more

Eligible kids missing out on Pharmacare

It sounds like this drug plan for low-income families is relatively new. Hopefully Nova Scotia pharmacists can help spread the word about the program. A link to the plan is at

From the Halifax Chronicle Herald:
Less than a third of children in low-income families eligible for $5 prescriptions are in the program, according to the Community Services Department.

The MacDonald government launched the children’s Pharmacare program in October, after promising it during last year’s election campaign. As of mid-February, 10,600 children from 8,500 families were enrolled. That’s only 30 per cent of the 35,000 children eligible. ...more

A chance to jump wait list

This isn't a specifically a Canadian pharmacy story, but it's about a Canadian pharmacist who was one the internet pharmacy pioneers. Now that the online pharmacy business has cooled, it can be expected that some of those original entrepreneurs will use their experience and resources to branch out into different projects.

From the Winnipeg Free Press:
Manitobans will have the chance to jump the wait list and pay for their own surgeries in India and Cuba thanks to a new medical tourist program starting this spring.

Choice Medical Services is set to launch in less than three months, and is intended to be a middle-class alternative to pricey procedures at the U.S. Mayo Clinic. For about $6,000, patients can pay out-of-pocket for a total hip replacement in Delhi, India, instead of waiting an average of 25 weeks in Manitoba or forking over upwards of $20,000 to have the surgery done in the U.S.

Local businessman and Internet pharmacy pioneer Daren Jorgenson has already inked agreements with Apollo Hospitals Group in India and the Cuban Ministry of Health in Havana to start sending patients through the program, which he said is a safe alternative for Manitobans frustrated with lengthy wait times in the health care system. ...more

Important safety information on rosiglitazone-containing products: Avandia, Avandamet and Avandaryl

From Health Canada:
GlaxoSmithKline Inc. (GSK), in consultation with Health Canada, would like to inform you of recent safety data concerning rosiglitazone-containing products, i.e., AVANDIA® (rosiglitazone maleate) tablets, AVANDAMET® (rosiglitazone maleate/metformin hydrochloride) tablets and AVANDARYLTM (rosiglitazone maleate/glimepiride) tablets. These products are used in treating type 2 diabetes mellitus.
For Health Professionals

Health Canada examining information linking antiviral drug to development of treatment-resistant HIV

From Health Canada:
Health Canada is informing Canadians of new information submitted by the manufacturer of the antiviral drug Baraclude that suggests the drug may be linked to the development of a treatment-resistant strain of HIV in one patient with HIV.
For the Public
For Health Professionals

Saccharin ban under review

Health Canada is considering lifting the country's 30-year-old ban on saccharin, the infamous artificial sweetener that was forbidden for use in food here after it was linked to cancer in lab animals, and is still classified by the department as a suspected carcinogen.

New studies and information about the health and safety of saccharin, perhaps best known as the sweetening agent in Sweet 'N Low, prompted the decision to review its regulatory status in Canada, Health Canada spokesman Paul Duchesne said. ...more

Sunday, February 25, 2007

For cures to colds, it's buyer beware

Cold fX really scored big points last week when it received new approvals by Health Canada. It sure helped their stock price a lot, but will it really change the opinions of pharmacists who don't recommend it? As the article below mentions, it's still buyer beware.

From the Ottawa Citizen:
When Canadians walk into drugstores, they are greeted with more cold remedies than ever before. But just because the aisles are filled with natural health products and drugs that promise to combat the sniffles doesn't mean we're any healthier, pharmacists say.

While Health Canada gave its official seal of approval to the immune-boosting product COLD-fX yesterday, medical experts say consumers still need to take a cautious, "buyer beware" approach when examining solutions to runny noses and coughs. ...more

NDP calls for recognition of foreign credentials

Instead of rehashing yet another story about foreign professionals not being recognized in Canada, let's go over the NDP proposal in regards to pharmacists.

1) Creating an agency for the recognition of foreign credentials.

The Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada is an organization all pharmacists must go through before they are able to get a license, whether they are Canadian or foreign trained. This includes writing the PEBC exam.

2) The establishment of uniform recognition practices across the country.

Pharmacy and the approval of pharmacy licenses has always been under provincial jurisdication, which is the same for physicians, nurses, dentists, veterinarians, and pretty much any other health care profession I can think of. There is a lot more uniformity between provinces now then there was a decade ago when I got my pharmacy license. Back then, it was difficult for even a Canadian pharmacist to move between provinces. I can't see the provincial colleges giving up their current level of authority.

3) Websites to publicize accreditation processes.

The PEBC site has pretty much everything a foreign grad needs to know. It's in both official languages as well. PEBC website

4) More mentorship and training programs for newcomers.

More formal training programs are needed for foreign pharmacists, but I think that as a profession we are doing a lot better than most when it comes to mentorship programs. It's not uncommon to see a foreign pharmacist working in a dispensary assisting a pharmacist, gaining experience that undoubtably helps their chances of passing the PEBC exam. Perhaps some type of tax incentive from the government for hiring these positions could be instituted.

Overall, I think pharmacy is doing better than average compared to other health care professions when it comes to foreign professionals. However, there is room for improvement. I hope Mr. Layton and the public also have to keep in mind that there are some foreign pharmacists that will not meet Canadian standards. We ask a lot of our health care system and it's not unreasonable to expect that all practitioners meet those standards.

From CTV News:
NDP Leader Jack Layton has called on the federal government to do more to recognize the foreign credentials of immigrants to Canada.

"The tragic fact is that we lure people to come here, we give them points for their experience, and their professional credentials," Layton, speaking in front of Toronto's Union Station, said Sunday. ...more

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Cherokees look into mail-order-medicine business

It's been a while since a specific American group has made public noise about buying Canadian drugs. This story is a bit different because the Cherokee tribe argues that they are a soverign nation and not subject to regular American laws. I'm hardly an expert when it comes to these type of matters, but I suspect the big problem they would have is that the Cherokee would want to sell to the general public. That would give the state pharmacy board the jurisdiction to do something about it. We'll see if this actually goes anywhere, but keep in mind that a tribe in Maine tried something similar a while back and never went ahead with a Canadian option.

From the Contra Costa (Calif.) Times:
Cherokee leaders are scouting the moneymaking potential of a business venture other tribes have found lucrative: selling discount prescription drugs by mail.

They might also import less expensive pharmaceuticals from Canada for a future business that could fill prescriptions for tribal members and for people who live far beyond the boundaries of Cherokee land in the mountains of western North Carolina.

But that would set up an age-old conflict between a tribe that argues it has the rights of a sovereign nation that exempt it from federal laws and federal health officials who say selling Canadian drugs in the United States is illegal and, perhaps, unsafe.

"We've definitely looked at the Canada option," said Michell Hicks, principal chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. "That definitely could go under sovereignty." ...more

Health Canada advises consumers not to use herbal sleep supplement Sleepees which contains a habit-forming drug

From Health Canada:
Health Canada is advising consumers not to use a product called Sleepees, because it was found to contain an undeclared drug estazolam, which can be habit-forming when used for as little as a few months. Consumers who may still have this product in their homes are advised to consult with a health care professional before they stop taking the capsules, because of the risk of withdrawal symptoms. ...more

Concern over Xenical sales

Here's another global story. It seems that Australian pharmacists aren't doing a great job of screening patients wanting to buy Xenical. I'm not familiar with what needs to be done by a pharmacist before being allowed to sell Xenical, but I think it must be relatively similar to what is expected of Canadian pharmacists that sell Schedule 2 or "behind the counter" drugs.

From Sky News Australia:
...When put to the test, 80 per cent of pharmacists sold Xenical inappropriately, when they should not.

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia says an 80 per cent failure rate is indefensible, and that pharmacists had contravened the Society's strict guidelines. ...more

Pharmacists Freely Dispense Drugs Without Prescription

This story has nothing to do with Canadian pharmacy, but I think it's worthwhile to pass on pharmacy practice issues in other countries that are interesting. I'm not exactly sure how Saudi pharmacists can get away with selling prescription only mediciations without a prescription. Isn't there some sort of government regulatory body that monitors pharmacy practice?

From the Arab News:
If you live in the Kingdom long enough, chances are you’ll eventually go to a pharmacy and pick up prescription-only medication as easily as picking up a package of Panadol, an over-the-counter, non-narcotic painkiller.

The practice of buying drugs illegally conjures up images of drug addicts finding ways to obtain controlled substances in order to abuse them for a cheap high. However the most “under-the-counter” drugs are antibiotics and other powerful medications used for treating diabetes, heart conditions or depression. ...more

Friday, February 23, 2007

ADHD drug makers in U.S. told to warn patients of heart, mental risks

From CBC News:
Drugs prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder will include guides in the United States to alert patients and parents to the risks of mental and heart problems, including sudden death.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday that it directed the manufacturers of Ritalin, Adderall, Strattera and all other ADHD drugs to develop the guides. ...more

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Will Canada click its way to better health?

From the Globe and Mail:
After more than 20 years as a family physician, Michelle Greiver questions why Canadians can access their bank accounts 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but when they go to the hospital after hours, their medical records are unavailable.

She is among the minority of the nation's doctors who are trying to do something about the health care system's archaic processes, which by one estimate are causing as many as 24,000 unnecessary deaths each year. ...more

Hepatitis drug may be linked with resistant strain of HIV: Health Canada

From CBC News:
Health Canada has received new information about an antiviral hepatitis medication suggesting the drug may have been tied to the onset of a treatment-resistant strain of HIV in one patient with the disease.

Entecavir, which is sold under the brand name Baraclude, was authorized for use in Canada in June 2006 to treat hepatitis B in adults. ...more

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Return

New posts will resume tomorrow -- Thursday, February 22.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Limited posts this week

There won't be any new postings for a couple days, and further updates later this week will be occasional at best. Hopefully posting will be back to its typical frequency next week.

W-B pharmacy to offer flu shots

From The Citizens Voice:
A Wilkes-Barre pharmacy will soon be offering a service that can save a lot of its customers a trip to the doctor.

Beginning this summer, pharmacists at Harrold’s Pharmacy, Old River Road, will start administering common immunizations, like the ones that can help prevent influenza and pneumonia. ...more

Sunday, February 11, 2007

At £50 for four, Viagra goes on sale in the high street

Every now and then, I see a pharmacist prescribing article from elsewhere in the world. Sometimes I post it even though they are not Canadian pharmacy stories. From now on, I intend on posting every one I find. Hopefully Canadian pharmacists can learn from what's happening elsewhere. Perhaps we can copy their successes and avoid their mistakes.

For the first time, men will be able to buy Viagra from a high street chemist without a prescription.

From Wednesday - Valentine's Day - they will be able to walk into Boots and purchase the anti-impotence drug.

Previously they had to see their GP or a specialist doctor to discuss their problem and get a prescription. ...more

Newer arthritis drug shows fewer side-effects

From CBC News:
A newer arthritis drug leads slightly fewer stomach side-effects than older drugs, according to a new study.

People with arthritis often take non-steroidal anti-inflammatories or NSAIDS over a long term. A newer class of NSAIDS called COX-2 inhibitors cause fewer gastrointestinal side-effects such as ulcers and stomach bleeding than other NSAIDs such as Aspirin and ibuprofen. ...more

Pharmacists demystify cold meds

Like many folks stuck in the drugstore cold remedy aisle, Fred Feldman admits he's spent moments that are downright confusing, even Seinfeld-ian.

"You run to the drugstore at 11 p.m. for cough medicine and you're faced with 16,000 different brands," Feldman said. "How do you know, do I have a cough where I want to get rid of the mucus? Do I want the mucus? Who wants mucus?" ...more

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Doctors may not present controversial options

I wonder why there is a concern that that the patient may know or have a connection to the pharmacist in a small town. Wouldn't it be equally likely that the physician has a connection to the family?

From CBC News:
..."Women and girls are finding that quite awkward in areas where they might know the pharmacist or the pharmacist might have a connection to their family," said Anne Rochon Ford of Women and Health Protection. "It's not surprising that you're hearing in your region that they're avoiding going altogether." ...more

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Group slams inconsistent cancer care

From the National Post:
Cancer patients are increasingly having to pay out-of-pocket for important new drugs administered in public hospitals, the latest symptom of Canada's inconsistent, often inadequate funding of cancer treatment, an advocacy group reported yesterday.

In 2005, only Alberta formally required patients to pay for some drugs they received -- usually by intravenous infusion -- in a public health facility, though taxpayers traditionally pick up the tab for hospital-administered medication. The price for new cancer treatments can run into the tens of thousands of dollars. But last year the "self-pay" trend spread to five other provinces, said the Cancer Advocacy Coalition of Canada. ...more

Newer birth control pills raise clot risk, group warns

I don't think this will probably go anywhere either in the States or Canada, but for your information, desogestrel is an active ingredient in the following Canadian products: Linessa, Orthocept, and Marvelon.

From CBC News:
Some newer, low-dose birth control pills double the risk of potentially dangerous blood clots compared with older contraceptives and should be banned, a U.S. consumer group says.

Public Citizen filed a petition with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday to stop the sale of birth control pills containing a type of progestin called desogestrel. ...more

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Seniors, senator fear confiscation of Canadian drugs is new crackdown

From the Orlando Sentinel:
Federal officials confiscated at least 37 packages of medicine from Canada shipped to South Florida consumers in late January, despite an October promise to stop targeting drugs imported for personal use.

A U.S. Food and Drug Administration spokeswoman said in a brief statement last week that Canadian pharmacy shipments were detained at Miami International Airport for strictly routine reasons. ...more

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Province not yet funding cancer drug

It's been months since Gardasil was approved for sale in Canada yet not one province has added it to their standard immunization regime. I don't think the moral debate in Canada about Gardasil will be nearly as intense as in the States. The biggest barrier will be the cost as government health care budgets. The dollars are flowing to other areas right now. There is a lot of lip service to health prevention and health promotion amongst various agencies, but when push comes to shove and money is involved, these things tend to get ignored, which is so unfortunate. If I had a daughter, niece, or sister in the target age group, I wouldn't wait and would pay for their immunization as who knows if/when the government will cover it.

From the Edmonton Journal:
The Alberta government won’t be funding a vaccination for young girls that prevents cervical cancer by protecting them against a sexually transmitted virus until it hears from another national committee later this year.

This week, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization said all girls and women aged nine to 26 should be vaccinated against human papillomavirus or HPV. A vaccine like Gardasil — approved by Health Canada last summer — protects girls and women from being infected with four strains of HPV. The vaccination actually prevents cancer since two of those HPV strains cause about 70 per cent of cervical cancer cases. ...more

Drug Ads: Taking Medicine Never Looked So Good - The Checkout

This is an interesting analysis of prescription drug advertising in the United States. The current advertising rules in Canada have been in place for years and probably could stand to be updated. Ultimately, the ads will affect patients and the types of questions they ask their health care practictioner. I find it telling that virtually every commercial suggests regaining control and winning social approval.

From the Washington Post:
Remember all those tricks drugmakers used to get you to take medicine as a kid? They made cough syrup sweet and acetaminophen chewable. They transformed horse pill vitamins into friendly cartoon characters.

Well, perhaps a better approach would've been to inundate you with ads--ones that depict a fearful and alone child who becomes happy, confident and popular after taking a pill.

That formula, it seems, works well on millions of Americans, who watch as many as 16 hours of prescription drug ads every year -- far more than the average time spent with a primary care physician. ...more