Wednesday, October 31, 2007

FDA proposes new class of medicines

This is an old article, but I thought it was interesting to see that the FDA is considering a "behind the counter" status, much as we have in Canada.

From the Dallas Morning News:
Physicians might be losing their lock on Americans' medicine cabinets.

For years, consumers either showed up at the drugstore with a doctor's prescription or settled for less powerful medications sold over the counter.

Now the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is considering creating a class of medicines dubbed "behind the counter." It would let consumers buy routine medicines that could include birth control pills, cholesterol drugs and migraine medicine without a prescription – as long as they discuss it with a pharmacist first.

Pharmacists and drug companies like the idea; doctors think it's dangerous. If approved, the new drug classification could go into effect as early as next year.

"We believe having certain drugs behind the counter but available only after a consultation with a pharmacist could significantly increase patient access," said Ilisa Bernstein, the FDA's director of pharmacy affairs. ...more

Misadventures in medicating

From the Victoria (BC) Times Colonist:
Many of the patients filling Canada's crowded hospitals are there because of side effects and other problems with their medication -- and most of those drug "misadventures" could be prevented, a new study suggests.

Almost one in four admissions to the internal-medicine ward of British Columbia's largest hospital was the result of adverse drug reactions, doctors prescribing the wrong medicine or similar glitches, the study found.

The lead researcher says he expects similar results from a follow-up look at emergency cases that has just been completed. ...more

A few older posts below

The next four posts below are from a couple of weeks ago that are interesting reads and are not really that time sensitive.

Be aware of cough syrup abuse, parents told

From the Whitehorse (YT) Star:
Porter Creek Secondary School’s drug awareness co-ordinator is warning parents to watch for any over-the-counter medications their kids are bringing home.

Doug Green began his three-year contract for the Canines for Safer Schools program in September.

During an interview Tuesday, he said it’s become clear there are students who are using high doses of what’s known as DXM, or dextromthorphan (the active ingredient in many cough syrups and cold medications), to get high.

“It was one of the first things that hit my radar when I came up here and it wasn’t exclusive to this school,” he said.

Already, he’s spoken to two students about using DXM, but Green stressed it’s not exclusive to Porter Creek Secondary School or even Whitehorse.

It’s an issue in many regions as Internet forums and web pages have sprung up on the subject.

Many of the pro-use sites include suggestions on how much to use to get high given a person’s weight, but don’t point to the negative effects which come with the drug use. ...more

Study questions long-term use of Alzheimer’s drugs

From the National Post:
As the main class of drugs licensed to treat Alzheimer's disease in Canada, they have limited impact on the devastating illness at the best of times. Now a troubling new study suggests that cholinesterase inhibitors may often be prescribed long after they can do any good, potentially exposing patients to unpleasant side effects for no real reason and burdening taxpayer-funded drug plans.

As well, more than a third of patients in the Ontario-based study were at the same time taking other drugs that would counteract the Alzheimer's pills' positive effects.

"We're using them much longer than they've ever been studied for and we're using them longer than they are in other locations," said Dr. Nathan Hermann, the study's lead author and head of the psychiatry division at Toronto's Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. ...more

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Extend dental coverage, doctors urge

From the National Post:
Something must be done to extend health insurance for dental care and prescription drugs to the millions of Canadians who lack such coverage now - even if taxpayers end up footing the bill, the president of Canada's largest doctors group said yesterday.

Brian Day is best known for wanting to give the private sector a bigger role in health care, but after a speech in Toronto, the new head of the Canadian Medical Association advocated essentially expanding the public system. He lamented the fact that some Canadians have health insurance through their workplace that pays for dental care, medication and other health needs not covered by government plans - while many have no such coverage.

"There is something wrong with 30% not getting their drugs paid for, getting a bill when an ambulance takes them to a hospital, not having their crutches paid for," Dr. Day told reporters. "I think they should get it, somehow. And if they can't afford to pay the premiums, the government should pay the premiums for them." ...more

Drug body's advice against provinces paying for MS drugs seen as unfair

From the Canadian Press:
An expert panel's advice that provinces and territories not cover the cost of two Multiple Sclerosis drugs creates a system of two-tiered care, MS advocates say.

They view the recommendation as leaving people with the disease, who don't have private drug insurance, unable to afford medication that could slow progression of the condition and ease the pain they suffer.

Late last month, the Common Drug Review advised that governments not put the MS pain medication Sativex on the list of medicines that provincial and territorial drug plans cover for eligible people. That follows a "do not list" recommendation issued in the spring for Tysabri, a drug that slows progression of the disease.

Those decisions put these drugs out of reach for many people with MS, an expert and a spokesperson for the MS Society argue. ...more

Pharmacy rebates should make generics cheaper for patients: Competition Bureau

From the Canadian Press:
Many generic drug companies compete for space on pharmacists' shelves by offering rebates to the retailers - but those benefits are not finding their way into consumers' wallets in the form of lower prices, a study by the Competition Bureau has found.

The study by the independent agency found that rebates average about 40 per cent of the price the pharmacy is charged on paper for various generic drugs.

"Rebates provide incentives for pharmacies to select a particular manufacturer's product," bureau commissioner Sheridan Scott said Monday in releasing the study results.

Scott said that public sources of information and interviews conducted as part of the study show prices actually paid by pharmacies in most provinces were "on average at least 40 per cent below what the pharmacy was invoiced." ...more

Pope urges pharmacists to reject abortion pill

I thought this was relevant as I'm sure a notable percentage of Canadian pharmacists are Catholic.

From Reuters:
Pharmacists must be allowed to refuse to supply drugs that cause abortion or euthanasia, Pope Benedict said on Monday, calling on health professionals to be "conscientious objectors" against such practices.

The Pope told a convention of Roman Catholic pharmacists that part of their job was to help protect human life from conception until natural death -- the Church teaching that rules out any deliberate termination of pregnancy or euthanasia.

"It is not possible to anaesthetise the conscience, for example, when it comes to molecules whose aim is to stop an embryo implanting or to cut short someone's life," the Pope said. ...more

Monday, October 29, 2007

Chronically ill lobby for national drug plan

From the Edmonton Journal:
Early retirement doesn't look so rosy to George Rozon, when it means the end of his employee drug insurance plan that pays thousands of dollars on his medication bills.

Rozon's plan has been paying the $7,500 annual cost for his diabetes and heart medication, as well as covering drug costs for his wife.

Moving to Nova Scotia to be closer to family is also a concern. Alberta covers his $2,000 monthly bill for anti-rejection drugs needed after a kidney transplant in 2001. He doesn't know if he will qualify for such coverage in the Maritimes. ...more

Pharmacists caught in the squeeze

From the London (Ont.) Free Press:
When the pharmacist leaves his store for a break, he makes sure to take off the white jacket that identifies his profession.

"I don't want people to know I am a pharmacist," he says. "I have kids coming up to me and bugging me. 'Can you get me some Oxy?' "

It can be just as tense inside the pharmacy.

Occasionally, obvious members of outlaw motorcycle clubs have come in with legitimate doctor's prescriptions for large amounts of OxyContin, he says.

Rather than question them or the doctor, he has filled them out. ...more

New Zealand example touted at hearing on universal drug plan

From the Saskatoon Star Phoenix:
The campaign for a national drug plan arrived in Saskatoon smack in the middle of a provincial election where drug coverage is an issue.

"It is a coincidence that we are here during an election campaign," said Michael McBane of the Canadian Health Coalition in Saskatoon on Thursday.

The Saskatoon stop is the first of 13 in a cross-Canada tour designed to gather personal stories from people about their struggles to pay for prescription drugs. Planning for the hearings began last January, said McBane.

And while those making presentations on Thursday were reminded to not use the hearing for partisan purposes, NDP Premier Lorne Calvert was one of about a dozen presenters. ...more

Study to probe whether acne drug can slow MS

From CTV News:
Researchers in Calgary are preparing to begin a new study to see whether a commonly available acne medication could help delay the crippling effects of multiple sclerosis.

The medication, called minocycline, has been available for over 30 years. If it's proven effective in delaying the progress of MS, it could offer an inexpensive option for the treatment of early stages of the disease.

A small study on 10 patients a few years ago yielded promising results. Now, clinical researchers in 14 Canadian centres will be taking an in-depth look at the drug in a $4-million, two-year study funded by the MS Society of Canada.

Minocycline is a prescription antibiotic used to control acne by killing the germs that prompt outbreaks. But the drug also offers anti-inflammatory properties, which researchers believe are responsible for its ability to slow the progress of MS. ...more

FDA says safety board recommends halt to Canadian-led drug trial

From the Globe and Mail:
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has revealed that the safety board overseeing a large Canadian-led trial has recommended the trial be stopped because of concerns the drug being tested increases the risk of death.

The FDA statement says that the Data Safety Monitoring Board has recommended no new patients be enrolled in the trial.

The study, which goes by the acronym BART, is led by Ottawa researcher Dr. Paul Hebert.

It was designed to test the drug aprotinin — marketed as Trasylol by Bayer Inc. — against other drugs used to reduce blood loss during heart bypass surgery. ...more

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Part D killing small pharmacies

It's not a Canadian story, but I thought it would be a good idea to mention some of the difficulties that independent pharmacies are feeling in the States. Would a Canadian national pharmacare program have similar issues? I think it's possible.

From Newsday (NY):
While I was on the phone with Frank Deluco, a Staten Island pharmacist, he had a typical emergency.

The customer was in pain and needed his prescription quickly but couldn't figure out his benefits under Part D. Deluco filled the prescription and helped relieve the elderly customer's pain and confusion.

But Deluco, 56, whose Delco Pharmacy has been in business 40 years, may be a dying breed; thousands of neighborhood drugstores like his represent an endangered species. Deluco explained one reason why: A 90-day supply of the drug for his customer costs him $216 and change, but he'll be reimbursed only about $214 by the insurer and the Pharmaceutical Benefit Manager (PBM) he deals with.

"We're supposed to make at least $10 or $15 as a dispensing fee," he said. "But we get $1.50 or $2, so we lose money most of the time and we have no power to get a better price from the PBMs. And they're often late in paying us for the prescriptions we fill." ...more

Friday, October 26, 2007

For real relief, treat cold symptoms one by one

This article presents a key piece of information that I have given parents for years -- treat children with single entity over the counter products. Avoid the multiple ingredient products and focus on the most problematic symptom.

From the Globe and Mail:
Last Friday, an advisory panel to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration called for all over-the-counter pediatric cough and cold medicines to be banned.

The advice from the independent experts was unequivocal: These drugs should never be given to children under the age of 6 because they are potentially dangerous.

The panel members were also clear about this key point: The drugs don't work in children. They don't make a cough go away and they don't alleviate any other cold symptoms. Never have and never will.

Most manufacturers have voluntarily withdrawn some products from the market, namely those aimed at children under the age of 2. ...more

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Doctors could use more info on drug costs: study

I have to concur with this article. Generally, physicians are somewhat unaware of the price of medications. I just had an example of this in my practice where a physician was incorrect in their price estimate of a drug by thousands of dollars per month of treatment. Perhaps a pharmacist working collaboratively with a physician could help these types of situations. Ultimately, costs could be contained and patient outcomes could be improved.

From CTV News:
Soaring drug bills in Canada could be cut if doctors simply paid attention to the cost of the medications they prescribe, says a new federal report.

The study, commissioned by Industry Canada, found that Canadian physicians are generally oblivious to drug prices and often prescribe an expensive pharmaceutical when a cheap one would do.

"In Canada, there is no formal mechanism that credibly brings cost into the physician's decision-making process'' when issuing prescriptions, says the report by IMS Health Consulting Inc. ...more

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Expert warns against cheap vitamins

From the Victoria (BC) Times Colonist:
Canadians are taking a chance on their health by trading their strong dollars for cheaper dietary supplements across the U.S. border, says B.C. vitamin expert Lyle MacWilliam.

Canada has some of the toughest regulations in the world, he says, while the U.S. lets the industry regulate itself -- "a regulatory loophole that you could drive a Mac truck through."

Health Canada demands that supplements meet pharmaceutical-style standards, while the U.S. Food and Drug Administration lets manufacturers classify supplements as food -- a much less rigorous standard.

"There is a real cause for concern when it comes to U.S. products -- there's a lot of room for error," says MacWilliam, a biochemist and former MLA and MP who was among the experts who developed new regulations that went into force in 2004 at a cost to the federal government of $40 million. ...more

Stroke therapy fights cell death

From the Globe and Mail:
In recent years, huge advances have been made in the treatment of the most common type of stroke in which a clot blocks the flow of blood to part of the brain.

If a patient gets to a hospital within three hours of the onset of symptoms, doctors can administer a clot-busting drug that quickly restores blood flow and reduces the chances of long-term disability.

But there is a catch: A lot of patients don't make it to an emergency room in time to receive this brain-preserving therapy.

A new study suggests there may be another option for the latecomers. People treated with the antibiotic minocycline within six to 24 hours of the stroke suffered far fewer long-term disabilities than patients who didn't get the medication. ...more

Man pleads guilty to beating, locking pharmacist in trunk

From the Montreal Gazette:
Roger Grenier, who has a long history of violent robberies, doesn't remember much about his latest heist, in which he beat and robbed Outremont pharmacist Marie-Josée Caron, then stuffed her into the trunk of her car.

But yesterday, the 54-year-old Grenier, fresh from a psychiatric evaluation at the Philippe Pinel Institute, pleaded guilty to forcible confinement, armed robbery, aggravated assault and possession of a prohibited weapon. ...more

Doctors and pharmacists more likely to be addicted

From the Columbus (Ga.) Ledger Enquirer:
Tom was ashamed to meet the other members of his new therapy group for prescription drug addicts. After all, he was a pharmacist with more than 30 years experience.

He was in for a surprise.

"The room was full of doctors, dentists, nurses, medical technicians," says Tom, who chose not to use his real name. "That's when I realized just what a huge problem this really is."

In fact, doctors and pharmacists suffer from prescription drug addiction at a higher rate than the general population.

The American Medical Association estimates that 10-15 percent of doctors and pharmacists suffer from prescription drug addiction. By comparison, less than 5 percent of U.S. residents use a painkiller nonmedically in a year, according to the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. ...more

Friday, October 19, 2007

Don't use cold medicines in children under 6: U.S. government advisers

From CBC News:
Cold and cough medicines don't work in children and shouldn't be used in those younger than six, U.S. federal health advisers recommended Friday.

The over-the-counter medicines should be studied further, even after decades in which children have received billions of doses a year, the outside experts told the Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA isn't required to follow the advice of its panels of outside experts but does so most of the time.

"The data that we have now is they don't seem to work," said Sean Hennessy, a University of Pennsylvania epidemiologist, one of the FDA experts gathered to examine the medicines sold to treat common cold symptoms. The recommendation applies to medicines containing one or more of the following ingredients: decongestants, expectorants, antihistamines and antitussives. ...more

MRSA superbug a bigger killer than AIDS

From (Aus.):
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in the United States says MRSA infections (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) are more prevalent and invasive than previously thought.

In the CDC's first overall estimate of the invasive disease it is estimated that more than 94,000 Americans are infected by the super bug MRSA

MRSA is carried on the skin or in the nose of healthy people and has now escaped the hospital setting and is in the wider community.

Staph infections, including MRSA, usually start as small red bumps that look like pimples, boils or spider bites; these can quickly turn into deep, painful abscesses that require surgical draining. ...more

Revoke druggist's licence, college told

From the Toronto Star:
Two members of a professional review panel felt disgraced Hamilton pharmacist Abadir Nasr should never be allowed to dispense drugs again, feeling he's beyond rehabilitation.

They didn't agree with the majority of their colleagues on an Ontario College of Pharmacists five-member disciplinary committee. The committee ruled last month that Nasr, 30, could get his licence back after a one-year suspension as long as he underwent a public reprimand, paid $12,500 in costs to the college and took remedial training.

Yesterday, the college released the reasons for its decision.

Nasr had pleaded guilty to a series of professional misconduct charges in connection with his practices at the King West Pharmacy on King Street West, which resulted in a number of criminal charges against him in 2005. He was acquitted on all the charges this year, including allegations he dispensed fake heart medication to dozens of unsuspecting patients. ...more

Taking care of old drugs

From the Georgia (BC) Straight:
Taken a look in your medicine cabinet lately? If you're like me, a tangle of old tubes, bottles, and blister packs is collecting dust on the shelves.

As it turns out, I've been wrong to hang on to my old medicine, but right not to throw it in the garbage or flush it down the toilet. According to many environmental and government organizations, including Health Canada, drugs sitting in landfills or drifting in waterways can be harmful. A section on the Health Canada Web site called "It's Your Health" ( cautions readers about the risks. "There is growing evidence," the site reads, "that throwing out or flushing into the water system prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs and other health products may have a harmful effect on the environment.…The presence of these substances in the environment is emerging as an important national and international issue." The site also notes that such substances may add to the problem of antibiotic resistance. ...more

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Do you need a daily dose?

From the Victoria (BC) Times Colonist:
Millions of Canadians begin the day by popping a multi-vitamin/mineral pill.

It's a cheap and easy form of health insurance, right? Or is it too much of a good thing?

There's a lot of confusion about the ubiquitous little pills.

Health Canada won't go out on a limb and recommend them for anyone but women of childbearing age.

The Dietitians of Canada suggest a multi-vitamin for some segments of the population, but advocate food first.

The B.C. Ministry of Health website makes multi-vitamins sound like a good idea even for those eating well: "If you eat a healthy diet, taking a daily multivitamin/mineral supplement may be all you need to do in most cases." ...more

NDP drug plan will lead way for rest of Canada: Calvert

It sounds like prescription drug coverage will be a big issue in the upcoming Saskatchewan election. I don't know how a universal $15 copay could possibly be sustainable over the long term. Perhaps the only way is to greatly restrict the list of eligible drugs. Of course, this begs the question, if you have a great copay but your drug isn't covered, what good is your plan? I'd rather see a percentage instead of a flat copay. This creates a bit of price awareness and creates an incentive for the patient to at least be thinking about cost.

From the Saskatoon Star Phoenix:
NDP Leader Lorne Calvert threw down the gauntlet over his party's promise of a universal drug plan Tuesday, casting the Nov. 7 election as a fight over fundamental principles.

Responding to what he said was "not unexpected" criticism that has been levelled since the plan was unveiled on the first day of the campaign, Calvert framed the debate as a rerun of the battle over the introduction of medicare by the CCF governments of Tommy Douglas and Woodrow Lloyd in the 1960s.

"Each time we've tried to extend universal benefits through medicare there's been criticism. It tends to come from the same source every time. It's coming from the right wing, it's coming from the Sask. Party. That's not surprising. This is not a single issue campaign but obviously this is one of our key visions for the future of Saskatchewan and if, I may say, for the future of Canada," Calvert told reporters after a rally at his campaign headquarters.

The NDP government introduced a seniors' prescription drug plan in this spring's budget at an annual cost of $53 million. Making that program universal and capping prices at $15 per prescription for all Saskatchewan residents will cost the government $150 million at the start, growing to $205 million by 2011-12. ...more

HIV-blocking drug offers hope – doctors

From the Halifax Chronicle Herald:
The Canadian launch this week of a new medication that prevents HIV from entering fresh cells will help many people living with the virus, says a Halifax infectious diseases specialist.

Dr. David Haase said Tuesday that maraviroc, brand-named Celsentri, is a new class of drug that’s taken in tablet form. It’s been approved by Health Canada and was introduced into the marketplace Monday.

Maraviroc prevents entry of HIV "into the cells that usually infect the white blood cells," said Dr. Haase of the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre. ...more

Super ear infection resists approved drugs

A new super bug that causes acute ear infections in children has emerged that is immune to all antibiotics currently approved for children.

The strain of highly drug-resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae requires aggressive therapy, either surgery or an antibiotic not approved for children that has caused joint damage in young animals.

So far, the bug appears to be occurring in only a very small proportion of children. But there is concern the multi-drug resistant organism could spread and cause other, more serious problems, including pneumonia, blood stream infections or meningitis. ...more

Gilead's Atripla approved in Canada

From the San Francisco Business Times:
Gilead Sciences Inc. said Atripla -- the three-in-one HIV treatment developed in concert with Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. -- was approved by Canadian drug regulators for use by adults with HIV-1 infection.

Atripla combines Gilead's (NASDAQ: GILD) HIV drug Truvada -- itself a combination of the Foster City-based company's Viread and Emtriva -- with Bristol-Myers Squibb's (NYSE: BMY) Sustiva. ...more

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

New drug approved in Canada to treat HIV, first in 10 years

From the Canadian Press:
Health Canada has approved the first drug in the first new class of HIV medications to be brought to market in Canada in a decade.

Celsentri - the brand name for the drug maraviroc - is the first of a class of drugs called CCR5 antagonists to gain regulatory approval.

The drug, made by Pfizer Canada Inc., blocks entry of HIV into the immune system's T cells, reducing the level of the virus in the body. It is approved for use only in people who have already been on other HIV medications; it is not licensed for people who are just starting anti-retroviral drug therapy. ...more

Jean Coutu Group swings to Q1 profit of $8.3M, eyes more sales to older consumers

From the Canadian Press:
Debt-free and itching to grow after selling its U.S. stores, Jean Coutu Group (TSX:PJC.A) plans to preserve its dominance in Quebec while eventually adopting a new store name for expansion in English Canada.

Over the next three years, the pharmacy chain plans to add 50 stores in Quebec, remodel many others and make a concerted effort to enter neighbouring markets.

"We will definitely work hard to maintain our leadership position here in the province of Quebec," newly installed CEO Francois Coutu said in an interview following the company's annual meeting.

"Definitely within the three-year (strategic) program that I am mentioning we'll be a force in Ontario." ...more

Friday, October 12, 2007

Drug makers pull cold remedies aimed at toddlers

From the Globe and Mail:
Drug makers voluntarily pulled a range of cold medicines aimed at children under the age of two off the market in the United States on Thursday, and at least two Canadian companies have followed suit.

In tandem, Health Canada issued a statement Thursday with recommendations for the appropriate use of non-prescription cough and cold products in children.

“Life-threatening adverse events, including unintentional overdose, have been reported to Health Canada in association with the use of these products in children under two years of age,” the statement said. ...more

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Wrong Rx more likely from busy or older docs

From the Globe and Mail:
Doctors who are overworked, have been trained in other countries or who have been practising longer are more likely to prescribe antibiotics inappropriately, according to new Canadian research that highlights a major problem facing public-health officials.

The study, published today in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, assessed the prescribing habits of hundreds of Quebec doctors over an eight-year period, identifying those who prescribe antibiotics in ways that can lead to drug resistance.

With more illness-causing bacteria growing immune to treatments, and fewer new bacteria-fighting drugs being developed, public-health officials fear that one day there will be no effective way to halt the spread of infectious diseases such as tuberculosis.

"At some point, we will run out of therapies," said Genevieve Cadieux, the study's co-author and a researcher at McGill University's department of epidemiology and biostatistics. "The most daunting concern is that we're not going to have effective drugs to treat illnesses." ...more

Health Canada to advise against cough, cold remedies for infants

From CBC News:
Health Canada is expected to issue an advisory warning people not to give over-the-counter cold and cough medications to children under two and adjust labels to reflect the concerns, CBC News has learned.

The warning, which will come within days, follows an American study that says the medications have a questionable benefit and, in some cases, could be dangerous.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration completed an internal review of serious and life-threatening effects and deaths in young children dating back to 1969. ...more

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Health Canada pulls market approval for drug Prexige, citing liver problems

From the Canadian Press:
Health Canada has ordered the anti-inflammatory drug Prexige off the market, citing the potential for severe liver-related side-effects.

The department said it was stopping sales and would cancel market authorization for lumiracoxib, which is sold as Prexige by Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc.

People taking the drug are being instructed to talk with their doctors about finding an alternate pain relief therapy.

"Given the availability of alternative treatment not known to present a similar level of risk, Health Canada decided that the safest option was to withdraw the drug from the market," department spokesperson Alastair Sinclair said in e-mailed responses to questions. ...more

Playing through cancer

From the Globe and Mail:
Two decades ago, a diagnosis of chronic myelogenous leukemia was a death sentence.

But new drugs introduced in the past six years mean that Toronto Maple Leafs forward Jason Blake and thousands of others with CML can expect to live full and active lives.

In fact, experts say the successes with CML could hold promise as a model for treating other cancers. Because scientists have identified the specific mutation that causes CML, they have developed drugs that target only the cancerous cells — an elusive goal for many cancer researchers.

"There's a lot of hope out there," says Hildy Dillon, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's vice-president for patient services and disease programs. "It's a very exciting area in terms of cancer research." ...more

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Doctors write 300,000 prescriptions for drug

From the Globe and Mail:
As a senior manager at the Calgary company that makes popular SMART Boards, Ken Dreger is a no-nonsense, can-do type of guy.

He has taken the same approach to his battle with prostate cancer, and as a co-founder of the group ProstAid Warriors. “I'm not just going to sit back and die without a fight,” Mr. Dreger said. “My goal is to get to 65.”

He is 63 today.

Mr. Dreger was diagnosed with cancer in 2000, and underwent surgery to remove his prostate gland. Treatment failed, as it does for about one in five men.

He was prescribed androgen-deprivation therapy (ADT) to block the production of testosterone. These drugs are the last hope for patients whose cancer is spreading, but they cause chemical castration. ...more

Canada's health care workers migrate to cities and Alberta: report

From CBC News:
Canadian health-care workers are leaving rural areas and moving to larger centres, according to a report released Thursday by the Canadian Institute for Health Information.

The report, "Distribution and Internal Migration of Canada's Health Care Workforce," tracks migratory patterns of physicians, dentists, pharmacists, physiotherapists and registered nurses within Canada over a 15-year period, between 1986 and 2001.

The report finds that each year, rural areas of Canada lose on average 1.3 per cent of their doctors to urban areas, with the time period between 1996 and 2001 showing the biggest decline. ...more

Victims cry foul, call acquittal of defendants in tainted-blood trial ?ludicrous?

From the Canadian Press:
Activists and lawyers for victims of the worst public-health disaster in Canadian history lashed out in anger Monday after an Ontario judge acquitted the former national medical director of the Canadian Red Cross and three other doctors of criminal charges in the tainted-blood scandal.

Critics called it "ludicrous" that the court acquitted Dr. Roger Perrault, 70, along with the three doctors and a New Jersey pharmaceutical company for their alleged roles in the blood scandal that left thousands of Canadians infected with HIV or hepatitis C.

Perrault's lawyer, however, called the ruling an "absolute vindication" and a "complete exoneration." ...more

Ground broken on $909M Edmonton Clinic

From the Edmonton Journal:
Construction is set to begin on the $909-million Edmonton Clinic, a unique "Mayo North" where patients will have quick access to numerous specialists during one visit and where nurses, doctors, pharmacists and other health professionals will all be trained together.

Monday's official groundbreaking marks the beginning of the largest ever project for Capital Health and the University of Alberta. ...more