Saturday, June 30, 2007

Sask. health workers prepared to walk off job

From CTV News:
Health professionals in Saskatchewan are staying on the job for now, but their union warns that a walkout will be inevitable Tuesday unless a deal is reached.

Union officials met today in Saskatoon to decide what action to take after contract talks broke down. Chris Driol of the Health Sciences Association of Saskatchewan says the 2,700 members will work through the holiday weekend in case there are any emergencies. ...more

9 pharmacists in N.S. earn national praise

From the Halifax Chronicle Herald:
Nine Nova Scotia pharmacists have been recognized for their contributions to the profession in Canada in the past century.

They are among 100 Canadians singled out by the Canadian Pharmacists Association in its 100th year. ...more

Friday, June 29, 2007

Union for Sask health workers says job action coming after talks break down

From Canoe.ca:
Talks to avert a strike by health-care professionals in Saskatchewan broke off Thursday, but the rhetoric was heating up as union officials said they have no choice but to start job action.

The negotiations after a conciliator said the health organizations and the Health Sciences Association were too far apart to reach a deal. "At this time it seems that there's no further point in the two parties meeting," said association president Chris Driol.

"We really have no choice at this point but to engage in job action because our best efforts at the negotiating table haven't got us where we need to go."

One of the biggest sticking points was over money aimed at enticing experienced workers to stay in the province and not flee to other jurisdictions for more cash.

The union is looking for eight per cent over two years and it wants an additional four per cent retention money for senior staff.

The Saskatchewan Association of Health Organizations has offered 12 per cent over three years, with an additional half per cent retention adjustment for all workers in the first year. ...more

Patients survive drug mistake

From the Waterloo (Ont.) Record:
Six people who were sent to hospital this week after a Waterloo pharmacist over-prescribed their methadone treatment were lucky to have survived, say experts who specialize in the drug.

Overdosing on methadone -- a narcotic drug used to treat opiate addicts and severe pain sufferers -- can be fatal. In this case, the six who started showing signs of overdose Monday after taking their prescription from University Pharmacy on King Street in Waterloo were treated at hospital and released. Although the store's pharmacist declined to comment yesterday, police say the patients were immediately contacted and advised to go to hospital once the pharmacist realized the error.

Detectives decided charges will not be laid in the case, said police representative Olaf Heinzel.

The six suffered minor physical complaints, mostly discomfort, police said, before receiving treatment to counteract the overdose.

Dr. Nathan Frank, director of the Kitchener methadone clinic, which treats some 400 patients, said there is not much room for error when dealing with methadone, and the dangers are more pronounced with people whose bodies have not yet developed a tolerance for it. ...more

Doctors' poor penmanship can have deadly results

From the Globe and Mail:
The abysmal handwriting of physicians is the stuff of legend among nurses and pharmacists. But the result - frequent medication errors due to drug names and dosages misread from doctors' chicken scratch - is deadly serious.

New research has driven home just how harmful badly written prescriptions and other transcription errors can be.

The study, published in the journal Health Services Research, shows that having doctors write electronic prescriptions - by typing them into a computer rather than writing them by hand - reduces medication errors by a staggering 66 per cent.

"These medication errors are very painful for doctors, as well as the patients. Nobody wants to make a mistake," said Tatyana Shamliyan, a research associate at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, and the lead author of the paper.

While poor handwriting is a major issue, it is not the only one, she said. Medication errors can occur because of transcription problems, poor communication, incomplete medical records and drug reactions.What is clear, though, is that a computerized physician order entry (CPOE) system dramatically reduces mistakes. ...more

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Mom's Antidepressant Use Poses Little Danger to Baby

From Forbes:
Pregnant women who use antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are not increasing the risk of most birth defects for their newborns, new research suggests.

Drugs within this class -- which include Celexa, Paxil, Prozac and Zoloft -- may increase the risk for certain defects, but, even then, the absolute risk is extremely small, concluded two studies published in the June 28 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

"It's a fairly reassuring message for women who need antidepressants and are pregnant or who plan on becoming pregnant," said Carol Louik, lead author of the first paper and an assistant professor of epidemiology at Boston University's Slone Epidemiology Center. "We saw no large risks, and the fewer elevated risks that we did see would only lead to very small absolute risks." ...more

Sensipar® no longer indicated for chronic kidney disease patients (stages 3 and 4) not receiving dialysis

From Health Canada:
The following updated information has been provided recently to healthcare professionals to review with their patients when prescribing Sensipar®.

Sensipar® has been authorized in Canada since 2004 for the treatment of secondary hyperparathyroidism (HPT) in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD). Recently, a study was conducted with the intent of providing further evidence of the efficacy and safety of cinacalcet in patients with secondary HPT and CKD who are not receiving dialysis. The results of this study showed that while cinacalcet effectively lowered PTH, the incidence of serum calcium levels below the lower limit of the normal range (8.4 mg/dL [2.1 mmol/L]) with cinacalcet treatment was higher than that observed in patients with secondary HPT and CKD receiving dialysis. As such, Amgen considers that this study has not provided evidence of a positive risk to benefit profile of use of cinacalcet in patients with secondary HPT and CKD who are not receiving dialysis.
For the public
For health professionals

Voluntary Recall of One Lot of Fluotic® (sodium fluoride) 20 mg tablets and Notice of Product Discontinuation

From Health Canada:
This letter is to inform you that sanofi-aventis Canada Inc., with agreement from Health Canada, has undertaken a voluntary recall of one lot of Fluotic® (sodium fluoride) 20 mg tablets, bottle of 100: lot number 8034613 (expiry date: September 2008). This voluntary recall is intended to address a quality issue. In in-vitro tests, the disintegration time of some tested samples in gastric fluid-like solution was faster than usual. Although the product is not likely to cause any adverse health consequences to the patient, there is potential risk that an early disintegration of sodium fluoride in the gastric environment may increase the risk of gastric toxicity such as gastric irritation, risk of bleeding or gastric ulcer. ...more

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Echinacea halves risk of catching cold: review

From CBC News:
Echinacea, a herb widely used to fight the sniffles, helps reduce the risk of getting the common cold and shortens its duration, a new review suggests.

In the July issue of the medical journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases, researchers analyzed the results of 14 published trials on echinacea, or purple coneflower. The beneficial effect was seen after combining results from 1,600 participants.

Echinacea refers to flowers, roots and stems of nine related plants that are native to North America. Extracts are thought to boost the body's immune system.

Taking the supplements seemed to reduce the risk of developing a cold by 58 per cent and shortened duration of a cold by an average of 1.4 days, the team reported. ...more

Doctors, retailers square off

The building conflict between physicians and pharmacy/retail medical offices in the United States seemed somewhat inevitable. I notice some definite parallels between this debate the pharmacist prescribing debate in Alberta. Physician claims of conflict of interest and safety to the public are countered by suggestions that docs are just trying to protect their exclusive domain.

From the Chicago Tribune:
In an attempt to ratchet up scrutiny on the proliferation of in-store clinics being opened by retail giants, the American Medical Association said Monday that it will ask state and federal agencies to launch widespread investigations into the fast-growing patient-care model.

The AMA's policymaking House of Delegates, meeting in Chicago, said lack of regulation at retail clinics might be fostering liability concerns, health risks and potential conflicts of interest between the clinics' nurse practitioners who order prescriptions and the pharmacies that fill them. Often, the clinic is near the pharmacy counter in those retail stores.

The AMA, the nation's largest doctor group, is reacting to moves by retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Deerfield-based Walgreen Co. that will effectively bring several thousand retail clinics to U.S. consumers in the coming years. One retail clinic operator run by giant CVS/Caremark Corp. was concerned enough about the AMA's clout on the issue that it deployed an executive here to defend its interests.

AMA action on such topics means the group and its affiliated state societies will push for increased regulation and attempt to slow the growth of the clinics. One clinic operator said Monday the AMA's move would do just that and have an adverse effect by slowing a new concept that increases patient access to medical care and offers patients a convenient option.

"Our primary focus is patient safety and patient care, and the retail clinics have a different mission of selling products and prescriptions," said Dr. Rodney Osborn, a Peoria anesthesiologist who is president of the Illinois State Medical Society, an AMA delegation among the most outspoken on scrutiny of retail clinics. "We want these clinics to be accountable." ...more

Experts warn against overdoing it on cancer-fighting vitamin D

From the Halifax Daily News:
After the recent flurry of excitement about the cancer-fighting benefits of vitamin D, the Nova Scotia division of the Canadian Cancer Society wants to warn people not to overdo it.

"Sometimes when people hear this really great news, they think that if a little is good, then more should be better, and that is not the case," said Meg McCallum, director of programs for the Canadian Cancer Society in Nova Scotia.

The Canadian Cancer Society announced at the beginning of June that adults who take 1,000 international units of vitamin D a day could cut their chances of breast, colorectal and prostate cancer by up to 60 per cent.

This recommendation should be followed in the fall and winter months, when natural light in the northern hemisphere is low and the body's ability to produce the vitamin decreases. ...more

Saturday, June 23, 2007

New treatment promising for Parkinson's disease

From CTV News:
In what could be a breakthrough in the treatment of Parkinson's disease, an experimental treatment using gene therapy has delivered promising results, improving the symptoms of 12 patients.

The study was the first-ever on the use of gene therapy to battle Parkinson's disease, a disease marked by tremors, rigidity in their limbs, and slowness of movement.

In the small study of 11 men and one woman, surgeons from New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center injected a harmless gene-bearing virus into the brains of the patients. Over the course of one year, they found that the treatment improved motor function for Parkinson's patients without side effects. ...more

Friday, June 22, 2007

N.S. unveils cancer plan

From the Calgary Sun:
Nova Scotia became the first province yesterday to unveil plans for a publicly funded vaccine to protect young girls from the human papilloma virus -- the leading cause of cervical cancer.

The announcement came as obstetricians and gynecologists from across Canada warned more young women will die from the disease unless others act quickly.

The federal budget included $300 million for such programs.

Beginning this fall, some 6,000 Nova Scotian girls in Grade 7 will be given the option of receiving three doses of Gardasil. ...more

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Jury orders $2M award

Here's a disturbing article of gender discrimination and corporate bullying in the pharmacy workplace. It's not a Canadian story, but it's definitely relevant to pharmacy.

From the Berkshire (Mass.) Eagle:
A Berkshire Superior Court jury yesterday concluded that Wal-Mart had discriminated against a female pharmacist, paying her less than her male colleagues and firing her when she complained.

The jury awarded Cynthia Haddad almost $2 million as compensation for lost and future wages and to punish Wal-Mart's behavior. The verdict followed roughly eight hours of deliberations that capped a two-week trial.

"It sends a message that you can't treat people poorly because of who they are," said David Belfort, one of Haddad's attorneys. "The verdict makes it clear that the jury felt that not only was there misconduct, but it ought to be punished." ...more

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Vitamin D a hot-ticket item; Pharmacy shelves picked clean since U.S. cancer study released

From the Sault (Ont.) Star:
Psst, need some vitamin D?

Consumers craving the so-called "sunshine drug" may have to find some clandestine sources after shelves across Sault Ste. Marie have been laid bare in the week since a United States study linked vitamin D to reduced risk for colorectal, breast and prostate cancer.

"We were done two days ago. We tried ordering more, but our wholesaler in Toronto has it on back order as well," said Manuel Dos Reis, pharmacist and proprietor of The Medicine Shoppe on Great Northern Road earlier this week.

Shoppers Drug Mart on Second Line West had also gone through its stock by Saturday, a day after results from the four-year study were publicized.

Researchers at Creighton University in Nebraska said of 1,024 women over 55 who completed the trial, those randomly assigned to take calcium and vitamin D and who had higher levels of both in their blood were 77 per cent less likely to develop cancer after the first year compared to those taking placebos or calcium alone. ...more

Vitamin D hoopla has researchers debating what's next

From the Vancouver Sun:
The Jean Coutu pharmacy in Montreal is a long way from the bucolic cornfields of Nebraska. A simple little pill is what they have in common.

The drugstore's vitamin D supply ran dry after the release of a small but groundbreaking study last week involving 1,179 white, older Nebraskan women. It found the vitamin can dramatically cut the risk of cancer.

The run on vitamin D reported in Canadian pharmacies - after the Canadian Cancer Society, reacting to the study, recommended all adults consider taking the supplement - is just the first ramification of a report that may profoundly affect efforts to prevent cancer.

In the wake of the Nebraska study, researchers are scrambling to organize an international meeting later this year to make a plan on how to best exploit recent vitamin D discoveries. ...more

Closure of clinic hard on patients with no doctor; 'It shouldn't be this way,' says local pharmacist

From the Brantford (Ont.) Expositor:
The announced closure of the Terrace Hill Walk-In Clinic on July 1 will only worsen an already serious problem of patients having trouble getting repeat refills on their medication, says a city pharmacist.

Anwar Dost, who runs Cenpro Pharmacy on Brant Avenue and University Pharmacy on Colborne Street, said Friday the closure will exacerbate a problem he's been bringing to the attention of area politicians for some time.

Dost explained that since pharmacists are not legally authorized to give repeats on medication that has run out, he and others have had to direct so-called "orphaned" patients without regular family doctors to the city's two walk-in clinics at Terrace Hill and Fairview Drive to get authorization. ...more

HPV vaccine 'hysteria' hits Canada

From the Windsor (Ont.) Star:
Gardasil, the vaccine against cervical cancer recommended for girls and women aged nine to 26 years, is flying off drug store shelves across Canada.

Designed to protect women from cancer caused by the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus, it was approved one year ago by Health Canada but must be prescribed by a doctor or nurse practitioner.

Merck Frosst, the sole manufacturer of Gardasil, has distributed more than 90,000 doses in Canada through the end of April, and close to half of them were in Ontario, said spokeswoman Sheila Murphy.

Shoppers Drug Mart, Canada's leading drugstore chain, has noticed a four-fold increase in prescriptions across Canada since last December, said spokeswoman Pat Chapman. Although some are concerned that giving girls the vaccine may lead them to believe they can safely have sex, medical officials say the benefits far outweigh such concerns. ...more

Quebec lifts freeze on prescription drug prices

From the Montreal Gazette:
The Quebec government is lifting its 13-year freeze on prescription drugs reimbursed through provincial drug plans.

Health Minister Philippe Couillard, who first announced the hikes in January, made it official Monday, saying the freeze was "unsustainable."

"You isolate yourself from the global economy and you end up paying the price," Couillard told reporters.

The increases go into effect on Friday for about 364 products, mostly generic drugs. The cost of about 754 products increased on April 18.

The overall criteria is that drug prices remain the lowest in the county, Couillard said.

A total of 3.2 million Quebecers are covered by the province's public drug plan, the rest by private plans. ...more

Young Canadian children are being prescribed anti-psychotic drugs

From the National Post:
Antipsychotics are being widely prescribed to children with behaviour and mood problems, with a significant proportion going to children under nine, new research shows.

Ninety-four per cent of 176 child psychiatrists in Canada surveyed are prescribing powerful drugs known as atypical antipsychotics for a variety of disorders and symptoms, including anxiety, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and "poor frustration tolerance."

While most prescriptions were for children 13 and older, a "surprising" number were for the very young: 12% of all prescriptions were for children aged eight or under, including three-year-olds. ...more

Cobourg resident named a Centennial Pharmacist

From Northumberland (Ont.) Today:
For its 100th anniversary this year, the Canadian Pharmacists Association invited nominations from its 7,000 members for nominations for 100 past or present members to be designated Centennial Pharmacists.

Cobourg resident Bill Wensley has been so declared. And the work he has done has helped shape many of the pharmacy and health-care services we enjoy today.

While on the Ontario Council of Health in the late-1960s, for instance, his was one of the voices recommending district health councils.

He was also involved in product-selection legislation in the early-1970s that allows a pharmacist to substitute a less-costly generic drug when a brand-name one is prescribed. As a result, he also worked on the Drug Quality and Therapeutics Committee that researched exactly what generic drugs could be prescribed in substitute for which name-brand drugs and under what circumstances, helping to compile the formulary on which pharmacists rely in making these decisions. ...more

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Possible counterfeit toothpaste find sparks caution call from Health Canada

From the Canadian Press:
Consumers should be verifying the authenticity of their food and drug products in the wake of a U.S. health recall involving tainted toothpaste that may have made its way to Ontario, Health Canada warned Tuesday.

The federal department is investigating after a tube of suspicious toothpaste was discovered at a southwestern Ontario dollar store Friday.

Spokesman Paul Duchesne said Health Canada is looking into whether the product in question could be linked to a recall south of the border involving counterfeit Colgate toothpaste found to contain an ingredient used in antifreeze.

In the meantime, Duchesne said consumers should look for the eight-digit identification, or DIN, number found on drugs as well as NPN numbers for natural products and DIN-HM numbers for homeopathic products. ...more

Monday, June 18, 2007

Pharmacists to appeal court ruling allowing cold remedies back in grocery stores

From CanadaEast:
The Ontario College of Pharmacists will appeal a court ruling that allows grocery stores to restock their shelves with cold remedies containing a key ingredient used to make crystal meth.

Independent grocery retailers across the province hailed the Ontario Superior Court decision last week that lets them once again sell Contac C, Claritin, Benadryl and other medications that contain ephedrine and pseudoephedrine.

The college says it has reviewed the decision and has decided to appeal.

College spokeswoman Sue Rawlinson says their notice of motion was being prepared and would likely be filed Tuesday. ...more

Prescription for growth in an evolving market

From the Hamilton Spectator:
In the grand scheme of things, Marchese Health Care and its staff of 80 is relatively small. The trick to survival in this business though, is thinking like a big multinational.

That philosophy is the driving force behind the James Street North company's recent expansion to build a cutting-edge sterile compounding facility, the first of its kind in southern Ontario and only the third like it in Canada.

The facility, built by Burlington-based Viro-Mart, is used to assemble custom prescriptions, intravenous medications or nutrition.

Fred Bruns, director of operations, pharmacy and client services at Marchese, said many pharmacies in the United States have already built similar facilities.

"It was driven by our desire to be at the cutting edge of what we do," he said. "In the U.S., these standards are not even mandatory, they're guidelines. Inevitably those standards will come to Canada." ...more

BioVenture winner lands cash

From the Saskatoon Star Phoenix:
Steve Mamchur knows he has a great idea. But instead of developing it in one of Canada's big cities, he's determined to make his business plan come to life to build the bio-economy in Saskatchewan.

The pharmacist and current law student at the University of Saskatchewan has created a technique that uses hormone concentrates from natural plant sources in bio-identical hormone replacement therapy, a natural alternative to pharmaceutical-based hormone replacement.

Mamchur has also developed a less expensive and safer way of mixing the hormone concentrate with a topical cream in pharmacies, an invention that will allow the number of Canadian pharmacies able to mix these creams to grow from 400 to 7,500. He wants to base his company in his home province. ...more

Sanofi-aventis gets okay to market colorectal cancer drug

From the Globe and Mail:
A drug company has been given the green light by Health Canada to market the long-established colorectal cancer drug oxaliplatin.

Now that Sanofi-aventis Canada Inc. has received its notice of compliance, it alone holds the license to market the drug known by the trade name Eloxatin. The move means three other companies that sold versions of oxaliplatin at deep discount prices under Health Canada's special access program, will have to stop.

“Within the next 4 to 6 weeks we should be able to put [Eloxatin] in the market,” JoĆ«lle Sissmann, vice-president of corporate affairs for Sanofi-aventis Canada Inc., said in a telephone interview from Montreal Monday.

“We got a call this morning that Sanofi had its notice of compliance and we were no longer allowed to sell our product,” Jennifer Wardrop, managing director of Sigmacon Lifesciences Inc., said in a telephone interview Monday. ...more

Labopharm's once-daily painkiller tramadol approved for sale in Canada

From CBC News:
Drug developer Labopharm Inc. (TSX:DDS) received some welcome relief of its own after Health Canada approved the sale of its once-daily painkiller tramadol despite ongoing concerns of U.S. regulators.

The health agency's therapeutic products directorate approved 100-milligram, 200-mg and 300-mg tablets of its formulation of tramadol for the management of moderate pain in adults who require treatment for several days or more, the Laval, Que.-based company said Monday.

"We're excited," Labopharm CEO James Howard-Tripp said in an interview.

"It's very positive for us. Canada is a smaller market than the U.S., but it's still a very important market. It's one of the G8, it's a very serious regulatory body, so it's nice to get approval from that perspective." ...more

Allocation of antivirals for flu pandemic workers stirs debate

From CBC News:
Public health officials across Canada are grappling with the medical and ethical issues of giving front-line health-care workers preventive antiviral drugs if a flu pandemic strikes.

The federal and provincial governments have stockpiled more than 500 million doses of antiviral drugs to prepare for a pandemic.

Under the current federal plan, the drugs may only be used to treat people once they are ill, a reversal of an original decision two years ago to stockpile antivirals as a preventive treatment or prophylaxis for front-line health-care workers as well. ...more

Public officials quick to seek private remedies: CMA president

From the Vancouver Sun:
Canada's top doctor singled out New Democrat leader Jack Layton Sunday for "hypocrisy" for undergoing hernia treatment at a private Toronto medical clinic.
But Dr. Brian Day, president-elect of the Canadian Medical Association, was quick to note Layton is in good company.

Former Prime Ministers Paul Martin, Jean Chretien and Joe Clark have also been treated at private medical clinics, Day told the annual meeting of the Canadian Science Writers' Association.

And he says union leader Buzz Hargrove, president of the Canadian Autoworkers, proved a master at "cue jumping" when he got in for an MRI within 24 hours of injuring his leg.

"Even I couldn't do that," said Day, the outspoken and media savvy orthopedic surgeon who takes over in August as president of the CMA, which represents 62,000 physicians across Canada. ...more

Cold remedies back on shelves

From the Owen Sound (Ont.) Sun Times::
People have Chesley grocer Peter Knipfel to thank, or to blame, for prompting a judge’s ruling permitting grocery and convenience stores to resume selling certain cold, allergy and sinus medicines that are also used to make crystal methamphetamine.

Since pseudoephedrine is an essential ingredient in the production the highly addictive street drug, sale of products containing it was restricted to pharmacies a year ago after the College of Pharmacists voiced concerns.

Knipfel said the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers took up his cause. His store, the Chesley Grocery Store, brought forward the request for a judge’s ruling.

A Superior Court justice ruled Thursday that pseudoephedrine, a common decongestant, is not a drug as defined under the Drug and Pharmacies Regulation Act and so the College of Pharmacists’ notice restricting sales could be ignored. ...more

Obama touts Rx drug plan

I can't see importing pharmaceuticals from Canada being much of an issue in American 2008 election, but Barack Obama mentioned he's in favour of allowing the purchase of Canadian prescriptions.

From the Sauk Valley (Ill.) Newspaper:
Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama speculated Saturday that his prescription drug plan could save seniors on Medicare $157 billion over the next decade.

The potential saving is proof that the nation needs to change the Medicare system, he said.

"There is no reason for this other than the fact it makes the drug companies more money," said Obama. 'It's wrong that Americans have to spend more for their prescriptions because drug companies can spend billions on lobbying."

The prescription drug plan pushed by Obama would allow Medicare officials to bargain for lower prescription drug prices, allow Americans to buy prescriptions from Canada and other developed countries where safe drugs are available and increase the use of generic drugs in public health programs like Medicare. ...more

Over-the-counter diet pill goes on sale in U.S.

I remember when Xenical, the prescription version of orlistat, was introduced in Canada. It was heavily hyped, but because of price, lack of noticeable benefits and bad side effects it mostly faded out of view. I suspect the OTC version will face the same fate. A few people will benefit from this treatment and lose some weight. However, the majority of patients will try it, and then realize that you really do have to cut your fat intake or else you get nasty bowel-related side effects. As soon as they realize it's not a magic pill or when they soil their pants, they'll stop using it. I doubt we'll see it in Canada anytime soon.

From CTV News:
Canadian health officials watched closely on Friday as Alli, the first over-the-counter diet pill approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, went on sale south of the border.

The drug, which reduces the amount of fat absorbed by the body after a meal by roughly 25 per cent, is available in Canada under a different name, but still requires a prescription.

"It's been around for quite a long time," Yoni Freedhoff of the Bariatric Medical Institute, an Ottawa-based weight loss centre, told CTV News.

"Studies show that people taking it for two years lose up to eight kilograms. But the way it works, of course, is by either delaying or blocking the absorption of fat in the gut. And the way it blocks it is, well, it comes out -- 'fast' is a good objective to use." ...more

Drug maker overstated sales by $5.6M

From the Toronto Star:
CV Technologies Inc. (TSX: CVQ), maker of the Cold-fx treatment for colds and the flu, said it overstated sales by $5.6 million in 2006 as it entered the U.S. market for the first time.

As a result, the company said its earned $3.5 million less than originally reported for that fiscal year.

The Edmonton-based company revealed the new figures late Thursday in an anticipated restatement of its earnings.

CV Technologies said it underestimated the amount of product returns after introducing Cold-fx to the U.S. in the fourth quarter of 2006 and "correspondingly overestimating revenue from product sales." ...more

Better Labels Urged for Sports Creams

I missed this story last week but I had to post it now as I find it a fascinating case. This is an article that every pharmacy should save and pull out when a patient comments that a topical cream can't possibly be harmful.

From the Washington Post:
Arielle Newman was a high school track star who suffered from the typical aches and pains that result from a grueling training regimen. For relief, she covered her legs with large amounts of muscle cream.

The 17-year-old died from an accidental overdose of methyl salicylate, the wintergreen-scented ingredient found in liniments like BenGay, Icy Hot and Tiger Balm, the New York City medical examiner's office said last week. The death was the first of its kind in the city, authorities said.

Experts said the death of Newman, a cross-country runner for Notre Dame Academy on Staten Island, points to a need for clearer warnings about risks, especially because muscle creams have become a staple in locker rooms around the country. ...more

Health Canada: Keep medical pot consumption low

From CTV News:
Health Canada has been contacting doctors who prescribe medical marijuana for their government-approved patients, advising them to keep the dosages low.

Some users say that not only violates doctor-patient confidentiality, it's also wrong for bureaucrats to make judgments about the medical needs of people they've never seen.

"A person's medication should be between him and his doctor,'' said Tony Adams, 60, a medical marijuana user in Victoria.

"There shouldn't be some bureaucrat in Ottawa that's never met me. Everybody has different needs for medications.''

Adams, a licenced user who's been smoking seven grams of marijuana daily, recently applied to Health Canada to increase the dose to 10 grams, with his doctor's authorization. Official approval from Ottawa is needed so that Adam can legally grow the appropriate number of marijuana plants, set by Health Canada at five plants for each daily gram.

But a program official in Ottawa challenged Adams' doctor in a telephone call, saying most patients need no more than five grams. Adams, who has severe arthritis and degenerative disc disease, later received a new licence for just five grams a day. ...more

Ban on grocers selling pseudoephedrine overturned

This case could be a precedent that might affect which retailers can carry over the counter drugs. I would not want to see Canada end up like the United States when it comes to OTC products. In the States, it's essentially an all or nothing proposition: it's either prescription only or it can be sold anywhere.

From CTV News:
Ontario residents will once again be able to get cold and allergy medicine containing pseudoephedrine from local grocery and corner stores.

A controversial decision to make products containing the compound available only through a pharmacy was overturned by the Ontario Superior Court on Thursday.

The original decision was made last year to address concerns raised by the Ontario College of Pharmacists that medications containing pseudoephedrine were being used to make crystal meth. ...more

Layton calls for free prescription drugs

From CTV News:
Jack Layton is calling for universal prescription drug coverage for all Canadians, and he's making an appeal to Canada's business community to help out.

In a speech planned for Friday at Oakville's Chamber of Commerce, Layton says he has been approached by young families who tell him they have to choose between mortgage payments and prescription medication.

With provincial premiers and ordinary Canadians onside, Layton says his campaign will be unstoppable with the help of Canadian business. ...more

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Sask. health-care workers announce strike mandate

It sounds like hospital pharmacists in Saskatchewan may soon be on strike.

From CBC News:
The union for 2,700 health-care professionals in Saskatchewan has been given a strike mandate by its members.

The Health Sciences Association of Saskatchewan says money, recruitment and retention are the main issues.

"This has been an extremely discouraging round of provincial negotiations," said union president Chris Driol. "Until we decided to talk to our members about a strike vote the employer flatly refused to discuss our issues." ...more

New pharmacy for Welland

Ordinarily, I wouldn't post an article noting the construction of another pharmacy in Canada. However, I was intrigued by this one. Rexall is building a new location in Welland, Ontario. So what's unusual? How about this:

Management at the Rexall Clinic Pharmacy located at 515 King St., has not been told any details about the new store being built just a few hundred metres north.
Isn't this odd? I've heard talk that there has been some friction between some owners of Rexall franchises and their parent company. This article might support that rumour. Has anyone else heard about this?

From the Welland (Ont.) Tribune:
Rexall is bringing one of its new concept drug stores to the corner of King and Lincoln streets.

It was confirmed for The Tribune yesterday by Michelle Lee, media relations manager for Rexall parent company Katz Group Canada.

Until the store is closer to opening Lee said she could not comment any further at this time.

City planner Don Thorpe said a building permit was issued about two weeks ago. ...more

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

FDA Panel Rejects Sanofi Weight Loss Drug Acomplia

I'm the first to admit I expected big sales once Acomplia was approved. However, it seems somewhat unlikely it will ever make an appearance in the United States. I've not heard any news about it's approval status in Canada, but I suspect this won't help.

From CNN:
A U.S. Food and Drug Administration panel Wednesday unanimously rejected Acomplia, a weight-loss drug from Sanofi-Aventis SA (SNY), on concerns the drug increases the number of psychiatric events like depression and suicidal thinking among users.

The panel's decision is a blow to the Paris-based drug maker, which was hoping it could sell Acomplia on the U.S. market. The FDA typically follows its panels' advice but isn't required to do so. The FDA is set to make a final decision on whether to approve Acomplia, known generically as rimonabant, by the end of July.

"It was quite obvious there was serious concerns about the safety profile of rimonabant," said Eric Colman, the FDA's metabolic and endocrine drug product deputy director, noting that the 14 voting members said additional safety information should be required before the FDA should consider approving the drug.

If rimonabant were to be approved in the U.S., the drug would likely be called Zimulti because the FDA rejected the brand name of Acomplia. But approval is unlikely anytime soon. The FDA has been under fire from Congress about its handling of various drug-safety issues, including recent concerns that GlaxoSmithKline PLC's (GSK) diabetes drug Avandia raises heart-attack risks. ..more

Petition urges Nova Scotia to fund Avastin

From CBC News:
Presented with a 2,200-signature petition Wednesday, Health Minister Chris d'Entremont said "public opinion" would be a factor in his final decision whether to cover a costly cancer drug.

The petition calls on the province to pay for Avastin, a drug used to treat colorectal cancer.

"I was very happy to be able to hand it to him personally and he seemed very open to receiving it," said Denyse Hockley, who launched the petition last month in support of a woman battling the disease. ...more

New kidney cancer drug fast-tracked

From the Vancouver Province:
A new drug that significantly increases the survival time of kidney-cancer patients is being fast-tracked by Health Canada and is expected to be approved by July.

The world's highest kidney-cancer rates are in North America. Three years ago there were 4,000 cases in Canada, a figure that's skyrocketed to 5,500 today.

Smoking is the No. 1 cause, while the obesity epidemic with its concomitant kidney damage and an increase in pollution are also implicated. The five-year survival rate of a metastatic renal-cell carcinoma patient is five to 10 per cent.

The new drug, called Torisel, is injected intravenously and destroys the blood vessels which feed the cancerous cells. And the positive effect is achieved without harming nearby blood vessel functions. ...more

Consult doctor before boosting vitamin D intake, advises Cancer Society

I find this recommendation by the Canadian Cancer Society a bit weak. Consult your doctor before increasing your Vitamin D? Thousands of doctor visits sounds like an unnecessary expense when you consider your neighbourhood pharmacist should be able to answer these questions.

From the Canadian Press:
Canadians should consult with their doctors before rushing to their neighbourhood stores and pharmacies to snap vitamin D off of the shelves, a Canadian Cancer Society official said Tuesday.

The caveat was part of the organization's recommendation last week which advised adult Canadians to consider boosting their intake of the so-called sunshine vitamin in fall and winter by supplementing their diet with 1,000 international units.

"The reason the recommendation is for fall and winter is because of where we live in Canada, almost all Canadians are at risk of vitamin D deficiency during the fall and winter because we don't produce any vitamin D from exposure when you live as north as we do in Canada," said Heather Logan, director of cancer control policy at the Canadian Cancer Society. ...more

Anti-smoking bill calls for maximum $100,000 fine

From the Edmonton Journal:
Alberta's tough new anti-smoking legislation will slap fines of up to $100,000 on stores that visibly display or advertise the tobacco products they sell, or on any pharmacies, post-secondary campuses or health facilities that vend the cancer-causing product.

But the bill, which Health Minister Dave Hancock introduced Tuesday, did not specify when its tobacco-control measures will take effect. ...more

N.B. pharmacists could gain right to prescribe at counter

From CBC News:
Pharmacists in New Brunswick could soon be allowed to prescribe some medications without authorization from a doctor.

Last week Health Minister Mike Murphy indicated pharmacists could be given more professional responsibility, including the power to prescribe certain drugs.

Pharmacists at their annual meeting in Saint John over the weekend were excited about the possibility of additional powers to meet the health needs of their customers.

Saint John pharmacist Janet MacDonnell said it would make everyone's life easier if pharmacists could prescribe certain drugs. Some simple cases, such as insect bites requiring a prescribed ointment, could easily be handled at her counter. ...more

Pharmacist inks Internet drug deal

From the Vancouver Province:
A Surrey pharmacist has signed an exclusive deal with the Philippines government to sell prescription drugs in that nation on the Net.

Bob Rai is president of Pharma-Canada Inc., which he said signed the five-year deal in March and hopes to be operating early in August. "The federal government of the Philippines wants to reduce medication costs by about 50 per cent by the year 2010," Rai said yesterday.

He has business contacts in the Philippines after travelling there regularly for several years to facilitate his dealings in herbal medications and generic drugs. To reduce costs, government-run pharmacies have been set up to offer an alternative to the more expensive, private pharmacies. ...more

Nearly half of children in Crown care are medicated

From the Globe and Mail:
Psychotropic drugs are being prescribed to nearly half the Crown wards in a sample of Ontario children's aid societies, kindling fears that the agencies are overusing medication with the province's most vulnerable children.

According to government documents obtained by The Globe and Mail under Ontario's Freedom of Information Act, 47 per cent of the Crown wards – the children in permanent CAS care – at five randomly picked agencies were prescribed psychotropic drugs last year to treat depression, attention deficit disorder, anxiety and other mental-health problems. And, the wards are diagnosed and medicated far more often than are children in the general population. ...more

Association of Avastin (bevacizumab) with tracheo-esophageal fistula

From Health Canada:
Hoffmann-La Roche Limited, in consultation with Health Canada, has informed Canadian healthcare professionals of important new safety information concerning AVASTIN (bevacizumab).

Avastin is used in combination with a specific type of chemotherapy for the treatment of cancer of the bowel and rectum which has spread to other sites. Please note the following new safety information for the use of AVASTIN:
For Health Care Professionals
For the Public

Patients in life and death struggle pay for cancer drugs

From the Thunder Bay (Ont.) Chronicle Journal:
Three Northwestern Ontario patients with an incurable form of colon cancer have paid $35,000 each for a drug in a bid to extend their lives.

The drug, Avastin, was administered through the regional cancer program.

Two of the patients died after just five months.

The patients were from Thunder Bay, Kenora and Fort Frances, said Michael Power, vice-president of regional cancer services and diagnostics.

Power said cancer specialists at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre would be willing to administer Avastin if the patients order and pay for the drug, or have it paid for by private insurance plans. ...more

Colon cancer drug Avastin linked to esophagus problem

From CBC News:
An advisory has been issued after the colorectal cancer drug Avastin was linked to the development of a rare, potentially fatal problem with the esophagus.

Health Canada approved the use of Avastin or bevacizumab, in combination with other drugs, to extend the lives of people with colorectal cancer that has spread to other sites.

In an advisory Tuesday, the department said use of Avastin and other cancer treatments has been linked with the development of tracheo-esophageal fistulas — abnormal connections between the esophagus (the tube from the throat to stomach) and the trachea (the windpipe), which normally remain separate. ...more

Alternate medicine a taxing issue

From the National Post:
More and more Canadians are turning to various types of so-called alternative medicine for relief of health problems. But while such people may be willing to get involved in "leading-edge" treatment, like everybody else they want to get tax relief where possible for their medical expenses.

One of the first questions is whether dealing with somebody other than a traditional medical doctor will jeopardize potential claims. And while the Income Tax Act is national in scope, anomalies may crop up. ...more

GlaxoSmithKline makes Quebec the hub of its vaccine research and manufacturing

From the Montreal Gazette:
GlaxoSmithKline Plc, the world's second-biggest biopharma group, said yesterday Quebec will become the hub of its North American vaccine research and manufacturing operations, lifting the province's ambition to become a leader in life sciences.

GSK is investing $50 million of its own money to upgrade and expand its Laval vaccines research labs acquired along with a big Quebec City vaccines manufacturing plant in the $1.7-billion takeover of ID BioMedical in 2005.

"The Laval operation is being designated the North American HQ of our innovative vaccines division, the Belgium-based GSK Biologicals, and the administrative centre," said Paul Lucas, CEO of GlaxoSmithKline Canada, GSK's main Canadian arm based in Mississauga, Ont. ...more

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Antibiotic use before first birthday linked to asthma later in childhood: study

From the Montreal Gazette:
Children treated with antibiotics in their first year of life appear to have a significantly higher risk of developing asthma compared with babies not given the drugs, a Canadian study suggests.

The study, published in the June issue of the journal Chest, found that the risk for asthma doubled in tots receiving antibiotics for non-respiratory infections, as well as for youngsters who received multiple antibiotic courses and who did not live with a family dog before their first birthday.

"Antibiotics are prescribed mostly for respiratory tract infections, yet respiratory symptoms can be a sign of future asthma," said lead author Anita Kozyrskyj of the University of Manitoba. "This may make it difficult to attribute antibiotic use to asthma development." ...more

Monday, June 11, 2007

Tory pledges health-care overhaul with online records

From the Globe and Mail:
Ontario Opposition Leader John Tory plans to dramatically overhaul the province's health-care system by providing every resident with an electronic record of their medical history by 2014 if the Progressive Conservatives win the election.

The creation of an online record-keeping system is at the centre of his party's health-care platform for the Oct. 10 provincial election.

Mr. Tory will release the campaign document at the Progressive Conservatives' convention in Toronto Saturday, which also includes a plan to give faith-based schools in Ontario the option of joining the public education system. ...more

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Vitamin D selling out

From the Montreal Gazette:
Vitamin D pills are flying off the shelves, a random survey of local pharmacies indicates.

The rush follows publication of a new study indicating that high doses of Vitamin D can reduce the risk of developing some common cancers.

The Pharmaprix on Sherbrooke St. W. near Grey Ave. was cleared out of Vitamin D yesterday.
Pharmacist Ann Labreque also said she had three or four requests for information, which is a lot more than she would normally receive. ...more

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Smoke habit hard for stores to break

The ban of tobacco sales in pharmacies in Alberta is imminent. We know that legislation will be enacted, but the effective date is not known yet. While it's quite evident how the change will affect smaller pharmacies that still stock cigarettes, it seemed a lot less clear to me regarding the big grocery stores with pharmacies. However, we seem to have an answer in this article:

As for the pharmacy rule, (Health Minister David) Hancock said Wednesday it will even apply to sprawling retailers like Costco and supermarkets that house both pharmacies and cigarette counters.

"They'll have to choose," he said.
That's a bold statement. I would expect that grocery stores with adjacent liquor stores could just move cigarettes into those locales, but that won't cover a significant percentage of these retailers. I have a hard time imagining that Costco, which sells an enormous amount of cigarettes which ultimately are sold by retailers, would be willing to give these sales up. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

From the Edmonton Journal:
The government's sweeping anti-tobacco legislation will hit retailers the hardest, forcing corner stores to hide their lucrative product and making even large grocery stores choose between their pharmacies and cigarette sales, Health Minister Dave Hancock said.

His Tobacco Reduction Act will be introduced next week. In addition to making all Alberta workplaces smoke-free, the bill would ban visible displays or advertisements of tobacco products in stores, and prohibit cigarette sales at any location selling prescription drugs. ...more

Vitamin D dramatically cuts cancer risk: researchers

From the National Post:
A simple vitamin to prevent cancer has finally been accepted by the mainstream.

Long after natural "cures" such as shark cartilage and laetrile from peach pits flopped comes the first study of its kind to show that vitamin D is a potent cancer stopper.

The Canadian Cancer Society has used that finding and others in deciding to recommend for the first time that adult Canadians lower their cancer risk by taking 1,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D daily - five times the current recommended daily amount for people under age 50. ...more

Drugs company cracks Parkinson's with cure

I've never heard of this drug before, but it sounds quite promising. It's probably a bit too simplistic to think it's the definitive cure for Parkinson's, but it does sound like it could be a breakthrough.

From the Cambridge (UK) Evening News:
A small drugs company at Godmanchester has come up with a cure for Parkinson's disease, which could also lead to a cure for Alzheimer's.

Phytopharm has been working for some years on reversing the devastating effects of these two killer diseases and announced last night that it had succeeded.

The drug, Cogane, works by stimulating naturally produced proteins that can regenerate neurons in the brain.

It will be five years, however, before the new drug passes all the regulatory tests and becomes generally available. ...more

Experts say early results from Avandia study not reassuring, despite Glaxo's claim

From the Canadian Press:
The maker of the controversial diabetes pill Avandia on Tuesday published preliminary results of a study that the company claims show the drug does not raise heart risks. However, experts say the results are inconclusive and even seem to suggest more risk from the drug.

More people on Avandia suffered heart problems than those on other diabetes drugs - a bad sign even if the difference was so small that it could have occurred by chance alone, some doctors said. ...more

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

More responsibility should mean more pay: pharmacist

This article really touches the bottom line when it comes to pharmacist prescribing: who is going to pay for it. If pharmacists are expected to go through extra training and take on extra responsibility, it's reasonable that they are reimbursed for this. However, it's unclear where the payment will come from.

In Alberta, the major drug plans will honour pharmacist-written prescriptions, but with the usual dispensing fee structure. Neither the drug plans or the provincial government will pay for the pharmacist's cognitive services. This lack of third party reimbursement will drive patients away from pharmacist prescribing for financial reasons alone.

From CBC News:
If New Brunswick pharmacists are required to take on some of the duties now performed by doctors, they'll expect to be compensated for it, warns Moncton pharmacist John Staples.

Health Minister Mike Murphy indicated on Monday that New Brunswick pharmacists will soon be given more professional responsibility, which could include the power to prescribe some medications.

"There seems to be a consensus that a larger role for pharmacists is needed. There's no question," Murphy said Tuesday. ...more

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Health Canada expands Plavix approval

From the Toronto Star:
Pharmaceutical giants Sanofi-aventis of France and Bristol-Myers Squibb of the United States say Health Canada has given approval for the use of their blood-thinner Plavix to reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke or death in patients with all acute coronary syndromes.

The approval is an expanded indication for Plavix, which offers protection from all types of heart attacks.

"This new indication is an important advance in the treatment of ACS (acute coronary syndrome) for patients with STEMI (ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction) as myocardial infarction is a life-threatening condition," said Shamir Mehta, director of interventional cardiology at McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences. ...more

Smokers, vendors have summer to adjust

Alberta is planning on passing some tough new anti-smoking laws, including rules that would prevent sales of tobacco products in pharmacies. I'm curious to see how that will actually work in practice. Does this mean grocery stores with pharmacy departments will be prevented from selling cigarettes?

From the Edmonton Journal:
The provincial government signalled an end Thursday to Alberta's ranking as Canada's most smoker-friendly province, approving a provincewide ban on smoking in workplaces and other steps that would make Alberta one of the toughest anti-tobacco jurisdictions.

Conservative MLAs, a group that has long opposed cracking down on where smokers can light up, also decided to prohibit visible cigarette ads or displays in stores, and to ban sales of tobacco products in pharmacies, post-secondary schools or health facilities.

It's unclear when the plan will take effect, but it will also prohibit smoking near doorways and windows, to shield people from the toxins of second-hand smoke, Health Minister Dave Hancock said. ...more

Monday, June 04, 2007

Patients buy cancer drugs at new clinic

From the Ottawa Citizen:
A private clinic has opened in Ottawa, giving patients who can pay for them, cancer drugs not covered in Ontario.

The clinic, one of about 10 similar operations that have opened across Ontario since last fall, is part of a growing chain operated by Bayshore Home Health and "sponsored" by the pharmaceutical company Roche Canada.

Some of the federally approved drugs, administered intravenously, are already covered under health plans in other provinces. ...more

Layton asks for support on drug plan

From the Toronto Star:
NDP Leader Jack Layton is meeting with provincial premiers to drum up support for a national drug plan that would help Canadians cope with the cost of filling their prescriptions.

Layton says he's heard encouraging words already from Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams, whom he met last month, and from British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell. He plans to meet soon with Saskatchewan Premier Lorne Calvert.

"We think it's time to move," Layton said. "We intend to persevere until we get the kind of coverage that all Canadians deserve." ...more

The battle over a cancer pill

From the Globe and Mail:
British businessman Peter Sartorius has devised his own treatment regime for prostate cancer. Every day, he drinks a salty cocktail, a mixture of water and an experimental drug called DCA he orders over the Internet.

Jim, a retired handyman in Louisiana, has lung cancer, and has been told that he has only a few months left to live. He swallows homemade capsules filled with DCA that his son, Jason, puts together.

Both men started self-medicating this spring after University of Alberta researchers announced that DCA (dichloroacetate) dramatically shrank tumours in rats without damaging healthy cells. But the Edmonton team was having trouble finding money to see if DCA works in humans. ...more

Tubercular man apologizes to flyers

From the Calgary Sun:
The Atlanta lawyer quarantined with a dangerous strain of tuberculosis apologized to fellow-airline passengers yesterday.

He insisted he was told before he set out for his wedding in Europe he was no danger to anyone.

"I've lived in this state of constant fear and anxiety and exhaustion for a week now, and to think that someone else is now feeling that, I wouldn't want anyone to feel that way. It's awful," Andrew Speaker said. ...more

More kids prescribed Ritalin after divorce

From MSNBC:
Children from broken marriages are twice as likely to be prescribed attention-deficit drugs as children whose parents stay together, a Canadian researcher said on Monday, and she said the reasons should be investigated.

More than 6 percent of 633 children from divorced families were prescribed Ritalin, compared with 3.3 percent of children whose parents stayed together, University of Alberta professor Lisa Strohschein reported in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

The study of more than 4,700 children started in 1994, while all the families were intact, Strohschein said. They followed the children’s progress to see what happened to their families and to see what drugs were prescribed. ...more

Jean Coutu closes deal to sell U.S. pharmacies

From the Toronto Star:
Jean Coutu Group (TSX: PJC.A) officially announced Monday that it had closed a US$3.9 billion deal to sell U.S. Brooks and Eckerd pharmacies and distribution centres to Rite Aid.

The Quebec-based company received US$2.36 billion in cash and 250 million shares of Rite Aid common stock that provide about 32 per cent common equity interest in the U.S. giant.

"The completion of this transaction is a transformational event for the shareholders of The Jean Coutu Group," pharmacy chairman Jean Coutu said in a news release. ...more

Drugs used for dementia raise death risk: Study

From the Toronto Star:
Older adults who suffer dementia and are given antipsychotic drugs have a slightly higher risk of death than those who aren't prescribed these medications, a large Canadian study suggests.

And the older variety of antipsychotics – known as conventional agents – seems to be associated with a higher risk of death than newer atypical antipsychotics, researchers said in the study of Ontario patients, published Tuesday in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

The study builds on previous research that led to warnings in the spring of 2005 from Health Canada and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on atypical antipsychotics and dementia. ...more

Drug offers promise in treating advanced breast cancer: Cdn. drugmaker

From the Canadian Press:
A Canadian pharmaceutical company is touting the benefits of a drug to treat advanced breast cancer.

Results of two studies have been released at a cancer conference in Chicago on the effectiveness of Tykerb, made by Mississauga, Ont.-based GlaxoSmithKline.

Tykerb tablets are meant to be a once-daily oral treatment for women with HER-2 positive breast cancer.

They claim Tykerb reduced brain tumour volume in some women whose breast cancer had spread, and, when used in combination with another drug, paclitaxel, can improve progression-free survival times for women with HER2-positive advanced breast cancer. ...more

Friday, June 01, 2007

Pharmacists can have impact after surgery, say researchers

From News @UofT:
A new study by researchers from the Toronto General Hospital (TGH), University Health Network (UHN) and the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy has shown that including pharmacists as part of multidisciplinary teams in surgical pre-admission clinics can result in a 50 per cent decrease in medication discrepancies for patients after surgery.

The study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine May 28, is the first randomized controlled trial to evaluate the effectiveness of a pharmacist intervention in a pre-admission clinic. Previous studies have shown that from the moment a patient is admitted to hospital to when they are discharged, there are several vulnerable moments for medication information discrepancies, which can escalate into medication errors and adverse drug events. ...more

Deaths linked to diabetes drug?

From the Winnipeg Free Press:
Health Canada says the deaths of several Canadians could be linked to the popular Type 2 diabetes drug Avandia, the Free Press has learned.

Last week, a report in the New England Journal of Medicine linked Avandia to a greater chance of heart attack and possibly death.

Initially, Health Canada told the media that 28 Canadians who were taking Avandia suffered heart attacks since 2000. They didn't say if any of the heart attacks were fatal.

But after the Free Press looked into Health Canada's adverse-reaction database, spokeswoman Renee Bergeron confirmed 19 people have died from heart attacks or heart failure while taking Avandia. ...more

Pharmacist urges Avandia users to keep using it

From the Peterborough (Ont.) Examiner:
Avandia — a Type 2 diabetes drug that's been possibly linked to six Canadian deaths — is still "excellent" for diabetics as long as they don't have heart conditions such as congestive heart failure, a pharmacist says.

Murad Younis, of Westmount Pharmacy on Charlotte Street, says he worries all diabetics will be scared off the daily tablets after the U.S. issued a safety alert last week.

The alert was in response to a New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) study linking the drug to a greater risk of heart attack.

Avandia got more bad press when Health Canada reported Wednesday a preliminary review indicates the drug could be linked to the deaths of six people who died from heart attacks or heart failures. ...more