Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Union says medicine from Canada could save East Hampton big bucks

While the city of Boston is cutting off their Canadian drug program, the town of East Hampton, New York is investigating the possibility of setting up a Canadian importation program of their own. It's a bit hard to believe that a government would be looking at doing this now. I think this town is four or five years behind the curve.

From 27 East (NY):
Hoping to convince East Hampton Town lawmakers not to switch town employees’ health benefits to a state-administered insurance plan, leaders of the Civil Service Employees Association have proposed turning to a Canadian mail-order prescription drug supplier to cut costs.

Representatives from the Civil Service Employees of America and CanaRx, a firm that provides name-brand prescription drugs from Canada at a deep discount, claim that using the Canadian company could save the town some $490,000 a year, based on town employees’ current number of prescriptions, and allow the town to continue self-insuring its civil service employees.

But Supervisor Bill McGintee said the prescription drug savings proposed are not enough to match the potential savings that changing medical plans would bring the cash-strapped town. He said that switching from the current self-insured medical benefits to a plan offered by Empire Blue Cross/Blue Shield, a state-administered health insurance organization, could save the town $1.5 million in 2009. ...more

Province to offer vaccine at clinics for Catholics

From the Calgary Herald:
Alberta medical officials said Monday they will likely offer the human papillomavirus vaccine at public health clinics for local Catholic students and others in the province whose schools have banned the controversial shots.

Dr. Gerry Predy, acting chief medical officer of health, said Alberta Health must ensure all Grade 5 girls have equitable and free access to the HPV vaccine, which is designed to prevent cervical cancer.

"We need to look at how we can offer it in parts of the province where school districts won't offer it, and come up with a consistent way of doing it," said Predy.

"That's probably how it will be pursued . . . at clinics."

Health officials have been discussing how to deliver the vaccine to students in the separate system after two Catholic school districts in the province voted last week against participating in the province's new HPV vaccination program. ...more

2 Twin Cities pharmacists blow whistle on Walgreens' Medicaid billing

From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
Walgreens has paid the United States and Minnesota and three other states nearly $10 million to resolve allegations of falsely billing Medicaid, the U.S. Justice Department announced Monday, with some of that money going to two Twin Cities pharmacists who turned in the industry giant.

The United States initiated the investigation in response to a lawsuit brought by pharmacists Daniel Bieurance and Neil Thompson.

As a result of the settlement, the pharmacists will divide $1.44 million out of the $9.9 million recovery. An attorney for the pharmacists said that Thompson still works part time for Walgreens on Hiawatha Avenue in south Minneapolis; Bieurance left Walgreens for another job in pharmacy. Thompson also has a law practice in Minneapolis. ...more

Monday, September 29, 2008

Layton pledges $1B to help families with prescription drugs

From the Vancouver Province:
NDP Leader Jack Layton is promising $1 billion a year to help patients pay for prescription drugs.

"The cost of prescription drugs is hurting families across Canada," Layton said at BCIT's Burnaby campus Friday morning.

The plan would support patients who spend more than $1,500 annually on medication, and is based on the Romanow report on the future of health care.

Layton also wants to set up a national program to bulk-buy medications, and to replace patent drugs with lower-cost generic drugs. ...more

Canadian prescription drug supplier ending Hub program

From the Boston Globe:
Four years after Mayor Thomas M. Menino bucked federal regulators and made Boston the biggest city nationally to offer low-cost Canadian prescription drugs to employees and retirees, the program has fizzled, never having attracted more than a few dozen participants.

In late July, the Canadian supplier for the program, Winnipeg-based Total Care Pharmacy, sent a letter to city officials saying the firm was terminating its agreement because there were so few participants. When the last Canadian drugs from the company are shipped to Boston retirees in December, it will mark the quiet end to an initiative that generated headlines for Menino.

Menino administration officials blamed the end of the program on a lack of interest from city retirees eligible to participate.

"If things are grossly underenrolled, that's the market saying they're not really interested in that product," said Meredith Weenick, the city's associate director of administration and finance. ...more

Chinese aphrodisiac may outperform blockbuster drug

From the Vancouver Sun:
Italian researchers are testing a promising alternative to Viagra that they're calling 3,7-bis-(2-hydroxyethyl)-icaritin - or more simply put, "horny goat weed."

In lab experiments, a semi-synthetic derivative of the active compound in Epimedium brevicornum, an ancient Chinese herbal remedy for impotence, performed as well as Viagra but with the potential for fewer side effects, the researchers say.

It's an ironic finding: Health Canada has issued a string of warnings on Chinese herbal products for erectile dysfunction because they contain undeclared sildenafil - the active ingredient in Viagra.

Now, a Chinese aphrodisiac may outperform the blockbuster drug.

The study is scheduled for the Oct. 24 issue of the American Chemical Society's Journal of Natural Products. ...more

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Statin use in seniors linked to higher risk of delirium after surgery

From CBC News:
Elderly people who take cholesterol-lowering statins may be at higher risk for delirium after surgery, say Canadian researchers who suggest temporarily stopping use of the drugs before surgery to prevent the complication.

People over 70 commonly show delirium or confusion after elective surgery, such as to repair hip fractures. Doctors now recognize delirium as a complication that should be prevented, recognized and treated.

Delirium not only causes anxiety for patients and their families, it also contributes to longer hospital stays, prolongs the need for intensive care and may disrupt or delay care, the researchers said.

In Tuesday's issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, Dr. Donald Redelmeier of Ontario's Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences and his colleagues concluded the use of statins is associated with a 28 per cent increased risk of delirium in elderly patients who had surgery between 1992 and 2002.

To come to that conclusion, the researchers reviewed hospital and outpatient pharmacy records of more than 280,000 patients aged 65 or older who were admitted for elective surgery.

Among the seven per cent of patients taking statins, 3,195 experienced delirium after surgery, the researchers said. ...more

Pharmacists give wrong advice to almost half of customers, watchdog claims

From the Telegraph (UK):
An undercover investigation has found that many pharmacies – especially independent outlets – are relying on poorly-trained staff and failing to give the correct information to customers.

Which?, the consumer watchdog, sent investigators to visit 101 pharmacies across the UK and got unsatisfactory advice on a third of visits, according to an expert panel.

Independent pharmacies fared particularly poorly, giving unsatisfactory advice on around half – 48 per cent – of visits compared to 38 per cent of national and regional chains and 26 per cent of the biggest players and supermarkets.

The outlets failed to give the correct advice to the mystery shopper, who pretended to have traveller's diarrhoea in 14 out of the 32 visits. They failed to ask whether the patient had been abroad or for how long they had been suffering.

In many cases the advice was given by a sales assistant who failed to consult the qualified pharmacist, a decision which "astounded" the expert panel.

Which? magazine editor Neil Fowler said: "People are increasingly turning to pharmacies for the sort of advice they might have gone to their GP for in the past, but we're concerned that in some cases they're getting advice that is unsuitable and potentially unsafe. ...more

ADHD drugs should be last resort: new guidelines

From CTV News:
Drugs such as Ritalin should be a last resort for treating children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and should never be prescribed to kids of preschool age, new guidelines suggest.

The new guidelines, issued by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence in the United Kingdom, recommend that parents and other caregivers receive training in the care and management of the disease as a first line of treatment.

If parental management proves ineffective for ADHD patients between the ages of 11 and 18, group or individual counselling should be the next option considered for treatment, the guidelines suggest.

"Drug treatment is not indicated as the first-line treatment for all school-age children and young people with ADHD," the guidelines say.

Treatment with Ritalin or other drugs, "should be reserved for those with severe symptoms and impairment," or for those who have refused or not responded to parent training or psychological treatment.

For children with severe ADHD, medication is still recommended as a first-line treatment, with parent management as a supplementary treatment. ..more

Clement open to drug plan but sees other options

From CTV News:
Conservative Health Minister Tony Clement says he's open to creating a catastrophic-illness drug plan such as the one promised by the Liberals and the New Democrats, but a brand new initiative isn't the only solution.

Speaking to CTV's Canada AM on Tuesday, Clement said there is already money in the health care system that could go towards prescription drugs if the provinces and feds could work together on the issue.

"What I've said to my provincial counterparts is I'm willing to go forward with a new initiative, but there's money in the system now," Clement said from Huntsville, Ont.

"If we work together to do bulk purchasing of pharmaceutical products, if we work together to reduce our generic drug costs -- because our costs are 25 to 30 per cent higher than they have in the U.S -- then we can find the money to put to new, innovative drugs or drugs for rare diseases." ...more

Apotex Inc. donates $1.5 million to college of pharmacy

From the Saskatoon Star Phoenix:
The University of Saskatchewan's college of pharmacy received its largest-ever single donation on Tuesday.

Apotex Inc., the country's largest pharmaceutical company, announced a $1.5-million gift to the college.

The bulk of the money will help fund research and provide support for graduate students, but $250,000 has been earmarked for an improved practice laboratory for pharmacy students.

"The lab is great," said Jessica Gagatek, a pharmacy student entering her second year at the college.

"It's a non-invasive way of gaining experience that gives students the confidence to go into a workplace setting."

On Tuesday, Gagatek helped demonstrate the kind of hands-on learning that occurs in the lab by showing Apotex president Jack Kay how to properly take a prescribed dose of penicillin. ...more

Litigation train keeps rolling on

From the Financial Post:
Harry Radomski of the law firm Goodmans in Toronto is lead generic drug counsel for Apotex inc. He's driving a litigation train.

Notice of compliance cases -- a method pharmaceutical companies use for obtaining approval of a new drug -- constitute some 90% of the firm's IP litigation, generating between $10-and $20-million in annual billings for Mr. Radomski and his colleagues.

The truth is that pharmaceutical litigation of the kind known as generic drug litigation is a docket hog. Such cases make up at least 60% of all patent cases in the Federal Court and consume at least 75% of the legal fees. Indeed, on one summer day, 17 of the 20 motions on the Federal Court list in Toronto were pharmaceutical cases.

"IP litigation lawyers should erect a monument to Barry Sherman," says Scott Jolliffe, managing partner of Gowling Lafleur Henderson in Toronto.

Mr. Sherman is the founder of Apotex, Canada's largest pharmaceuticals manufacturer and a maker of generic drugs that fill some 50 million prescriptions in Canada annually -- "the devil incarnate to the brands," as one lawyer calls the company. With costs of $100-million to $1-billion to bring a drug to market, brand-name drugmakers, known as innovators, have a huge investment to recoup. ...more

Canadian to ship AIDS drugs to Rwanda for first, perhaps last time

From the Vancouver Sun:
Seven million pills will leave Toronto Wednesday bound for Rwanda, the first and perhaps the last shipment of generic, low-cost drugs to treat HIV-AIDS produced under Canada's Access to Medicine Regime (CAMR).

This is the first time any manufacturer in any country has used such a licensing framework to get essential medicine to people in the developing world.

But Apotex, the drug manufacturer that produced the pills, says the Canadian legislation - and the World Trade Organization regulations it's based on - has created such a complicated, costly system, the company won't be doing it again unless the regulations are changed.

"It took us more than four years just to get to this point," says Elie Betito, director of public affairs for Apotex, the generic-drug manufacturer supplying the pills. "It's a huge process, with huge costs involved.

"We will not be doing this again."

The process began when humanitarian organization Medecins Sans Frontieres asked Apotex to produce a generic version of several costly, brand-name antiretroviral medications - treatments easily accessible to patients in the developed world and proven to prolong the life of most AIDS patients for years. ...more

Lung drug linked to heart risks: study

From CBC News:
An inhaled lung medication used to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and bronchitis may slightly increase the risk of heart attacks, strokes and deaths from coronary disease, researchers said Tuesday.

The increased risks were found in people who took tiotropium, sold in Canada and the U.S. as Spiriva, or the older medication ipratropium, available generically and under the brand name Atrovent, for at least a month.

The findings, which appear in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association, mean that for every 40 patients using either drug for one year, there would be one extra death linked to the medication, said study author Dr. Sonal Singh of Wake Forest University's medical school.

The drugs are taken to relax muscles and open airways in the lungs.

The researchers analyzed data from 17 international studies involving more than 14,700 people to compare health risks of people who took the drugs to treat symptoms of COPD to those who took other inhaled medications for the same symptoms or a placebo. ...more

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

India's Ranbaxy hit by reports of Canada drug review

From AFP:
Shares of Indian generics giant Ranbaxy hit an 18-month low Tuesday on reports Canada was looking into the safety of the firm's drugs as well as on fears about its revenue outlook, analysts said.

Ranbaxy shares have been under pressure since the US Food and Drug Administration blocked imports of over 30 of the New Delhi-based company's drugs last week, saying they failed to meet manufacturing standards.

On Tuesday, India's business daily Mint quoted the Canadian health ministry as saying a "regulatory letter" was sent to Ranbaxy Pharmaceuticals Canada requesting an action plan and a response to the FDA's move.

The company, which is being bought by Japan's Daiichi Sankyo in a deal valued at up to 4.6 billion dollars, closed down 11.05 percent or 38.35 rupees at 308.85 rupees, its lowest level since March 2007.

"We're not responding to any media reports," said a spokesman for Ranbaxy when asked about the Canadian letter. ...more

Forget your meds at home while travelling? Pharmacies, walk-in clinics can help

From the Canadian Press:
Talk about injecting some unwelcome anxiety into a holiday or business trip.

You go to Manhattan and your checked luggage heads to Moose Jaw - with your medication inside it. Or you arrive at your destination and realize the pill organizer you planned to pack is still sitting on your dresser back home. Or your trip gets extended and you don't have enough drugs to cover the extra time.

Arnie Salmon, of Beechwood, N.B., knows too well the sinking feeling that comes with finding yourself in one of these scenarios.

Salmon, 47, takes two pills daily to control his blood pressure. Early this year he set off for Slave Lake, Alta., to take a job working on a pipeline. Snowstorms turned Salmon's journey into a marathon, forcing layovers in Montreal, Toronto and Saskatoon.

Some 40 hours later, Salmon finally arrived in Edmonton. But his suitcases did not. Unfortunately, Salmon had packed his medication in his checked luggage, figuring in the post 9-11 world he wouldn't be allowed to carry them onboard. ...more

First batch of AIDS meds leaves for Africa

From the Winnipeg Sun:
The first batch of Canadian-made AIDS drugs will leave for Africa this week, four years after the federal government established a program to get cheaper medications into the hands of patients in poor countries.

The shipment from generic drug giant Apotex Inc., will likely start its journey to Rwanda on Wednesday.

Apotex says it plans to send another batch of medication to Africa next year, but says the company won’t participate in the program any more until the government fixes laws that have left the initiative bogged down in red tape.

Canada’s Access to Medicines Regime was passed in 2004 with much fanfare and heralded internationally as an opportunity for Canada to be a major player in the global fight against disease in poor countries.

The government promised access to first-world therapies at reduced prices by getting brand-name pharmaceutical firms to negotiate with generic drug makers and allow the generics to manufacture cheaper AIDS drugs. ...more

Monday, September 22, 2008

BCMA sounds alarm on pharmacists' new powers

From the Vancouver Sun:
A new provincial policy that will give pharmacists the power to renew and adapt prescriptions without prior approval from a doctor could be dangerous for patients, according to the B.C. Medical Association.

Starting Jan. 1 next year, pharmacists across B.C. can exercise a new authority to renew customers' prescriptions and make limited changes to them based on their own judgment, and without consulting the patients' doctors.

The policy was initiated by the Health Ministry last spring, and announced in the throne speech.

It came up again Thursday after a B.C. Pharmacists Association document detailing discussions over fees for the services was leaked to media.

B.C. Pharmacy Association chief executive Marnie Mitchell said pharmacists will be given the authority to renew prescriptions for up to one year and to change a prescribed dosage if they judge it's appropriate. ...more

McCain, Obama rethink drug reimportation: aides

From Reuters:
U.S. presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain are reviewing their support for allowing individuals to import cheaper prescription drugs in light of tainted medicines and other goods made in other countries, their advisers said on Thursday.

Reimportation, as the practice is known, has been controversial for years, even as some supporters have arranged trips to Canada and Mexico for patients to stock up on cheaper medications.

But recent scares involving chemical-laced batches of baby formula and the blood thinner heparin -- both made in China -- have raised new concerns that safely bringing in additional medical products from overseas could be tougher than expected.

"Both candidates were in favor of reimportation and sort of subsequent to the heparin incident (there's) a lot less enthusiasm," said Dora Hughes, a health policy adviser to Democratic candidate Obama. ...more

Utah justices: Pharmacists could be negligent if they dispense withdrawn drugs

From the Salt Lake Tribune:
Utah pharmacists could be considered negligent for dispensing drugs that have been withdrawn from the market, the Utah Supreme Court said in an opinion Tuesday, opening the possibility their job duties will be redefined in a trial court.

The court revived a 2004 lawsuit that accused Hyland Pharmacy in Salt Lake City of negligence. Third District Judge Tyrone E. Medley had dismissed the case in 2006.

In 1997, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began receiving reports of valvular heart disease and pulmonary hypertension in people who had been using for long periods of time the appetite suppressant drug combination fen-phen - short for fenfluramine and phentermine.

By September of that year, the FDA asked the manufacturers of fenfluramine to voluntarily withdraw it from the market.

But patient Steve Downing, who began taking fen-phen in February 1996, continued to get his prescriptions for both drugs filled at Hyland through September 2000, according to the court's decision.

As a result, Downing suffered damage to his heart valves, said his Provo attorney, D. David Lambert, and he brought the negligence claims against Hyland. ...more

Doctors and pharmacists join smartcard critics

From E-Health Europe:
With its rollout coming closer, critics of the German smartcard project are once again becoming louder. Three regional political representative bodies of doctors, dentists and pharmacists are now supporting an anti-smartcard alliance.

The “Stoppt die e-Card” alliance was launched in January this year and is a rather diffuse conglomerate of civil rights organisations, regional interest groups and patient organisations, most notably the German AIDS-aid.

As a reaction to recent headlines about poor data privacy protection among health insurance companies, the alliance has stepped up pressure against the smartcard project.

And its latest statement has been publicly supported by the Kassenzahnärztliche Vereinigung Hamburg (KZVH), the Kassenärztliche Vereinigung Hamburg (KVH) and the Apothekerkammer Hamburg. The KZVH represents all dentists in Hamburg. The KVH represents all doctors in private practice in Hamburg. And the Apothekerkammer is Hamburg’s chamber of pharmacists. ...more

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Vioxx shows miracle drugs not always what they seem

From the Vancouver Sun:
If medications had personalities, Vioxx would be that macho guy in a Hummer who just took your parking space (and the one next to it), who then gets out, smiling and talking on his cellphone.

Touted as a "super aspirin," Vioxx was, for a time, the No. 1 pain medication in the world, backed by aggressive marketing to physicians and the public.

How it got to be "the single greatest drug safety catastrophe in the history of the world," in the words of a U.S. Food and Drug Administration official, is a fascinating story that's about to be told for the first time in a new book. Its author, Tom Nesi, is a medical industry insider, having been director of public affairs of the Squibb Corp., not far from the New Jersey headquarters of Merck & Co. Inc.

Merck's fortunes rose and fell on its superstar Vioxx, which had reached $2.5 billion in annual sales before being voluntarily withdrawn from the worldwide market on Sept. 30, 2004. That day, Dr. Peter Kim, then president of Merck Research Laboratories, announced that data from clinical trials "suggested an increased risk of confirmed cardiovascular events beginning after 18 months of continuous therapy." ...more

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Canada lags in publicly funded drug spending, study finds

From CBC News:
Canada lags far behind most of the developed world when it comes to covering the cost of prescription drugs for seniors and low-income families, a study suggests.

The Wyatt Health International Comparison report, funded by pharmaceutical companies, ranks 18 countries on access to new drug therapies.

Canada ranked 17th in public spending on pharmaceuticals, behind Finland, Portugal, Australia and Denmark, the review found.

“It is surprising that Canada ranks so low in comparison to these OECD countries,” said George Wyatt, the report's author. “This study raises several questions about limited access to and choice of medicines."

The findings underscore the need for a publicly funded, national pharmaceutical plan, Wyatt said. The group received a grant from drug companies to do the study, which he said did not influence the research. ...more

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Dion vows $900-million for catastrophic drug plan

It was inevitable that one of the parties would promise a national pharmacare plan of some sort. This might have some appeal in the Atlantic provinces, which appears to be behind the rest of the country when it comes to providing a comprehensive provincial drug plan. However, this issue never really seems to go anywhere. I think it's because there isn't a huge demand for it among most Canadians, who typically have existing drug coverage through the government or their employer.

From the Globe and Mail:
Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion promised a national program to fund high-cost drug treatments for people who suffer from serious and chronic illnesses, a program aimed at extending coverage to provinces in Atlantic Canada that don't have provincial drug plans.

The Liberals said the plan would cost $900-million over four years, and ensure people in all provinces can afford expensive drugs like kidney-cancer treatments that can run as much as $7,000 per month.

Most Canadian provinces already have drug plans of some kinds, but the four Atlantic Canadian provinces have far less coverage, especially for middle-income people under 65. ...more

Pharmacies suspected of selling free samples

From CBC News:
The P.E.I. Pharmacy Board is looking for help from the public to find out if some pharmacies on the Island are selling for full price drugs that were provided as samples to doctors.

The doctors get the samples for free from drug companies. The pharmacy board hasn't been able to prove it, but board registrar Neila Auld has heard enough stories to convince her samples are being sold.

Auld told CBC News on Monday she wants the public to be aware of what to look for.

"They aren't supposed to be sold through pharmacies; they're supposed to be provided through physicians as a sample," said Auld.

"I think it's happening. I think it's happening here and I think it's happening elsewhere." ...more

Shoppers Drug Mart targets 50 new stores a year

From Reuters:
Shoppers Drug Mart expects to boost its real estate portfolio across Canada by at least 10 percent over the next five years, both by expanding existing stores and building new ones, its chief executive said on Tuesday.

Canada's biggest pharmacy chain expects to open at least 50 new stores during that period, Jurgen Schreiber, president and CEO, told an industry conference.

The company, which opened with one store in 1962, currently operates more than 1,110 stores under the Shoppers Drug Mart and Pharmaprix banners.

Schreiber said there is considerable room to expand in Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta, where there is one store for every 60,000 people. This compares with an average of 24,000 people per store in Ontario. ...more

That's a mountain to climb

From the Vancouver Province:
History is full of leaders and thinkers who have experienced world-changing visions at the summit of peaks from the Alps to the Himalayas.

Pharmasave Drugs boss Sue Paish may be the world's first CEO to seek visions half-way up a notoriously awful mountain trail, hundreds of lung-busting metres shy of the top.

Paish, 50, puts in long hours at the office, in the boardroom and on the road meeting her Langley-based company's owner-members.

She does some of her best thinking, however, scrambling up the Grouse Grind -- the steep, 853-metre path up Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver.

Schedule permitting, Paish climbs the Grind five times a week. Don't press her to reveal how many minutes she takes to do the climb. ...more

Generic medicine shortage causing hardship for many

From the Weekend Post (South Africa):
A crippling shortage of generic medicine in the Eastern and Southern Cape is a bitter pill for consumers to swallow, with many now having to pay up to 2000 per cent more for original medication that would normally have cost a fraction of the price.

National pharmaceutical companies and generic medicine manufacturers say the shortage has come in the wake of the Beijing Olympics and the subsequent Paralympics.

China, the largest producer of bulk pharmaceutical chemicals in the world, temporarily stopped chemical production in Beijing during the build-up to the Games.

According to the department of trade and industry, South Africa imports nearly 100% of its raw pharmaceutical ingredients from China.

The production halt, which lasted more than a month, has caused havoc for pharmacists in the Eastern and Southern Cape, who‘ve had to bear the brunt of patients‘ frustration. ...more

Patients at care homes get pills they don’t need

From the Belfast Telegraph:
Over half of nursing home patients in Northern Ireland are prescribed inappropriate drugs for sedation when there is no medical need, research claimed today.

The study launched at the British Pharmaceutical Conference (BPC) in Manchester, found some 51% of nursing home patients are taking inappropriate psychoactive drugs.

The BPC said psychotropic medications have historically been used in nursing homes to sedate residents with no clinical need, including night-time sedation.

A psychoactive drug, or psychotropic substance, acts mainly on the central nervous system where it alters brain function, resulting in temporary changes in perception, mood, consciousness and behaviour.

Two pharmacy studies in Northern Ireland have focused on these drugs after the implementation of an adapted US model of pharmaceutical care, called The Fleetwood Northern Ireland Model. It takes a wider look at care in a nursing home setting and the impact of direct intervention from pharmacists. ...more

Monday, September 15, 2008

Prescription drug abuse grows

From the Nanaimo (BC) Daily News:
A longtime Nanaimo pharmacist says prescription drug abuse is so bad, some clients are only allowed a daily dose that they must consume before they leave.

The pharmacy fears the pills will end up on the streets.

Police do not know how widespread such prescription drug abuse is in Nanaimo, although they do not think the practice has declined. Police work within the medical industry to crack down on potential prescription drug abusers and high-risk individuals.

"Any time you have an increase in street level users there's going to be an issue," said Nanaimo RCMP spokesman Const. Gary O'Brien.

Nanaimo's Clearview Centre reports a 50% increase (in the past year to 18 months) in clients detoxifying from prescription drugs. In Vancouver, Downtown Eastside health workers say pharmacists offer methadone users cash kickbacks to fill their prescriptions. ...more

Clot buster may be given later for strokes: study

From CBC News:
Stroke patients can safely be given a clot dissolving drug within 4.5 hours, an extension of the conventional three-hour window, a European study suggests. The longer timeframe may help patients who can't reach a hospital quickly to access specialist care.

An ischemic stroke occurs when a clot blocks a blood vessel in the brain and cuts off circulation, potentially causing death or permanent disability. Doctors give a drug called tissue plasminogen activator or tPA by intravenous to dissolve clogs lodged in the brain to treat the most common type of stroke.

Treatment guidelines in Canada, the U.S. and Europe set a three-hour time limit for giving tPA because of fears that it may cause dangerous bleeding or other complications.

Given safety concerns, European regulators requested further observational studies and a randomized clinical trial on tPA, also called alteplase.

In Monday's online issue of the medical journal The Lancet, Prof. Nils Wahlgren of the department of clinical neurosciences at Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm and his colleagues reported no significant differences between subjects who were given the drug after three hours compared to four hours. ..more

Thyroid drug alternative here

From the Otago (NZ) Daily Times:
An unsubsidised alternative to a controversial thyroid drug went into pharmacies throughout the country yesterday, on the eve of a Medsafe announcement on its progress in finding a replacement medicine.

At noon today, Medsafe will report on its moves to find another drug as an alternative to Eltroxin, which is used by an estimated 70,000 people in the country who suffer from an under-active thyroid gland (hypothyroidism).

Associate Health Minister Jim Anderton said yesterday in Parliament an alternative would be available within a few weeks.

Two had been offered.

More than 830 reports of side effects from Eltroxin had been received by the Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring in Dunedin since the formulation of the drug was changed last year, although the active component was not altered. ...more

Patent system seen stifling medical breakthroughs

From the Globe and Mail:
An outdated intellectual property system is preventing lifesaving medicines and cutting-edge technologies from reaching those who need them the most, a leading expert on patents asserted yesterday.

"If things don't change, we're going to all have fewer medicines to treat whatever the next diseases are," warned E. Richard Gold, director of the Centre for Intellectual Property Policy at McGill University. "Not only will we not develop those drugs for cancer and heart ... but we won't get the innovative breakthrough drugs unless we change."

From communities in Brazil to corporate boardrooms, Dr. Gold and his team found an endemic mistrust among those involved in the patent system that is stifling innovation and preventing technology from entering the market and helping those in both developed and developing nations.

He and his colleagues presented their report, which was seven years in the making, to civil servants and industry observers in Ottawa yesterday.

The report found that the heavy-handed control on patents resulted in much controversy - and that change is needed. ...more

U.S. posts drugs under safety probe

The FDA Top 20 watch list is located here. Commonly used drugs on this list includes heparin, insulin, nitroglycerin, oxycodone, and quetiapine among others.

From CBC News:
Health officials in the U.S. on Friday began publishing a quarterly list of prescription drugs under investigation for potential side-effects, with the aim of keeping doctors and patients better informed.

The drugs are under review based on complaints from the public. Inclusion on the list does not mean the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has concluded the drug is dangerous, officials stressed, but that safety reviewers think the reported problem needs to be looked at more closely.

The first report of 20 drugs under review was released Friday. All of the drugs, except one, are approved for use in Canada. Health Canada's website includes similar warnings about the drugs.

"My message to patients is this: Don't stop taking your medicine," said Dr. Janet Woodcock, who heads the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

"If your doctor has prescribed a drug that appears on this list, you should continue taking it unless your doctor advises you differently." ...more

New Law Lets Pharmacists Administer Flu Vaccinations

From the New York Times:
Gov. David A. Paterson signed legislation this week that will let pharmacists administer flu and pneumonia shots, a change expected to increase the number of adults vaccinated statewide.

Starting Dec. 4, New York pharmacists who complete state training and certification will be permitted to give the shots with a prescription from a physician or nurse practitioner. Three-year certifications will cost $100.

“Allowing pharmacists to immunize would increase access to vaccinations, as pharmacies are open long hours, on weekends and most holidays,” said Senator Charles J. Fuschillo Jr., a Long Island Republican who sponsored the bill.

State records showed 20,303 state-licensed pharmacists at the start of 2008, with 16,219 listing primary mailing addresses in New York.

In their memo supporting the bill, Assembly sponsors said that every other state except Maine already allowed the vaccinations, and that studies showed adult immunization rates for annual flu shots improved significantly after such a change. In New York City alone, some health experts said, the measure could increase the number of elderly residents who get the shots by 50,000 or more. ...more

Self Service: A prescription for convenience

From Self Service:
When Don Waugh, co-founder and chief executive of PCA Services in Oakville, Ontario, started his company two years ago, he envisioned an integrated self-service dispensing and medication-management system designed for pharmacies, hospitals, medical clinics and physicians' offices.

About six weeks ago, PCA, which provides hardware and software for drug-therapy dispensing and management, developed PharmaTrust, Canada's first point-of-care dispensor.

The PharmaTrust Dispensary, which debuted at Sunnybrook Health Services Centre in Toronto, will operate within Sunnybrook's pharmacy during a three-month trial period to evaluate patient experience. During the trial, a PharmaTrust pharmacist will process the prescriptions, verify each medication dispensed, and provide medication counseling to patients using the automation-assisted dispensary.
"Basically PharmaTrust does everything you expect to occur in a pharmacy," Waugh said.

The pharmacy customer enters his script in the machine, and after a barcode is recognized and keyed in by a pharmacist, the system confirms the patient, the medicine, the drug plan, the card number, the billing address, the co-pay and the payment preference. A robot picks the medicine and brings it to the dispensing area, where the medicine is labeled and issued to the patient. The customer also can receive counseling from a pharmacist via a telephone handset. ...more

A Friendly Neighborhood Drugstore: UBC Students Design a Pharmacy for Women in Canada’s Toughest Neighborhood

From UBC Reports:
Call it a paradox of the Downtown Eastside.

The eight-block area has more pharmacies per capita than any other Vancouver neighborhood, but many female residents still leave to get their prescriptions filled.

According to Magali Bailey, a UBC School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (SALA) graduate student, it boils down to a problem of design. The prescription, says Bailey and others from the neighborhood, is Canada’s first social enterprise pharmacy for women, which opens its doors next month thanks to the design and fundraising efforts of 13 UBC students.

“Most area pharmacies are better at dispensing methadone than health information, because that is how they have been designed,” says Bailey, noting that the jump in pharmacies coincided with the city’s heroin-replacement program launched in 1997.

With barred windows and pharmacists behind plexiglass, Downtown Eastside (DTES) pharmacies are worlds away from London Drugs or Shoppers. Most are small and provide little privacy to discuss health issues, a major drawback as pharmacists are many residents’ primary -- and sometimes only -- link to the health care system.

“Many residents, especially women, looking for health information say they find existing pharmacies to be increasingly inhospitable,” says Bailey, who has been studying DTES pharmacies since 2007, when her professor Inge Roecker was approached by the City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Women’s Health Collective (VWHC) to design a centre for women’s health and wellness.

The result is Lu’s Pharmacy for Women, a culmination of SALA’s first community service learning (CSL) initiative. CSL is a teaching model that offers students opportunities for civic engagement through volunteer service and academic work. UBC’s goal is to engage 10 per cent of the university’s students in CSL each year. ...more

Narcotics case a first for Nevada

From the Las Vegas Sun:
Nevada bartenders are not liable for customers who drive drunk, but should the same be true for pharmacists who provide pills to suspected drug addicts?

That’s the question in a first-of-its kind appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court.

Patricia Copening was under the influence of hydrocodone on June 4, 2004, when she slammed her Dodge Durango into Gregory Sanchez Jr. and Robert Martinez, who had pulled over to the side of the road to fix a flat tire. Sanchez died and Martinez was severely injured.

Copening served nine months in the Clark County Detention Center for the crime. Now, the families of the two men have sued Copening, the two doctors who supplied her the pills, and seven pharmacies that dispensed her medications. The pharmacies are liable, the victims’ attorney argues, because they continued to fill prescriptions even after being notified of Copening’s drug abuse.

Nevada was among the first states to track every prescription filled in the state for the purpose of reducing drug abuse. The state tracks the date, medication type, quantity and name of the patient, prescribing doctor and pharmacy.

Almost a year before the accident, on June 24, 2003, the Prescription Controlled Substance Abuse Prevention Task Force warned all the doctors and pharmacies that had supplied Copening that she may be a drug abuser. The letter to the pharmacists did not tell them what to do, but urged them to “use their professional expertise to assist patients who may be abusing controlled substances.”...more

Friday, September 12, 2008

HSE may pay back €50m to pharmacies

From the Irish Times:
The Health Service Executive faces a potential bill of €50 million as a result of a High Court ruling yesterday that it was in breach of contract over a reduction in payments made to pharmacists for dispensing drugs under various State schemes.

The HSE said yesterday that it "may" have to pay back that sum which has been generated so far as a result of the reductions in payments to pharmacists.

The HSE had reduced the margin paid to pharmaceutical wholesalers from 17 per cent to 8 per cent in a bid to save €100 million. However, as it had no direct relationship with wholesalers, to achieve this aim it reduced the reimbursement it paid to pharmacists for dispensing drugs and medicines. The HSE argued that the 17 per cent margin was shared between wholesalers and pharmacists in the form of discounts.

The president of the Irish Pharmacy Union, Liz Hoctor, said yesterday it now expected the HSE to immediately reverse its decision to cut payments to pharmacists, which was imposed on March 1st, and to repay the money deducted.

The union, the representative body for over 1,800 pharmacists, welcomed the judgment of Ms Justice Mary Finlay Geoghegan in the case, which was taken by Hickey's Pharmacies. ...more

Doctors call methadone kickbacks a 'big problem'

From the Vancouver Province:
Addictions doctors in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside have complained for months about pharmacists luring heroin addicts for their lucrative methadone prescriptions, and say rules around dispensing fees have to change.

"A lot of doctors have been frustrated by this," said Dr. Stan deVlaming, medical director for Inner City Primary Health Care for Vancouver Coastal Health Authority. "There have been numerous complaints spread over months for at least a year. . . It's a big problem, not a small one."

Heroin addicts prescribed methadone, which quells cravings, are getting kickbacks for filling their prescriptions at certain pharmacies, particularly in the Downtown Eastside and in Whalley's downtown in Surrey.

Offering incentives is against PharmaCare rules and the B.C. College of Pharmacists and B.C. Health are investigating. ...more

End of NI pharmacy deal swamps practices

From Healthcare Republic News:
GPs in Northern Ireland have been swamped with additional work after a deal for pharmacists to treat and prescribe for minor ailments collapsed.

LMCs warned the change could undermine attempts to cut unnecessary antibiotic prescribing.

GPC Northern Ireland chairman Dr Brian Dunn said that since the scheme ended at the start of August, GPs have seen a rise in attendances by patients with minor ailments.

Since 2005, the bulk of these patients had been redirected for treatment by 500 community pharmacists.

In Craigavon, where take-up of the service was high, Southern LMC secretary Dr Arnie McDowell said: 'The suspension of this valuable scheme creates pressures for us.' ...more

ND telepharmacy project expands across country

From the Associated Press:
As recently as three years ago, many elderly residents in this part of southeastern North Dakota were forced to order their medications by mail.

These days, customers have a real drugstore and can talk to a real person about their health needs — albeit via the Internet.

Thanks to the virtual pharmacy system that has been tested on the frozen prairie, the days of walking down to the general store for prescription drugs are returning to rural America.

"It's perfect," said Jim Williams, a longtime Arthur resident. "You can walk down there and it's done in a few minutes."

Most telepharmacies are staffed with registered pharmacy technicians, who usually need about two years of schooling and earn about $15 an hour in North Dakota. Some registered nurses also have been trained for the job.

The pharmacy technicians use remote cameras to contact pharmacists in another location and show them the original signed prescription, computer-generated label, stock bottle where the pills are stored and the bottle the patient will take home. Once the prescription is approved, patients have a mandatory private consultation with pharmacists through real-time video and audio.

"We can do most of the things the pharmacists do except give professional advice," said Jennifer Joyce, the pharmacy technician in Arthur. Joyce knows all of her patients on a first-name basis. ...more

Rabies vaccines hit by supply problems

From the Edmonton Sun:
Public health authorities on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border are trying to reduce demand for rabies vaccine in the face of a serious supply problem expected to persist well into next year.

Supply limitations have officials scrambling to try to avoid what would be a public health nightmare — a shortage of a vaccine that literally means the difference between life and death for people truly exposed to the rabies virus.

“The rabies vaccine supply is tight,” said Dr. John Spika, a senior official with the Public Health Agency of Canada. “We are concerned.”

The Public Health Agency has been exploring the possibility of sourcing vaccine from manufacturers not licensed to sell in Canada, said Spika, acting director general for the centre for immunization and respiratory infectious diseases. Unlicensed vaccine would have to be imported under a “special access” program for drugs and biological products.

In the United States, authorities have formed a working group to explore what options would be available should demand outstrip supply.

Proposals include using an alternative dose and ramping up control measures aimed at reducing rabies in wild animals, said Charles Rupprecht, chief of the rabies program at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Ga. ...more

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Walgreens seeks to stop S.F. tobacco ban

From the San Francisco Chronicle:
Attorneys for Walgreens are seeking an emergency injunction to stop San Francisco from banning the sale of tobacco products in pharmacies.

In July, San Francisco became the first city in the nation to ban the sale of tobacco products in pharmacies such as Walgreens and Rite Aid, saying sick people getting their prescriptions filled shouldn't be faced with cancer-causing products sitting nearby.

But the ban, which is scheduled to take effect Oct. 1, doesn't extend to grocery stores or big-box stores that also have pharmacies. That's why the company wants the plan stopped, said Walgreens spokeswoman Tiffani Bruce.

"Our position is based solely on being fair across different types of retailers," she said, noting that smokers will just buy their cigarettes at another store down the block.

"Our pharmacists are trained to counsel smokers on smoking cessation products and how to go about kicking their habit," she added. "This ordinance will discourage smokers from coming to a place where they can have this type of access."

But Mitch Katz, director of the city's Department of Public Health, wasn't buying Walgreens' logic. ..more

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Provinces agree on need for national drug plan

From the Charlottetown Guardian:
Canadians facing life-threatening diseases need to know that they can afford the drugs being prescribed to them, says P.E.I. Health Minister Doug Currie.

Currie co-chaired a meeting of provincial health ministers Friday, which included Federal Health Minister Tony Clement, and all agreed that Canada needs a national catastrophic drug plan.

Prince Edward Island is one of only two provinces in Canada that doesn’t have a provincial plan to cover the costs of catastrophic drugs (those needed to sustain life).

But Currie said all health ministers agreed that it’s time to put a plan for national drug coverage, funded, of course, by the federal government back on the front burner. ...more

Weekly diabetes drug provides better blood sugar control, spurs weight loss

From the Canadian Press:
A once-a-week injectable diabetes drug appears to lower blood sugar somewhat better than the same drug injected twice daily, creating promise that the new formulation may be a more useful part of a Type 2 diabetes control regime, a new study suggests.

The drug, exenatide, also has the advantage of triggering modest weight loss - an average of just over 3.5 kilograms - in people taking it, making it the only available diabetes drug to do so. While some diabetes drugs are "weight neutral," most cause weight gain, which can complicate diabetes control and undermine a person's willingness to take their medication.

The results of the study were published Monday by the journal The Lancet to coincide with their release at a scientific meeting in Rome.

Lead author Dr. Daniel Drucker, from Toronto's Mount Sinai Hospital, was attending the meeting and was not available for interview. But one of his co-investigators expressed excitement at the results. ..more

Pharmacies accused of paying kickbacks to drug addicts

From the Globe and Mail:
Pharmacies that offer cash incentives to drug addicts for their daily methadone prescriptions are under investigation by the B.C. College of Pharmacists and PharmaCare, the provincial government's drug-insurance plan.

“I can confirm that we have an active investigation … but I am not in a position to reveal any details,” Lori DeCou, a college spokesperson, said yesterday in an interview.

Bernadette Murphy, a spokesperson for PharmaCare, said the provincial agency was working with other authorities. “The investigation has been going on for some months,” she said.

Helen Weiss, who has been working at the Native Health Society Medical Centre for six years, said yesterday five or six pharmacies in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside have posed problems for years.

Methadone is prescribed to addicts as a substitute for heroin. To ensure that the addicts consume the drug and do not resell it on the street, the pharmacists are expected to watch the addicts as they drink the methadone. ...more

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Watch out for drug names that look, sound alike

I thought this was worth posting even though some of the drug names are not used in Canada. The message is still relevent. For example, Reminyl's name was unchanged in Canada. Also, Klonopin was named Rivotril in Canada.

From the Associated Press:
Take the generic drug clonidine for high blood pressure? Double-check that you didn't leave the drugstore with Klonopin for seizures, or the gout medicine colchicine.

Mixing up drug names because they look or sound alike — like this trio — is among the most common types of medical mistakes, and it can be deadly. Now new efforts are aiming to stem the confusion, and make patients more aware of the risk.

Nearly 1,500 commonly used drugs have names so similar to at least one other medication that they've already caused mix-ups, says a major study by the U.S. Pharmacopeia, which helps set drug standards and promote patient safety.

Last week the influential group opened a Web-based tool to let consumers and doctors easily check if they're using or prescribing any of these error-prone drugs, and what they might confuse it with. Try to spell or pronounce a few on the site — http://www.usp.org — and it's easy to see how mistakes can happen. Did you mean the painkiller Celebrex or the antidepressant Celexa? ...more

Prices of patented drugs set to decline

I was under the impression that most prescription medications were relatively cheaper in South Africa. However, this does not appear to be the case as their government is mandating lower prices based on comparisons with four other countries, one of which is Canada.

From the Business Report (South Africa):
Half of the originator medicines available in South Africa should be cheaper by February, which is the deadline for complying with interim international benchmarking prices.

Anban Pillay, the head of pricing at the department of health, said yesterday that half of these drugs were more expensive locally than in Spain, New Zealand, Australia and Canada, the four countries against which South Africa is being benchmarked.

Pillay said the four countries had been chosen because they had pricing systems that ensured the viability of pharmaceutical companies while offering their citizens affordable medicines.

"They also have respect for intellectual property, which is important," he said.

Pillay said the differences in price ranged between 10 percent and 50 percent. The sums consumers could save would be known in about a month.

The government has published a notice detailing the methodology to be used when benchmarking patented medicines. Interested parties have 30 days to comment.

Pillay said not all drug prices would come down. "About half of the drugs sold in our market are more expensive than in those countries, so about half will be [affected]." ...more

Security rules rile physicians, pharmacists

From the Pittsburgh Tribune Review:
Many pharmacists and doctors see new regulations to make prescriptions more tamper-resistant as one more burden being placed on them for others' problems.

Jim Lynn of the Smithfield Pharmacy in Fayette County said the prescription changes that will take effect later this year are an example of "more legislation, more scrutiny (on the medical professionals), as if it's our problem."

Starting Oct. 1, the federal government is requiring that prescription pads have three safety features to reduce the chances of patients forging prescriptions and to save the government money. The features are designed to make it more difficult to copy, erase or modify the prescription. ...more

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

National plan for exotic drugs unlikely: minister

From the Calgary Herald:
Canadians who suffer from rare diseases are calling for a long-awaited national orphan drug strategy as provincial health ministers gather in Quebec City this week, but Alberta's minister is not optimistic they will reach a deal.

Groups like the Canadian Association of Pompe, which represents patients with an unusual neuromuscular condition, said Tuesday the ministers must come to an agreement because patients can't afford the pricey medications for their diseases.

"When you're looking at a rare disease, time is life . . . they go downhill without the treatment," said Linda Pare, the Innisfail-based secretary of the association, whose son suffers from the condition.

Orphan drugs are pharmaceuticals for unusual conditions that often come with enormous price tags, costing as much as $1 million a year.

Alberta Health Minister Ron Liepert agreed a national strategy for drugs to treat rare diseases is important, particularly as the province moves ahead with developing a new pharmaceutical policy. ...more

Shoppers’ beauty stores raise eyebrows

After a really successful run, could this be a misstep by Shoppers Drug Mart? I'm not a financial expert, but I don't really see these stores catching on. If you want to buy cosmetics from Shoppers Drug Mart, why wouldn't you just go to the nearest existing Shoppers location? They seem to be everywhere already.

From the Financial Post:
Beauty has a new name at Shoppers Drug Mart Corp. - "Murale."

The largest drug store chain in Canada has unveiled the name of its newest store concept, whose first stores will open in Ottawa and Montreal in November.

"Murale is a beauty masterpiece that will give access to the most innovative and leading beauty products, services, consultation, and advice," said Jurgen Schreiber, chief executive of Shoppers.

The company said in a statement that the name Murale "is distinctive, expressive and highly suggestive of art and beauty". Shoppers first announced that it would open stand-alone cosmetic boutiques at the annual general meeting of shareholders this year.

The stores, which will compete with standalone specialty beauty chains such as Sephora, will carry dermatological skin care and luxury beauty items and fragrances. ...more

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Newer Blood Pressure Drug Better for Some Heart Patients, Diabetics

From the Washington Post:
A new study offers a possible alternative to heart patients and diabetics who need to keep their blood pressure under control but who cannot tolerate the standard treatment of ACE inhibitors.

Reporting at the European Society of Cardiology in Munich on Sunday, Canadian researchers said they found that the angiogenesis-receptor blocker (ARB) known as telmisartan worked well for the 20 percent of patients with vascular disease and high-risk diabetes who can't take ACE inhibitors. The study was released in the Aug. 31 online issue of The Lancet to coincide with the meeting presentation.

In the randomized, controlled trial, almost 6,000 patients with vascular disease or high-risk diabetes took either telmisartan or a placebo, and were followed for almost five years. Rates of death, heart attack, stroke or hospitalization for heart failure were tracked as primary outcome measures during the study period.

Mean blood pressure was lower in the telmisartan group by 4.0/2.2 mm/Hg, and there was a relative risk reduction of 13.3 percent for those taking telmisartan. Fewer patients on the medication wound up in the hospital for cardiovascular problems (30.3 percent), compared to those on placebo (33 percent). ...more

Study says direct-to-consumer drug advertising not that effective

From the Canadian Press:
Drug advertisements aimed at consumers may not be having the effect on sales that opponents and proponents of the practice assume they do, a new study suggests.

The analysis, by researchers from Harvard Medical School and the University of Alberta, looked at Canadian sales data for three drugs that were heavily advertised in the United States, ads which Canadians watching U.S. television would have seen.

The researchers found no evidence of a spike in sales for two of the drugs after the TV ads started to run. There was a marked increase in sales for a third drug but the effect was short-lived.

"I think that we've shown that the effects are pretty unimpressive for the three drugs we've looked at," said Harvard professor Stephen Soumerai, the senior author.

"Two out of three there isn't an ounce of effect."

The study was published Tuesday in the British Medical Journal's online edition. The authors say it is the first to actually test for evidence of an impact of drug ads by using what's called a control group. ...more

HPV vaccine shows higher rate of anaphylaxis: study

From CTV News:
The human papilomavirus (HPV) vaccine is up to 20 times more likely than other school-based vaccines to cause anaphylaxis, according to a study released Monday.

Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction. Symptoms include difficulty breathing, nausea and rashes, but can be treated easily if identified early.

Last year Ontario, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland launched HPV vaccination programs in schools, and more provinces are slated to begin programs in September. The massive campaign has had some parents asking questions about the safety of the vaccine.

The Australian rate of anaphylaxis in women following HPV vaccination is 2.6 per 100,000 doses. For most other vaccines the rate is 1 per million.

Dr. Julia Brotherton, lead author of the study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, said some women may be allergic to the vaccine components. So far researchers haven't found which parts of the vaccine are causing the reactions. ...more