Thursday, October 30, 2008

A bit of a break

New posts will resume next Thursday - November 6.

Just what the druggist ordered

From the Saint John (NB) Telegraph Journal:
It's about to become much easier for New Brunswickers to get the medications they need without waiting for the OK from their doctors.

Changes to the province's Pharmacy Act come into effect tomorrow, significantly expanding the role of the pharmacist in replacing, renewing and, in some cases, issuing prescriptions.

"It's going to improve access for people who need their medications," said Lisa Zwicker, a pharmacist in Saint John.

"And it will save steps for us. Lots of times we have to stop and call or fax a doctor and wait to hear back in order to fill a prescription. It will eliminate that step. I don't think it will make our jobs any busier, but I think it will be better for everyone."

New Brunswick's 700 pharmacists fill more than nine million prescriptions every year.

Bill Veniot, registrar with New Brunswick's Pharmaceutical Society, said the new legislation finally recognizes the extensive training and experience of pharmacists.

"We're experts in drug therapy," Veniot said at a news conference in Fredericton on Tuesday.

"It's natural that we take on more authority with respect to prescribing certain medications." ...more

Ottawa to revive supplement safety bill

From the Globe and Mail:
Health Minister Tony Clement plans to reintroduce controversial legislation giving the federal government more oversight regarding the quality and safety of supplements, vitamins and other natural health products.

A spokeswoman for the minister, Laryssa Waler, said yesterday that Ottawa intends to go forward with new safety proposals to cover the booming and poorly regulated supplement field, but didn't offer a timeline.

The decision is likely to cause another pitched battle within the natural health products industry, where one major player, Jamieson Laboratories, yesterday issued a public call for stricter regulations.

It argues that current rules are so lax that Ottawa can't even order harmful products off store shelves and is only able to issue toothless health advisories.

The earlier legislation, known as bill C-51, prompted a vociferous campaign by some smaller health-products companies that said it would lead to government restrictions on the types of supplements available on the market. The bill died when the election was called. ...more

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pharmacists OK'd to replace, extend and renew prescriptions

From the Fredericton (NB) Daily Gleaner:
New Brunswickers seeking prescribed medications may no longer have to consult their family doctor, visit the emergency room or go to after-hours clinics.

Due to an amendment made last May to the province's Pharmacy Act, pharmacists now have the power to replace, extend and renew existing prescriptions. They can also issue new prescriptions for pre-existing conditions in emergency situations, as well as alter prescriptions to accommodate special needs.

Similar initiatives are underway in the United Kingdom and across Canada, including in Alberta, Manitoba, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan and Prince Edward Island.

"I think this is a good news story for New Brunswickers," said Bill Veniot, registrar with the New Brunswick Pharmaceutical Society, at a news conference.

"It's going to provide more access and better access to medications where some patients have had difficulties in getting medication. This will alleviate some of those things." ...more

Fort Erie pharmacist is tonight's speaker at Port High Authors Series

From the Welland (Ont.) Tribune:
Sherry Torkos almost fell over at the thought of becoming an author.

It wasn't that she didn't want to.

It was just that she had never thought about the possibility.

Now a decade into it, the Fort Erie pharmacist seems to have come to terms nicely with her second career.

Torkos is the second author to visit Port High as part of the school's authors series this year.

She has written several books in the past decade. The latest is The Canadian Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine.

Tonight she will talk about the importance of proper diet in maintaining health, as well as the role of health supplements can play. ...more

Safety Information Regarding Overdosage of Venlafaxine HCl Extended-Release Capsules

From Health Canada:
Health Canada, and the manufacturers of venlafaxine extended-release (XR) capsules wish to advise Canadians that the prescribing information for venlafaxine XR is being updated to include safety information about the risks of overdose.

Venlafaxine is in a class of medicines called serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), and is used to treat depression, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder (or social phobia) and panic disorder. Venlafaxine XR is sold in Canada under several brand names, including Effexor XR, Co Venlafaxine XR, Gen-Venlafaxine XR, Riva-Venlafaxine XR, Novo Venlafaxine XR, PMS- Venlafaxine XR, Ratio-Venlafaxine XR, Sandoz Venlafaxine XR.
For Health Professionals
For the Public

Monday, October 27, 2008

Epilepsy drug could help cure Alzheimer's

From the Calgary Herald:
Researchers at the University of B.C. have discovered that a drug commonly used to treat epilepsy and bipolar disorder significantly reduces brain plaque in mice with Alzheimer's disease.

The discovery, if replicated in humans, could lead to major new treatments for the debilitating brain-wasting disease. "If this works . . . it's going to benefit every patient with Alzheimer's disease," said UBC psychiatry professor Weihong Song, who led the study.

Song and his colleagues took mice genetically modified to exhibit Alzheimer's-like symptoms and then treated them with valproic acid (VPA), a compound usually used as a mood stabilizer or anti-convulsant.

They found the drug reduced the formation of plaque on the mice's brains, which in turn led to less brain-cell death and improved performance on memory tests. "It's very, very significant," said Song.

"There's a striking inhibition of the plaque formation." ...more

Leukemia drug may stop progression of MS symptoms

From CTV News:
There is new hope for patients who suffer from multiple sclerosis, as a drug initially developed to treat a form of leukemia may stop the progression of the debilitating neurological disease.

Researchers from the University of Cambridge have found that alemtuzumab not only halts the advancement of multiple sclerosis (MS), but it may also restore some function lost by patients.

MS is an autoimmune disease that causes the immune system to attack the insulation that covers nerve fibres in the central nervous system.

This causes the nerves to malfunction and then die off, which results in a number of physical and intellectual disabilities.

In the study, the drug reduced the risk of developing disabilities by 71 per cent compared to the common drug treatment for MS, interferon beta-1a. ...more

Full house greets 'faith-based' pharmacy

From the Washington Times:
Divine Mercy Care Pharmacy, one of fewer than a dozen pharmacies in the country that refuse to stock any kind of birth control, cigarettes, pornography or condoms, opened with a Catholic bishop's blessing and sprinklings of holy water Tuesday in Chantilly.

About 100 people, half of them children, crammed into the DMC Pharmacy in Sully Place Shopping Center to hear Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde preach about "transforming hearts through health care" amid boxes and bottles of Clearasil, Neutrogena and St. Ives Apricot Scrub.

"The most fundamental illness in our contemporary society is a pervasive disrespect for the intrinsic worth and dignity of every human person, whose life begins at conception," the bishop said.

Applauding the pharmacy for providing "a faith-based, family-friendly, pro-life environment," he called the opening of the DMC Pharmacy "a historic moment."

The store, just off Route 50 in one of Northern Virginia's busiest corridors, refuses to dispense birth control on the grounds that it destroys a developing life and that the hormones in birth-control pills are dangerous to a woman's health. Catholic doctrine forbids the use of artificial birth control. ...more

Millions of Flu Vaccines May Go Unused

From ABC News:
Flu shot regulations in states restricting pharmacies from freely administering flu shots may keep many people from getting immunized and leave millions of vaccines unused, many health care professionals say.

As the CDC looks to expand the scope of immunizations to the largest number of people yet, states that require citizens to get a prescription to receive the flu vaccine by pharmacists are finding it difficult to accommodate the increasing numbers who are recommended for vaccinations.

The policy will turn many people away from getting a flu shot, said Dr. William Schaffner, professor of medicine in the division of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University.

"Over the past decade, pharmacists have shown that they are very important partners in providing influenza vaccinations to the population," Schaffner said. "Having a physician's prescription is a barrier to more effective delivery of immunizations." ...more

National Pharmacy Association Insurance Covers Pharmacists For Flu Vaccinations, UK

From Medical News Today:
NPA Insurance has confirmed that individual pharmacists who have taken out the £99 NPA Insurance policy or pharmacy owners who are NPA members, providing a flu vaccination service, are indemnified.

Glyn Walduck, Head of NPA Insurance said: "It has been highlighted to us that some insurance providers are charging an additional premium for pharmacists wishing to carry out flu vaccinations. NPA Insurance would like to confirm that NPA members are covered by their NPA Insurance policy to provide a flu vaccination service. That cover also extends to any pharmacist who is employed or engaged (locum) by a member to provide the service so long as the pharmacist has been trained and approved. Locum pharmacists who have the £99 NPA Insurance policy will also be covered." ...more

Unused drugs costing NHS millions

From BBC News:
As much as £1 worth of every £20 spent on prescription drugs is never used by patients, according to the NHS.

A Scottish GP has called for a recycling scheme to stop hundreds of millions of pounds worth of unused drugs going to waste.

Some unused drugs are returned to pharmacists and incinerated, others are just binned by patients.

Dr James Douglas wants unopened medicines to be offered to patients who need them for free.

Drugs are often thrown away because clinicians over-prescribe or because patients fail to take their medicines. ...more

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Group lobbies to change N.D pharmacy law

I didn't realize that these types of ownership restrictions still existed anywhere in the States. I wish the pharmacists luck, but they are fighting a battle that was lost a long time ago in most jurisdictions.

From the Grand Forks (ND) Herald:
Spencer Clairmont cringed when he saw a television ad a few weeks ago featuring people saying they were surprised that they could buy cheaper prescription drugs in Minnesota or other states than North Dakota.

The ad says a 45-year-old North Dakota law that requires drug stores to be majority-owned by pharmacists is keeping drug prices artificially high. If the state Legislature would overturn the law, it argues, residents would see cheaper prices because stores such as Wal-Mart, Target or grocery stores such as Hugo’s would be allowed to sell prescriptions.

The advertising campaign, which touts Wal-Mart’s $4 prescriptions, is the work of a group called North Dakotans for Affordable Health Care, funded mostly by Wal-Mart and Walgreen’s.

“Their advertisement saying they’re the cheapest doesn’t square with reality,” said the 56-year-old Clairmont. He and his wife, Bev, both pharmacists, own Walhalla Prescription Store in this Pembina County town of about 1,000, 100 miles north of Grand Forks. ...more

Half of U.S. doctors often prescribe placebos

About half of American doctors in a new survey say they regularly give patients placebo treatments — usually drugs or vitamins that won't really help their condition.

And many of these doctors are not honest with their patients about what they are doing, the survey found.

That contradicts advice from the American Medical Association, which recommends doctors use treatments with the full knowledge of their patients.

"It's a disturbing finding," said Franklin G. Miller, director of the research ethics program at the U.S. National Institutes Health and one of the study authors. "There is an element of deception here which is contrary to the principle of informed consent."

The study was being published online in Friday's issue of BMJ, formerly the British Medical Journal.

Placebos as defined in the survey went beyond the typical sugar pill commonly used in medical studies. A placebo was any treatment that wouldn't necessarily help the patient. ...more

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

New Remedies to Treat Blood Clots Are Near

From the Wall Street Journal:
Several big drug makers are in a neck-and-neck race to introduce new drugs for treating blood clots, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes, killing as many as a million people a year.

The prize is a chance at a piece of the blood-clot treatment market, which analysts estimate could be worth as much as €15 billion, or about $20 billion, by 2016.
[Treat Blood Clots]

Drugs currently used to prevent blood clots, also known as thrombosis, are effective and sell well but have problems. One popular treatment is difficult to dose and introduces risks when taken with other medicines and some foods. Another is an injectable, making long-term therapy difficult.

Five pharmaceutical companies are working on new treatments for blood clots. Three drugs -- developed by Bayer AG in partnerships with Johnson & Johnson, Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH, and Pfizer Inc. in partnership with Bristol Myers-Squibb Co. -- are now in the late phases of clinical testing.

The new drugs are taken by mouth, which makes them easier to use, their dosing is less troublesome, and they need no laboratory monitoring. They are also potentially more effective than existing treatments. The drug developed by Bayer and J&J has shown superior efficacy compared with standard therapy in a recent study. ...more

Secret, double life of a Walgreens druggist

This is a fascinating tale of a pharmacist-turned-lawyer who exposed a major corporation's fraudulent practices.

From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
Neil Thompson arrived at Walgreens eight years ago with a pharmacist's calm demeanor, a disarming smile and an impeccable résumé that dated back to his boyhood at the family drugstore in south Minneapolis.

What Walgreens didn't know was that its new part-time employee had an ulterior motive: to expose the way pharmacies sometimes broke the law to make money. Thompson was so determined to stop the cheating that at age 45, he became a lawyer.

Starting in 2005, Thompson worked as a government-sanctioned undercover investigator, poring through records in the back offices of Walgreens stores. Little by little, he and a co-employee developed a case that Walgreens was overcharging Medicaid by millions.

Late last month, the secret lawsuit that Thompson and pharmacist Dan Bieurance filed against Walgreens became public. The U.S. Department of Justice announced that the pharmacy giant would pay $9.9 million to settle the case. The company said it had changed its procedures to end the overbilling. For turning in their employer, Thompson and Bieurance stand to gain $483,000 each. ...more

Inside an affiliate spam program for pharmaceuticals

I thought this was an interesting bit of insight into the world of internet pharmacy affiliates.

Bargaining with your health doesn’t just mean you’re heading for a shorter life expectancy, but also, increases the chances that you will either get scammed in the process, or have to pay more in the long-term while dealing with the health issues arising from using expired pharmaceutical with unverifiable origins, you bargained for at the first place.

Just like vendors of rogue security software and system utilities software contributing to the increase of cybercrime activities due to the high payout rates enticing the affiliate network’s participants to spam, engage in blackhat SEO and SQL inject sites to redirect the visitors to the scam domains, pharmaceutical affiliate programs do exactly the same by allowing spamming, blackhat SEO, botnet traffic through redirects, and due to high amounts of money they make - directly advertise the scam sites on the major search engines.

Affiliate Pharmaceutical ProgramOut of the close to a hundred (100) unique pharmaceutical spam affiliate programs currently operating, let’s find out what is driving the increasing levels of pharmaceutical spam by taking an inside peek at such a program operating since 2003, whose advertisements speak for themselves in terms of revenues - “Around 50 Americans (85% of their sales) purchase pharmaceuticals from their affiliates on an hourly basis“. ...more

Monday, October 20, 2008

Plan B is coming out from behind the counter

From the Edmonton Sun:
The emergency contraceptive drug known as Plan B could be coming out from behind the pharmacy counter.

The National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities wants to change the way the drug is sold, allowing it to be freely available on drug store shelves instead of behind the pharmacy counter.

Currently, women who want to buy the drug have to ask pharmacy staff, a condition critics have contended may discourage some from using it to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

The change would see Plan B stocked on shelves near the dispensary, so purchasers could easily ask for advice on its use if they need it. ...more

High fracture risk seen in heart failure patients

From the CBC News:
People with heart failure have an elevated risk for bone fractures, particularly a broken hip, and doctors should be on the lookout in these patients for signs of osteoporosis, Canadian researchers said Monday.

Among 16,294 patients with heart disease in Alberta, those treated for heart failure were four times as likely to have a fracture in the next year as those with other types of heart disease, the researchers report in the journal Circulation.

The heart failure patients were six times as likely as the others to sustain a hip fracture, the researchers added.

It was the first study to indicate heart failure patients are at greater risk for bone-weakening osteoporosis, said Dr. Justin Ezekowitz, director of the Heart Function Clinic at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, who helped lead the research.

"This intersection is important because orthopedic fracture, especially hip fracture, is very debilitating. On top of a very debilitating disease such as heart failure, this is a very big problem," Ezekowitz said in a telephone interview. ...more

Sunday, October 19, 2008

New treatment works

From the Vancouver Province:
A legal painkiller called Dilaudid is more effective in treating serious heroin addiction than methadone therapy, according to a groundbreaking Canadian study.

The North American Opiate Medication Initiative, also known as NAOMI, examined the effectiveness of prescription heroin on hard-core addicts in Vancouver and Montreal, who have repeatedly failed treatment in the past.

Over a 12- to 15-month period beginning March 2007, 115 addicts in the study were prescribed medical-grade heroin, while 25 addicts were given hydromorphone or Dilaudid in a double-blind study. A control group of 111 addicts received oral methadone.

The results, released Friday, showed improved physical and psychological health, a decrease in illicit heroin use and a drop in criminal activities among all participants.

The retention rate for addicts receiving heroin or Dilaudid was 88 per cent. All but one of the addicts receiving Dilaudid were not able to distinguish it from heroin. ...more

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Pharmacist retires after 60 years

From the Victoria (BC) Times Colonist:
Pharmacist Ed Rowley spent close to six decades working for the best of reasons.

"I like working with my sons. I think that's the whole thing -- I like my job," said the 83-year-old Rowley, who retired last month after a colourful 60-year career behind the counter.

During the years that Rowley worked with sons Craig, Grant and Bruce, "I don't think we ever had a disagreement."

Quips fly fast and furious among the four Rowleys, who are well-known in Fairfield, where the Gonzales Pharmacy has dispensed prescriptions since 1952.

Soft-spoken, with a wicked sense of humour, Ed Rowley has a prodigious memory. After graduating from the University of B.C. in 1949, he worked as a pharmacist until Sept. 23, almost 60 years in the same career, one he says has brought him many friends and much satisfaction. ...more

City woman's fatal drug OD spurs $3.7M lawsuit

From the Edmonton Sun:
The drug-overdose death of an Edmonton woman was the result of negligence by her physician and pharmacists, a $3.7-million lawsuit claims.

The legal action, filed in Calgary Court of Queen's Bench, says Dawn Merrill Johansson wasn't properly monitored while on antidepressants, even though she had survived an earlier overdose.

Johansson died on Sept. 25, 2006, after consuming a fatal dose of the drug citalopram, under the brand name Celexa....

...Pharmacists at the Great Canadian Superstore where Johansson had her prescriptions filled were also negligent for "filling a prescription for an antidepressant which the defendants knew or ought to have known was associated with ... suicidal ideation," claims the suit....more

Use of Codeine Products by Nursing Mothers

From Health Canada:
Health Canada is advising the public, especially nursing mothers, about the very rare but serious health risk to breastfed babies posed by codeine use in mothers. Once ingested, codeine is converted by the body into morphine. Some people convert codeine into morphine more rapidly and completely than others. The babies of nursing mothers who rapidly metabolize codeine may be at increased risk for morphine overdose due to higher-than-expected morphine levels in breast milk.

Codeine is found in prescription and non-prescription products used to relieve pain or to treat coughs. Despite the common use of codeine products to manage postpartum pain, reports of adverse events in infants are rare. However, awareness of this new information is important because in severe cases, infant death can occur.
For Health Professionals
For the Public

Aspirin may cut breast cancer risk

From the Globe and Mail:
A new international study involving Canadian researchers is providing some of the most compelling evidence to date that anti-inflammatory drugs such as Aspirin and Advil may reduce a woman's risk of developing breast cancer.

Researchers reviewed 38 studies that involved a total of 2.7 million women from five countries and found that those who regularly took non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) had a lower incidence of breast cancer.

Past research has indicated there may be a link between the anti-inflammatory drugs and a reduced risk of breast cancer, but some of the results were inconsistent. The new study, being published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, is the largest review ever conducted of these studies and provides strong evidence of a relationship between the drugs, whose generic names are acetylsalicylic acid and ibuprofen, and a reduced breast-cancer risk.

"It is encouraging and we should definitely look into this further," said Mahyar Etminan, one of the study's authors and a scientist at the Centre for Clinical Epidemiology and Evaluation at Vancouver Coastal Health. The study was a joint effort by VCH, the University of British Columbia and the Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, in Spain. ...more

Health Canada probes 5 deaths that followed Botox injections

From the Victoria (BC) Times Colonist:
Health Canada is investigating the deaths of five people who had been injected with Botox, and serious reactions in another eight cases.

All the deaths involved people who were treated for such medical conditions as neck and muscle spasms. Two occurred in children with cerebral palsy, including a nine-year-old boy given Botox for drooling - a condition for which the drug hasn't been approved.

The reactions suggest the botulinum toxin may have spread to other parts of the body beyond where it was injected, according to Health Canada.

Only one of the 13 reports Health Canada had received as of March 28 involved using Botox for wrinkles, and none was medically confirmed as "distant toxin spread," according to the agency's most recent adverse reaction newsletter. ...more

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Pharmacists want remedy for problematic overhaul

From the Guelph (Ont.) Mercury:
These days, pharmacist Carla Bradshaw wonders why she's in her profession.

Since Queen's Park overhauled the Ontario Drug Benefit program in late 2006, independent pharmacists like Bradshaw have seen their earnings plunge to the point many are closing up shop or selling out.

Bradshaw, who operates Remedy's Rx in the medical complex on Guelph's Westmount Road, is tempted to follow suit.

"It's hit hard," said Bradshaw, who has owned the business for nine years. "It's barely worthwhile for me to stay open as an independent pharmacist."

The changes that came into effect in October 2006 under Bill 102 reduced the government's cost of providing drug coverage to 2.2 million Ontarians. Among those, the list included seniors and people on disability support or social assistance.

The estimated yearly savings to the government is $277 million on the $3.4 billion it spends on drugs.

The changes reduced the markup pharmacists get for selling the products of manufacturers of generic drugs, which are less expensive copies of brand-name medicines. That dropped to eight per cent from 10 per cent, the Independent Pharmacists Association of Ontario reported. ...more

Pneumonia drug cuts heart attack risk

From the Vancouver Sun:
A vaccine that helps protect against pneumonia can also cut the risk of heart attacks, opening the door to a safe and inexpensive way to prevent thousands of cardiac deaths each year, new research shows.

The vaccine, typically used to protect the elderly against the most common cause of bacterial pneumonia, can lower the rate of heart attacks by as much as 50 per cent, says the study.

The study was published in the latest issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

"The magnitude of the effect was really surprising for us," said Dr. Danielle Pilon.

She is the study's lead author and an associate professor of medicine at the Universite de Sherbrooke in Quebec.

"We didn't expect the vaccine to lower the risk of heart attacks by such a high rate."

An accompanying editorial urges physicians to use the vaccine more widely as a preventive measure for patients at high risk of developing heart disease. ...more

Cold medication not for kids under 4, U.S. companies say

As drug companies in the United States put new warning labels on cold and flu medication for children under four years old, a Canadian manufacturer of children's medicine, said it would not follow suit.

Major U.S. pharmaceutical companies announced Tuesday they would change labels on cough and cold medicines to warn consumers not to give the products to children under four, said the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, a group representing the American producers of over-the-counter kids medicine.

"After consulting with the Food and Drug Administration, the leading manufacturers of these medicines are voluntarily transitioning the labelling on oral (over-the-counter) pediatric cough and cold medicines to state "do not use" in children under four years of age," it said in a statement.

However, Johnson & Johnson Canada said no such warnings will be put on the Canadian products yet.

"At this time the initiatives in the U.S. don't affect our products in Canada," said spokeswoman Tina Peyregatt. "We have been in continuous talks with Health Canada on the same topic but at this time we have not arrived at a decision." ...more

U of M pharmacy students best in Canada

From the Winnipeg Free Press:
Pharmacy students at the University of Manitoba have proven they're the best in Canada by finishing first in the 2008 Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada (PEBC) licensing examinations.

The U of M was one of only two programs in Canada to receive a 100 per cent overall certification on the exams. The exam process includes a written multiple-choice test and a clinical examination component.

It's the third time in five years that U of M has landed in first place. ...more

Pharmacists pay for state bungling

Can you imagine an equivalent situation, where a Canadian provincial government implemented a drug plan then didn't reimburse the pharmacies that have already dispensed the drugs? It would be a total mess.

From the Fort Mills (SC) Times:
Illinois pharmacists are stuck helping pay for the Blagojevich administration's bungled health care program expansion.

The Department of Healthcare and Family Services has been informing pharmacies they must eat the cost of drugs dispensed under the expanded FamilyCare program that two courts have struck down, according to a document obtained by The Associated Press.

The computerized notice, with a specific voucher number indicating the service that would not be reimbursed, carries a date of April 21. HFS has not explained whether that was when the prescription was filled or when the notice was sent.

It was two days before an administration lawyer told a Cook County judge that officials had not come up with a way to determine who had received medical care under the illegal expansion, from whom, or how much had been paid. ...more

Monday, October 06, 2008

Jean Coutu Group Reports Net Loss on Rite Aid Stake

From Bloomberg:
Jean Coutu Group Inc., the Canadian drugstore chain that owns about a third of Rite Aid Corp., reported a second-quarter loss because of its stake in the money-losing U.S. pharmacy chain. Sales missed analysts' estimate as consumers slowed spending.

The net loss was C$39.1 million ($36 million), or 16 cents a share, compared with net income of C$8.3 million, or 3 cents, a year earlier, the Longueuil, Quebec-based company said today in a statement.

Rite Aid reported Sept. 25 that its second-quarter loss more than doubled to $222 million, or 27 cents a share, because of declining sales and higher financing costs. It was Rite Aid's fifth straight unprofitable quarter. Canadian accounting rules require Jean Coutu to include results from its 30 percent stake in Rite Aid in its financial statements.

``Rite Aid is still a bit of an albatross, even though it's only worth about 10 to 12 percent of the stock,'' David Hartley, an analyst with BMO Capital Markets, said in a telephone interview. ...more

Sale of cough, cold medicines for children under 6 reviewed

From CBC News:
Banning over-the-counter cough and cold medicines for children under six might drive parents to resort to adult medicines, a U.S. health official said in weighing a recall of products to fight runny noses, hacking and congestion.

Some pediatricians and consumer groups are seeking a ban on the sale of the cough and cold medicines for children, saying the value of the products remains unproven and they are potentially risky.

At a public hearing Thursday, officials with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration agreed there is a lack of solid evidence to support the use of the pediatric cough and cold medicines, especially in those aged two to six.

But if parents turn to adult medicines, the results could be worse, said Dr. John Jenkins, head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Office of New Drugs. ...more

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Entrepreneur writes up alternative to drug samples

From the Halifax Chronicle Herald:
Nova Scotia entrepreneur William Adams will take centre stage Friday at a special awards ceremony celebrating innovation.

Mr. Adams is the force behind SmartSample, which replaces traditional pharmaceutical samples with a specialized prescription that physicians can endorse and give to patients. Patients can use the prescription to receive free samples from any pharmacy in Canada from its regular supply of medications.

A practice dating back to the 1920s, sampling is the pharmaceutical industry’s primary marketing tool. It also has a important role in health care because it allows physicians and patients to evaluate drug therapies at no cost.

But as traditionally practised, Mr. Adams said sampling is wasteful and incompatible with electronic health records, and has the potential to compromise patient safety.

As a new pharmaceutical rep in the 1990s, on the road for two weeks each month with a minivan full of drug samples, Mr. Adams quickly realized how challenging it was to meet Health Canada’s guidelines for pharmaceutical products. Like prescribed medications, drug samples should be stored at the right temperature and used before they expire, and Adams says that before pharmaceutical reps can collect expired drug samples, many end up in landfills. ...more