Monday, April 26, 2010

Heart drugs may be as effective as angioplasty

When you look at the increases in drug costs, think about stories like this. If drug costs increase as a result of innovative ideas and result in less spending in another area (resulting in a net savings) isn't this a good thing?

From the Vancouver Province:
Hundreds of people with angina may be unnecessarily undergoing angioplasty -- a common procedure to clear clogged coronary arteries that carries a small but real risk of heart attack and stroke -- because drugs alone work just as well, Canadian researchers are reporting.

The study challenges the conventional thinking that angioplasty provides more freedom from chest pain than medication.

Researchers from the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences and Toronto's Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre could find no significant differences in symptoms between patients treated with angioplasty and those treated with modern-day drug therapy alone.

The benefit of the popular procedure on angina relief "may be substantially smaller than previously believed," the team writes in a study published today in the Annals of Internal Medicine. ...more

Drug spending in Canada hits $30B

From CBC News:
Spending on prescription and non-prescription drugs in Canada reached an estimated $30 billion, or $836 per person, last year, but the rate of increase is slowing significantly, according to a report.

The Canadian Institute for Health Information said total spending in 2009 rose by about $1.5 billion over the previous year, but that 5.1 per cent increase was "the lowest annual growth rate observed in more than a decade."

The institute's annual report on drug expenditure lists spending trends for prescribed and non-prescribed drugs by province and territory and whether the spending was by government-paid drug plans or private sources. It also includes international comparisons.

In 2009, drugs accounted for the second-largest share of total health care after hospitals — 16.4 per cent of the country's total $183-billion health-care bill, or about $30 billion. Hospitals consumed about $50 billion. ...more

New guidance for homeopathy use

From BBC News:/
The regulatory body for pharmacists in NI has proposed that patients be told that homeopathic products do not work, other than having a placebo effect.

The draft guidance comes following a report on homeopathy published earlier this year by the House of Commons Science committee.

It reviewed the evidence base for homeopathy and concluded that it was "not an efficacious form of treatment." ...more

Friday, April 02, 2010

Drug spending continues to grow as use of generics also increases

From the Globe and Mail:
Despite the recession, drug spending grew a robust 5.5 per cent in Canada last year, hitting $22.9-billion, newly released data show.

Canadians filled a staggering 483 million prescriptions in 2009 – an average of 14 each. Per capita retail drug spending was $680 last year, ranging from a high of $820 in Quebec to a low of $518 in British Columbia.

The most prescribed drugs were for blood pressure control (74 million), depression and anxiety (61 million), heartburn (33 million), and cholesterol-lowering (32 million). Hormone replacement therapy, despite controversy about its safety, remains popular with menopausal women, with 26 million prescriptions. ...more

Sleeping sickness breakthrough announced

From CBC News:
A breakthrough in treating sleeping sickness has been announced by British and Canadian researchers.

They say they have found a compound that can kill the parasite that causes the disease by halting its growth on an enzymatic level, opening the door to drugs that will be able to fight the disease. Sleeping sickness kills 30,000 Africans each year.

"This is one of the most significant findings made in recent years in terms of drug discovery and development for neglected diseases," said Prof. Paul Wyatt, director of the drug discovery for tropical diseases program at the University of Dundee, Scotland, in a release.

Sleeping sickness is a fatal parasitic disease that afflicts tens of thousands of sub-Saharan Africans globally. The disease, known as trypanosomiasis, spreads through the bite of a tsetse fly. ...more

Schweitzer says Canadian drugs still needed after reform

From the Great Falls (MT) Tribune:
Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer is still moving forward with his plan to import cheaper medicine from Canada, despite promises made in the health care reform recently passed by fellow Democrats in Washington D.C.

Schweitzer says the health care reform does far less than critics allege and supporters claim. He says prescription drugs will still be too expensive. ...more

B.C. woman sues three doctors, drug store and pharmacist for alleged negligence

From Metro News:
A woman who's been left with permanent, severe kidney damage is suing her family doctor, two specialists, a pharmacy and a pharmacist for prescribing and dispensing a drug that should never have been given to someone with her symptoms.

Angela Gray's statement of claim, filed in B.C. Supreme Court, says tests related to her pregnancy in November 2006 showed her blood pressure had spiked and her kidney function was abnormal. ...more

Pharmacists defend medicine prescription but doctors oppose

From the Times of Malta:
It is inconceivable that doctors should lambast the Health Minister's proposals for pharmacists to prescribe medicine, according to the chamber of pharmacists.

Martin Balzan, president of the Medical Association of Malta, said the MAM was "surprised and disappointed" that the Health Ministry was "considering abandoning the ethical principles in the prescription of medicines".

On Monday, Health Minister Joe Cassar said his ministry was working to expand the role of community pharmacists by giving them the power to prescribe medicine after appropriate training. This would bring Malta in line with practices in other countries such as the UK, where this kind of scheme was implemented in May 2006.

But the MAM reacted negatively, saying "the current Medicines Act prevents medical practitioners from dispensing medicines to protect patients from a potential conflict of interest between the prescriber and the dispenser who profits from the sale of medicines".

The association made further financially-related comments, saying the reform would lead to "unsafe practice and a conflict of interest, which will further raise the price of medicines". It called for the "liberalisation of pharmacy licences" for there to be competition and subsequent decreases in the cost of medicines.

The Chamber of Pharmacists called the comments "long exhausted, feeble, non sequitur arguments," adding it took "bona fide professionals to change a mentality and move with the times". ...more

Drug kiosk rollout awaits regulation

From the Hamilton Spectator:
You can get cash, drinks and even T-shirts quickly and conveniently from vending machines.

How about prescription drugs?

The Ontario government approved the concept of "remote dispensing" of medicines in Bill 179, passed late last year, such as through high-tech vending machines or pharmacy technicians in remote locations -- all with electronic links to real-live pharmacists.

Proponents tout remote dispensing as a way to have pharmacy service in remote or underserviced areas or in hospitals overnight when it's hard for a parent with a sick child to find a drugstore that's open.

"You could have these in small towns without pharmacies and save people a lot of time," said Peter Suma of PharmaTrust Inc., which makes high-tech drug dispensening machines that will be demonstrated to MPPs, political staff and bureaucrats at Queen's Park today. ...more

Facebook to track rogue pharmacists

From the Nation (Kenya):
A Facebook account has been set up for Kenyans to report pharmacists who give them fake drugs.

The site will provide a forum for those with complaints about sub-standard and counterfeit drugs in the Kenyan market to alert the Pharmacy and Poisons Board.

The move is part of an ambitious campaign by the board to regulate the industry and protect the public.

Consumers can report adverse drug reactions, counterfeit products, and unregistered practitioners through the social networking site.

The initiative is part of the board’s service charter launch activities and the 90-day Rapid Results Initiative unveiled on Monday by Medical Services permanent secretary James ole Kiyiapi. ...more

Gonorrhea risks becoming a superbug, expert warns

From CTV News:
The bacteria responsible for the sexually transmitted infection gonorrhea are becoming so resistant to antibiotics in some parts of the world, they may soon reach superbug status, experts are warning.

Catherine Ison, a professor at the Health Protection Agency Centre for Infections in London, presented a report this week at the Society for General Microbiology Spring Meeting in Edinburgh, Scotland, discussing the growing problem of antibiotic resistance among gonorrhea.

She highlighted the possibility that strains of Neisseria gonorrhoeae will soon become resistant to all current treatment options.

Ison said some strains of gonorrhea-causing bacteria are now showing decreased sensitivity to the current antibiotics used to treat them: ceftriaxone and cefixime.

"Ceftriaxone and cefixime are still very effective but there are signs that resistance particularly to cefixime is emerging and soon these drugs may not be a good choice," she said in a statement released by the Society for General Microbiology. ...more/