PHARMACY

APhA encourages consumers to consult pharmacists about heart health

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — February is American Heart Month, and a professional group representing the country’s pharmacists is using that as an opportunity to encourage the public to learn how to prevent heart disease from the most easily accessible members of the healthcare system.

The American Pharmacists Association said people should talk to their pharmacists about available screening and consultative services that could prevent and detect health problems usually associated with heart disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, and is a major cause of disability, with an estimated 785,000 having first-time heart attacks, and 470,000 having recurrent attacks in 2010, according to the American Heart Association.

Services that pharmacists often offer include blood-pressure screenings; cholesterol screenings; basal metabolism index screenings; blood-glucose testing; tobacco-cessation counseling; and counseling on diet, exercise and healthy living, the APhA noted.

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Report: Exclusivity period for biotech drugs may be reduced to seven years

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration’s proposed budget for 2012 contains an item that could change the game for biosimilars, according to published reports.

According to the reports, the administration would lower the 12-year data exclusivity period for biotech drugs mandated in the healthcare-reform law to seven years.

The administration originally supported a seven-year exclusivity period while the biosimilars provision still was under debate in Congress, though the final version of the healthcare bill that President Obama signed into law allowed for 12 years. The 12-year period was favored by branded drug and biotech companies, while the generic drug industry wanted an exclusivity period of five years, as pharmaceutical drugs have.

The data exclusivity period is the amount of time the Food and Drug Administration must wait after approving the branded version of a drug before it can accept an application for a generic or biosimilar version.

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FDA OKs Abilify as maintenance treatment for bipolar disorder

BY Alaric DeArment

PRINCETON, N.J. — The Food and Drug Administration has approved a psychiatric drug for treating bipolar disorder when used in combination with one of two other drugs.

The FDA approved Abilify (aripiprazole), made by Bristol-Myers Squibb and Otsuka Pharmaceutical, as an adjunct to lithium or valproate for maintenance treatment of bipolar I disorder.

The FDA approved Abilify as an adjunct to lithium or valproate for acute treatment of manic or mixed episodes associated with bipolar I disorder in May 2008. The drug also is approved as a stand-alone treatment for the disorder.

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