PHARMACY

APhA: Pharmacists can be go-to resource during cough-cold-flu season

BY Allison Cerra

WASHINGTON — Addressing the need for patients to follow good health practices during cough-cold-flu season, the American Pharmacists Association is encouraging consumers to consult with their local pharmacist on ways to maintain well-being.

APhA said that a pharmacist can help patients with such things as:

  • Getting a flu shot — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend all persons ages 6 months or older receive a flu vaccine. The vaccine is available throughout the flu season, or as long as supply lasts;

  • Identifying the differences between a common cold and the flu — A pharmacist can discuss symptoms with patients and offer advice on the best course of action;

  • Suggesting the best over-the-counter medications — By providing a pharmacist with a list of all the medications a consumer currently is taking (and any over-the-counter products he or she has already used) and the results achieved, a pharmacist can assist a patient with what medications (if any) would be most effective; and

  • Offering a recommendation when a healthcare provider should be seen.

Earlier this month, the APhA encouraged consumers to clean out their medicine cabinets and properly dispose of unused or expired medications.

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Sandoz commences mid-stage trial for Rituxan biosimilar

BY Alaric DeArment

HOLZKIRCHEN, Switzerland — Generic drug maker Sandoz has started a mid-stage clinical trial of a monoclonal antibody used to treat cancer and autoimmune disease, the company said.

Sandoz (pronounced “SAN-doh”), the generics arm of Swiss drug maker Novartis, announced the start of a phase-2 trial of rituximab, a biosimilar of Genentech’s Rituxan, used to treat such conditions as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and rheumatoid arthritis.

The company said it had developed a high-yield and large-scale production process for rituximab at its factory in Schaftenau, Austria.

“This key development milestone demonstrates that Sandoz, the pioneer in biosimilars, is on track to maintain its global leadership in the medium to long term,” Sandoz global head Jeff George said.

Indeed, while Sandoz has made biosimilars for the European market for years, alongside such companies as Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and Hospira, biosimilars largely have been limited to interferons and such drugs as Omnitrope (somatropin [rDNA origin]), a biosimilar of Pfizer’s growth disorder treatment, Genotropin. Biosimilar monoclonal antibodies are a much newer development, and analysts have said it could take years before they begin hitting the market in large numbers.

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Mylan’s generic Precose gets green light from FDA

BY Alaric DeArment

PITTSBURGH — The Food and Drug Administration has approved a generic diabetes drug made by Mylan, the drug maker said Tuesday.

Mylan announced the approval of acarbose tablets in the 25-mg, 50-mg and 100-mg strengths. The drug is a version of Bayer’s Precose, used with diet and exercise to improve glycemic control in adults with Type 2 diabetes.

The drug had sales of around $23 million during the 12-month period ended in September, according to IMS Health.

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