PHARMACY

Doctors notice link between Tysarbi and melanoma

BY Drew Buono

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. A letter in the current issue of the New England Journal of Medicine is linking the multiple sclerosis and Crohn’s disease treatment drug Tysarbi with cases of melanoma, which have been appearing in patients who have a history of the cancer in the family after receiving the Tysarbi shots.

The authors of the letter state that almost immediately after receiving Tysarbi, the melanoma developed; both patients had moles on their bodies that had been there for years and never worried doctors prior to receiving the shots.

Tysabri is a monoclonal antibody that helps treat autoimmune disorders such as MS and Crohn’s disease. It first received approval from the Food and Drug Administration in November 2004, only to be pulled from the market three months later after several patients in clinical trials developed a rare but deadly viral infection of the brain called progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy. In June 2006, the FDA allowed the drug back on the market but with strict conditions governing its use.

“Neurologists who have patients who report a family history of melanoma or have funny moles should send them to a dermatologist first. Don’t just start them on [Tysabri],” said John Thomas Mullen, co-author of the letter and a surgical oncologist with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

“I can’t say it’s cause-and-effect definitively because it’s just an observation, but the first patient had had that mole forever. She took the drug and almost instantaneously the lesion changed,” added Mullen, who saw both patients.

An earlier study of the drug showed problems with one patient who eventually died of a metastatic melanoma after receiving the drug.

The drug is continuing to be used, but patients and doctors are urged to go over a full family history before taking the drug.

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PHARMACY

Parata launches PACMED C30 packaging technology

BY Drew Buono

DURHAM, N.C. Parata Systems has launched its new product, the PACMED C30, which is a packaging technology used to extend the safety and convenience of its onePAC packaging system.

onePac is a strip that contains information like patients’ medications, patient names, pill descriptions and time of day to take a dose of the medication. On the strip, up to 19 lines of information can be held. The goal of the strips are to remind patients who take multiple medications when to take what medications and how much of each medication.

The PACMED C30 expands on the technology of the onePAC by combining multiple onePAC strips together for easy access by patients. PACMED C30 is efficient and accurate, generating up to 60 unit-dose or 50 multi-dose packages a minute.

“Adherence is a critical touch point in the circle of pharmacy care, and Parata’s launch of PACMED C30 offers an exciting new way for pharmacies to extend their care by improving patient adherence, safety and convenience,” says Tom Rhoads, executive vice president for customer and market strategies at Parata Systems.

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Teva announces availablility of generic Fosamax

BY Drew Buono

NORTH WALES, Pa. Teva has announced the introduction and availability of alendronate sodium tablets.

This is the generic version of the osteoporosis drug Fosamax by Merck. The drug will be available in 5 mg, 10 mg, 35 mg, 40 mg and 70 mg strengths.

“Our customers count on Teva for a continuous supply of new generic products,” stated John Denman, vice president of sales and marketing. “With the launch of alendronate sodium tablets, we add another quality product to our broad line of affordable generic pharmaceuticals.”

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