PHARMACY

FTC approves Valeant’s acquisitions of Dermik, Ortho Dermatologics

BY Alaric DeArment

MISSISSAUGA, Ontario — The Federal Trade Commission has voted to approve Valeant’s acquisitions of Dermik, a unit of French drug maker Sanofi that makes drugs for skin conditions, and Ortho Dermatologics, a division of Johnson & Johnson that also makes skin drugs.

At the same time, the FTC is requiring Valeant to dissolve its collaboration with Spear Pharmaceuticals related to the wrinkle and pigmentation disorder drug Refissa (tretinoin) and generic emollient cream, and divest its generic version of Sanofi’s acne drug BenzaClin (clindamycin and benzoyl peroxide gel) and its authorized generic version of its own actinic and solar keratosis drug, Efudex (fluorouracil cream).

The company said it expected to complete its acquisition of Ortho Dermatologics on Monday and of Dermik by the end of the year.

 


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PHARMACY

Report: New Wash. law cuts off patient access to painkillers

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — A new law in Washington state intended to curb accidental deaths related to opioid painkillers is having some adverse side effects, according to published reports.

The Seattle Times reported that the law has led dozens of clinics and hospitals around the state to refuse to treat pain patients or prescribe drugs like oxycodone due to the financial and regulatory burdens that the law places on them. Meanwhile, the state’s Medicaid program encourages patients to use methadone, which, while an effective painkiller, can also be dangerous as it can linger in the bloodstream for days after its effects have worn off, building up and potentially leading to harmful and even deadly side effects. Because most users of methadone are poor, deaths from methadone overdoses tend to be clustered in the poorest areas of the state, the newspaper reported.

The article also included a profile of Charles Passantino, a resident of the Tacoma, Wash., area with diabetes and liver disease who experienced months of pain with no drug treatments after his doctor stopped prescribing oxycodone as he and his wife searched for a Medicaid provider who would write a new prescription.

The law passed 96-1 in the state’s House and 36-12 in the Senate, bolstered by testimony from medical experts who cited statistics about accidental deaths from opioids, predictions of $13 million in savings to the state government and anecdotal accounts from its sponsors, state Rep. Jim Moeller and Sen. Karen Keiser, according to the Times.


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Pharmacists, nurses take top two spots in Gallup integrity survey

BY Antoinette Alexander

PRINCETON, N.J. — For the ninth consecutive year, pharmacists ranked in the top three of Gallup’s annual "Honesty and Ethics" survey, coming in just behind nurses, who took the lead.

Pharmacists ranked second to nurses and ahead of doctors, moving up one place from last year’s survey. Among respondents, 73% rated the honesty and ethical standards of pharmacists as “very high” or “high.”

“The Gallup survey reflects the unsurpassed value of community pharmacy in improving patient health and reducing healthcare costs across the board,” stated National Association of Chain Drug Stores president and CEO Steve Anderson, commenting on the Gallup survey results. “As the face of neighborhood health care, pharmacists are accessible healthcare providers, with nearly all Americans living within 5 miles of a community pharmacy."

“As the Gallup survey supports, pharmacists are highly trusted individuals. Pharmacists require a minimum of six years of professional education to receive their degree and license. They are highly qualified medical professionals, providing medication therapy management services. Through medication counseling, pharmacists work one-to-one with patients to help them understand why it’s important to take medications as prescribed, also known as medication adherence,” Anderson stated.

Americans gave nurses the highest honesty and ethical rating, with 84% rating the honesty and ethical standards as “very high” or “high.” Nurses consistently top the list, having done so each year since they were first included in 1999 — apart from 2001, when firefighters were included on a one-time basis to measure public support for them after their heroic actions on Sept. 11.

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Nov. 28 to Dec. 1, 2011, with a random sample of 1,012 adults, ages 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

To view the full survey results click here.

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