PHARMACY

Marc’s offers $3.99 generic drug discount

BY Alaric DeArment

CLEVELAND A grocery chain has announced that it will begin selling more than 400 generic drugs for $3.99.

Marc Glassman, which operates 55 Marc’s stores in Ohio and six Xpect Discounts stores in Connecticut—45 and four of which have pharmacies, respectively—joins the rapidly growing number of retailers operating the generic-drug discount programs. Under certain prescription drug plans, some generics could end up costing less than $3.99.

Wal-Mart began selling 30-day supplies of generic drugs for $4 in September 2006. That May, Kmart had started selling 90-day supplies for $15. Since then, retailers around the country have started offering similar programs, including Walgreens, Hy-Vee, Target and multi-banner supermarket operators such as Kroger and Delhaize.

Advertising director Day Armelli told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that customers should check the list of drugs at www.marcs.com or call their local Marc’s pharmacist before coming to the store, because the drugs covered under Marc’s plan could differ from those offered by other stores.

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FDA increases drug warnings for TNF blockers

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON A risk of fungal infection has prompted the Food and Drug Administration to call on four drug makers to strengthen warnings on some of their products.

Johnson & Johnson’s Remicade (infliximab), Abbott Laboratories’ Humira (adalimumab), Amgen’s and Wyeth’s Enbrel (etanercept) and UCB’s Cimzia (certolizumab pegol) are the drugs affected after the FDA reviewed 240 reports of the respiratory fungal disease histoplasmosis in patients using the drugs. Of the 240 patients, 45 died from the disease, whose symptoms resemble those of the flu.

The drugs belong to a class of drugs that block tumor necrosis factor, which normally helps the body fight cancer but is sometimes overproduced, leading to diseases such as arthritis and Crohn’s disease.

“Amgen and Wyeth are committed to the safety of patients,” the companies said in a jointly released statement Friday. “Both companies maintain ongoing safety surveillance programs worldwide to analyze and evaluate safety reports from controlled and open-label clinical trials and patient registries, as well as reports received from health care professionals and patients. Both companies work with regulatory agencies to update the label periodically as appropriate based on emerging information.”

Amgen, they stated, will work with the FDA to finalize and communicate revised product labeling for Enbrel to both physicians and patients.

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FDA posts first quarterly drug safety report

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON The Food and Drug Administration has posted its first quarterly report on drugs under review for possible safety issues, the agency announced Friday.

The drugs are identified based on a review of reports in the FDA’s Adverse Event Reporting System and are listed under the Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act of 2007, which requires the FDA to inform the public of new safety information or potential signals of serious risk, based on reviews of AERS.

But, the FDA cautioned, a drug’s appearance on the list doesn’t mean it definitely carries the risk only because the FDA has identified a potential safety issue.

“My message to patients is this: Don’t stop taking your medicine,” said Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “If your doctor has prescribed a drug that appears on this list, you should continue taking it unless your doctor advises you differently.”

Please click here to view the full list of drugs.

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