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More physicians ‘warehousing’ patients as they await new hepatitis C treatments

BY Alaric DeArment

EXTON, Pa. — In anticipation of new treatments for hepatitis C, a growing number of physicians have begun intentionally delaying treatment for patients, according to a new study.

The study, by BioTrends Research Group, looked at the practice, known as "warehousing," finding that 1-in-5 surveyed gastroenterologists, hepatologists and infectious disease specialists had done so in the past six months, compared with six months ago, when the figure was 6%. The physicians are waiting for a new generation of treatments for hepatitis C that don’t use proteins known as interferons.

"The protease inhibitors — Vertex’s Incivek (telaprevir) and Merck’s Victrelis (boceprivir) — were very important advances in the management of HCV infections," BioTrends associate director Lynn Price said. "However, there is still a clear unmet need for alternative HCV therapies and the recent [new drug application] filings for [Janssen and Medivir’s] simeprevir and [Gilead Sciences’] sofosbuvir have physicians hopeful for new treatment options that are highly efficacious and more tolerable than the currently available protease inhibitors."

 

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House Subcommittee on Health explores pharmacy compounding

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — Aftershocks from last year’s nationwide outbreak of fungal meningitis linked to a Massachusetts-based compounding pharmacy continued to be felt in a House subcommittee meeting Thursday.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Health convened a hearing to examine the state of pharmacy compounding in the United States and the current regulatory environment under which it operates.

Since last year, more than 50 people have died and nearly 700 have become sick with fungal meningitis and other fungal infections linked to contaminated injectable steroids shipped from the New England Compounding Center. Compounding consists of mixing or altering medical ingredients by a licensed pharmacist in response to a prescription for an individual patient and comprises two basic types, sterile and nonsterile. Nonsterile compounding is done for such medications as suppositories, mouthwashes and ointments and can involve pre-packaged ingredients in kits or changing an existing drug, such as the common practice of breaking open capsules of Genentech’s flu drug Tamiflu (oseltamivir) for administration as a drinkable liquid. Sterile compounding involves injectable pharmaceutical and biotech drugs, and must be done in clean rooms under strict adherence to sterile practices; this was the type of compounding that the NECC was doing.

In light of the NECC scandal, many people such as Food and Drug Administration commissioner Margaret Hamburg have called for increased federal scrutiny of compounding pharmacies, and Thursday’s meeting was one of a series of actions taken by the committee to determine how to prevent similar incidents in the future.

"Compounding is a backbone of pharmacy practice and, for many decades, independent community pharmacists have provided millions of adults, children and animals with access to safe effective and affordable medications through traditional compounding services," Arlington, Texas-based DFW Prescriptions owner Joseph Harmison said in testimony before the subcommittee on behalf of the National Community Pharmacists Association, a trade group representing independent pharmacies. "When manufactured drugs aren’t an option, independent community pharmacists provide traditional pharmacy compounding to prepare customized medications for patients in accordance with a doctor’s prescription based on the patient’s individual needs. Traditional compounding services also can help bridge the gaps during times of prescription-drug shortages."

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B.ELEY says:
May-30-2013 10:45 am

Sometimes tragedies makes for bad laws. I hope they do not go too far to create barriers for pharmacies to provide services for thier patients.

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Forest Labs to find new president, CEO before year’s end

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — Forest Labs president and CEO Howard Solomon will retire at the end of 2013, the company said.

The drug maker announced that Solomon would still remain as chairman through the 2014 annual meeting, retaining the title of chairman emeritus after a replacement is elected. Solomon has served as CEO since 1977, chairman since 1998 and president since 2010.

An independent committee of the company’s board of directors is looking within and outside the company for candidates to replace Solomon and plans to announce a successor before the end of the year.

 

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