HEALTH

NACDS submits statement on its members’ efforts to curb drug abuse

BY Adam Kraemer

ALEXANDRIA, Va. In preparation of Wednesday’s by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs and the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control entitled “Generation Rx: The Abuse of Prescription and Over-the-Counter Drugs,” the National Association of Chain Drug Stores submitted a statement for the record.

Among the contents of the statement, the Association commended Senator Joe Biden, D-Del. “We thank Chairman Biden, and members of the Subcommittee and Caucus on International Narcotics Control, for the opportunity to provide this statement on the abuse of prescription and over-the-counter drugs. As healthcare providers of these critical and highly beneficial products, we are deeply concerned about the problem of consumers’ using these products in potentially harmful ways. We will continue to work with Congress and the administration to find solutions to curb drug abuse.”

In the statement, NACDS shared that its members have taken to restricting access to methamphetamine precursors, implementing age restrictions on dextromethorphan and dihydroepiandrosterone products, and working with states to implement prescription monitoring programs.

NACDS also stressed their commitment to working with Congress to craft legislation that will shut down rogue Internet operators while still allowing legitimate pharmacies to function. In addition, the association urged Congress to work with the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration to issue regulations allowing the electronic prescribing of controlled substances.

E-prescribing, NACDS stated, offers numerous benefits that can help reduce the abuse of controlled substances. “A paperless prescribing system is preferable to today’s paper world because it adds new dimensions of safety and efficiency to current practice. Moreover, electronic prescribing offers enhanced controlled substance reporting and monitoring capabilities that allow the DEA, as well as state and local law enforcement agencies, the ability to identify potential abuse immediately.”

The full text of the statement can be found here.

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Schering Plough files NDA for Zegerid OTC heartburn treatment

BY Drew Buono

KENILWORTH, N.J. Schering-Plough has submitted a new drug application to the Food and Drug Administration for an over-the-counter branded version of its prescription heartburn treatment drug Zegerid.

The application was submitted due to a license agreement between Schering and Santarus, which was signed in October 2006. The agreement grants the right to market the OTC Zegerid product using Santarus’ patented technology.

Under the agreement with Santarus, Schering-Plough is responsible for the development, manufacturing and commercialization of Zegerid OTC products for heartburn-related indications in the United States and Canada. Santarus continues to manufacture, promote and sell its Zegerid prescription products in both 20 mg and 40 mg strengths for the proton pump inhibitor market.

“Schering-Plough is looking forward to working with the FDA to bring this prescription product to consumers as an OTC treatment for frequent heartburn,” said John O’Mullane, group vice president of research and development at Schering-Plough Consumer Health Care. “When approved, Zegerid will be a valuable addition to our expanding portfolio of gastrointestinal OTC products, such as Miralax, which was launched last year for the treatment of occasional constipation.”

Santarus is entitled to receive up to $22.5 million in regulatory milestones and up to $37.5 million in sales milestones. Schering-Plough previously had paid Santarus a $15 million upfront license fee, and a $5 million milestone payment.

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Kmart rewarding pharmacy customers with $1 promotion on OTC medicines

BY Jim Frederick

HOFFMAN ESTATES , Ill. Kmart is launching a new promotion that rewards its pharmacy customers with low-cost over-the-counter medications for every prescription they have filled at one of its pharmacies.

Under the new American Fare Dollar Program, pharmacy customers can choose from 10 OTC medications from Kmart’s proprietary American Fare brand for a cost of $1 with every prescription purchase. OTC medications in the program include aspirin, ibuprofen, children’s pain reliever, baby aspirin, nasal decongestant, cough suppressant, anti-diarrhea medication and cold and allergy tablets.

“We’re always looking for ways to provide more value … especially when healthcare costs are generally on the rise,” said Mark Doerr, vice president of Kmart Pharmacy. “The American Fare Dollar Program rewards our pharmacy customers with an amazing deal and introduces them to our great private-label OTC products at the same time.”

The discount chain, a division of Sears Holdings Corp., unveiled the program in its Florida pharmacies Friday. The promotion will roll to all Kmart pharmacies in April, the company reported. All of the $1 American Fare products, which are specially labeled, will be available behind the pharmacy counter. Regular-priced versions of the 10 American Fare products in the program will continue to be available on store shelves.

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