PHARMACY

Newark, N.J., gives its residents access to $2 generics with new program

BY Alaric DeArment

NEWARK, N.J. The city of Newark, N.J., announced that it is launching a program to offer residents more than 300 generic drugs for $2 under the “Brick City Respite,” a public-private partnership funded by the Heinz Family Philanthropies.

The program will run through Feb. 28, 2010 and cover 30-day supplies of such medications as the antibiotic amoxicillin and the diabetes drug metformin.

“Brick City Respite recognizes that our citizens need help, and being able to buy their medications for $2 is a wonderful way to say ‘happy holidays,’” Newark mayor Cory Booker stated. “This program demonstrates what can happen when great minds decide every challenge is really a solution waiting to happen.”

Brick City Respite is designed to provide temporary help to all Newark residents, insured and uninsured, in response to rapidly increasing medical costs, the city government said. The program complements the NewarkHealthPlus and NewarkRx partnerships created three years ago as a partnership between the city, the Heinz philanthropy and pharmaceutical companies to provide free healthcare and prescription drugs to poor residents with chronic illnesses.

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Valeant to acquire Laboratoire Dr. Renaud

BY Alaric DeArment

ALISO VIEJO, Calif. U.S. drug maker Valeant Pharmaceuticals International will acquire a Canadian cosmeceutical company, Valeant announced Monday.

Valeant Canada will purchase Laval, Quebec-based Laboratoire Dr. Renaud for C$21.8 million, leasing a 45,000-sq.-ft. manufacturing plant for topical products. Dr. Renaud has annual sales of $10.4 million, and the acquisition is expected to be completed in 2010.

“This acquisition is part of our continued efforts to build a leading dermatology business by adding respected brand names in our select regions,” Valeant chairman and CEO J. Michael Pearson stated. “Laboratoire Dr. Renaud enjoys a high degree of loyalty from esthetic clinics and spas, and we believe that Valeant will gain immediate entree into the cosmeceutical market in Canada. With exclusive access to a world class topical manufacturing plant and a successful sales and marketing infrastructure, we also have the ability to launch select U.S. dermatology products into Canada and further expand our reach in dermatology.”

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FDA warns GSK’s HIV drug may increase risk of heart attack

BY Alaric DeArment

ROCKVILLE, Md. The Food and Drug Administration and GlaxoSmithKline have warned healthcare professionals of the risk of heart attack and buildup of cholesterol in patients taking a drug used to treat HIV.

The FDA released an alert Thursday announcing that it had modified the prescription information for the drug Lexiva (fosamprenavir calcium) to note that some patients taking the drug have experienced increases in cholesterol, a condition known as dyslipidemia, and recommend that patients undergo cholesterol and triglyceride testing before and during therapy with the drug.

In other news, the agency warned of possible birth defects among babies born to women who take the epilepsy drug valproate sodium and related drugs during pregnancy, including defects of the head and face and circulatory systems. Valproate sodium and related drugs are mostly available as generics, and Abbott Labs markets them under brand names such as Depacon (valproate sodium injection) and Depakote (divalproex sodium tablets).

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