PHARMACY

Researchers develop rapid test for Chlamydia

BY Allison Cerra

CAMBRIDGE, England Researchers from the University of Cambridge have successfully completed the clinical trial for a new rapid test for the sexually transmitted infection Chlamydia.

Dr. Helen Lee, the lead researcher of the study, believes that the test, which is able to detect the infection in less than 30 minutes, could be a valuable addition to screening programs already in place, as well as providing a crucial diagnostic test in the developing world. An evaluation of the test in three UK clinics is reported in the British Medical Journal.

Chlamydia trachoma is the world’s most common sexually transmitted bacterial infection.

The new rapid test was developed to allow detection of Chlamydia using self-collected vaginal swabs, which is much easier to obtain than the cervical swabs required by existing rapid tests and is up to twice as accurate. The most commonly used testing format used by health facilities is the nucleic acid amplification tests. The rapid test, on the other hand, can provide results in less than 30 minutes while the nucleic acid based tests can take weeks. “The speed of the CRTs means that we can provide a ‘test and treat’ strategy, offering immediate clinical care to the patient,” Lee said. “This has the benefits of reducing the risk of complications and preventing onward transmission.”

The new Chlamydia rapid test could be used in settings such as mobile clinics and outreach clinics to help improve the screening coverage of difficult-to-reach populations, the researchers added. The development of the test was made possible with funding from the Wellcome Trust’s Technology Transfer Division. Its subsidiary, Diagnostics, will make the test available for the public in early 2008.

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RPCS to expand $3 generics program to Food Pyramid

BY Allison Cerra

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. A regional, employee-owned company is set to celebrate the successful one-year anniversary of its $3 generic drug program by expanding its services.

RPCS, based in Springfield, Mo., launched its $3 generics program last year at its 20 pharmacies located inside the corporation’s four regional chains: Ramey, Price Cutter, Price Cutter Plus and Smitty’s grocery stores.

For Black Friday this year, the company debuted a similar program at nine pharmacies in Food Pyramid stores in the Tulsa area.

The $3 price applies to specific generic drugs with up to a 30-day supply of commonly prescribed dosages. Quantities over 30 days or above recommended common dosages will be at usual and customary pricing.

Since its launch, RPCS’ pharmacists have filled more than 100,000 prescriptions.

“Senior citizens, as you would imagine, make up a large portion of customers taking advantage of the program,” Larry Storey, pharmacy administrator for RPCS, said. “However, we’ve found that everyone appreciates saving money. We’ve filled $3 generics for people from all walks of life and all age groups. We’ve actually saved the customer anywhere from $5 to $20 for each prescription on the list.”

The top five generics that customers are purchasing on the program are metformin, used to treat diabetes; hydrochlorothiazide, diuretic for cardiac patients; levothyroxine, for thyroid patients; lisinopril, to treat high blood pressure; and amoxicillin, an antibiotic.

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UCB files application with FDA for new pain reliever

BY Allison Cerra

BRUSSELS, Belgium Belgian pharmaceutical group UCB said on Thursday that it has filed a drug application with the Food and Drug Administration for its pain-relieving drug, according to Reuters.

Lacosamide, designed to treat epilepsy and pain associated with diabetic neuropaths, was filed to become an additional therapy in the treatment of partial onset seizures in adults with epilepsy and includes three formulations—tablets, syrup and intravenous injection, UCB said in a statement.

The drug’s proposed trade name is Vimpat.

UCB made a similar filing with the European Medicines Agency earlier this year, Reuters reported. The Belgian company already has blockbuster drug Keppra to treat epilepsy, although patent protection is set to expire in the United States by January 2009 and in Europe in May 2010.

Reuters also reported that the company’s other drug, with the proposed trade name Rikelta, is in Phase III trials to treat epilepsy and genetic epilepsy disorder Unverricht Lundborg Disease, while lacosamide is in Phase II trials for fibromyalgia, migraine prophylaxis and osteoarthritic pain.

UCB had also sought approval from the U.S. authorities for lacosamide to treat adults with diabetic neuropathic pain in tablet formation. The condition is often described as causing patients to feel a stabbing and burning sensation in the legs, feet or hands. Close to 7.7 million Americans suffer from the condition.

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