PHARMACY

Rheumatoid arthritis drugs don’t affect cancer risk, researchers find

BY Alaric DeArment

CHICAGO Spanish researchers have found that drugs for rheumatoid arthritis called TNF blockers don’t appear to increase the risk of cancer, the researchers announced Saturday.

The drugs block a protein called the tumor necrosis factor, which is part of the immune system and is linked to arthritic inflammation. Some studies have shown that they increase the risk of cancer because they suppress the immune system, but the researchers did not find a statistical difference between the two groups of patients studied.

The research included one group of 4,500 people who took TNF blockers between 2001 and 2007, and another that included data from between 1999 and 2005 from almost 800 people who did not take the drugs.

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FDA launches new Web page to provide safety information on prescription drugs

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON The Food and Drug Administration announced Wednesday that it had launched a Web page to provide consumers and healthcare professionals with a single source of safety information about prescription drugs.

The page, www.fda.gov/cder/drugsafety.htm, provides links to information in categories such as drug labeling, drugs with risk evaluation and mitigation strategies, regulations and guidance documents and warning letters, import alerts, recalls, market withdrawals and safety alerts.

“By placing Web links to these up-to-date resources on a single page, we’re helping consumers and healthcare professionals find drug safety information faster and easier,” said Dr. Paul Seligman, associate director of safety policy and communication in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “This type of communication is aimed at helping consumers and healthcare professionals make well-informed decisions about medication use.”

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FDA approves generic version of Epivir

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON The Food and Drug Administration has granted tentative approval to Indian drug maker Macleods Pharmaceuticals’ generic version of GlaxoSmithKline’s HIV drug Epivir (lamivudine), FDA records show.

The drug would be available as 150 mg and 300 mg tablets, but cannot be marketed in the United States because of patent protection.

GSK’s patent for lamivudine will expire in 2010. Epivir had sales of $246.85 million in 2007, according to GSK financial records.

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