PHARMACY

Statins could increase blood sugar, cause cognitive problems, FDA says

BY Alaric DeArment

SILVER SPRING, Md. — Drugs widely used to treat cholesterol may cause increases in blood sugar and other symptoms, the Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday.

The FDA announced that it would update the safety labeling for statin drugs to include the risk of increased blood sugar, or hyperglycemia, memory loss and confusion and risks associated with using certain statins with drugs for treating infections. In addition, the agency is recommending that patients undergo liver enzyme tests before starting statin therapy and as needed thereafter; previously, guidelines called for routine monitoring.

Statins include a wide range of drugs, branded and generic, such as Pfizer’s Lipitor (atorvastatin); Novartis’ Lescol (fluvastatin); Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Pravachol (pravastatin); AstraZeneca’s Crestor (rosuvastatin); and Merck’s Mevacor (lovastatin).

In particular, the agency said, Mevacor should not be used by patients taking drugs for treating HIV, bacterial and fungal infections due to the risk of muscle injuries.


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PHARMACY

Glenmark recalls seven lots of contraceptive drug

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — The U.S. unit of Indian generic drug maker Glenmark is recalling a generic contraceptive drug, the company said.

Glenmark Generics USA announced the recall of seven lots, imported from India, of norgestimate and ethinyl estradiol tablets in the 0.18-mg/0.035-mg, 0.215-mg/0.035-mg and 0.25-mg/0.035-mg strengths. The company said a packaging error resulted in blister packs being rotated 180 degrees within the card, reversing the weekly tablet orientation and making the lot number and expiration date visible only on the outer pouch.

The company said the error may result in the daily regimen for the drug being incorrect and leave women without adequate contraception.


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PTCB launches partnership program with employers

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — An organization that certifies pharmacy technicians is starting a program designed to encourage more technicians to get certified.

The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board announced Tuesday the launch of the Employer Partnership Program, which it said was for retail and health-system pharmacies that want to encourage technicians to participate in the PTCB certification program. North Carolina regional chain Kerr Drug already has joined the program, according to PTCB.

"Employers are an integral part of pharmacy practice," PTCB director of professional affairs Megan Sheahan said. "The tools provided by this new program will help employers facilitate the professional development of their employees and support workplace safety initiatives through PTCB certification."

Employers that become advocate partners receive an array of complimentary benefits, including free individual verification of a pharmacy technician’s certification status, monthly newsletters, company recognition on the organzation’s website and discounts on its official practice exam.


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