PHARMACY

Study shows positive results from adding Lipitor early to blood pressure treatment

BY Drew Buono

NEW YORK According to a new study, when Lipitor was added as an early treatment to lower blood pressure, the drug showed a 36 percent reduction in the risk of fatal or non-fatal heart attacks over five years.

The study, entitled Anglo-Scandinavian Cardiac Outcomes Trial, was conducted over a five-year period in Europe with over 19,000 patients, with the first three years being dedicated to comparing Lipitor, a Pfizer product, with a placebo. The additional two years were used for post-study follow up. At the start of the study, patients had high blood pressure and additional cardiovascular risk factors but no coronary heart disease.

“This study highlights the importance of initiating medical treatment for both blood pressure and cholesterol as soon as possible, and raises questions about medical guidelines that do not focus on early intensive treatment of multiple risk factors, notably blood pressure and cholesterol, in patients with moderate cardiac risk,” according to Bryan Williams, chairman of the British Hypertension Society Guideline working party and professor of medicine, University Hospitals NHS Trust, Leicester, United Kingdom.

Patients in ASCOT-LLA had normal to mildly elevated cholesterol levels, were not candidates for lipid-lowering treatment at the time of the study initiation, and received Lipitor 10 mg or a placebo at the outset of the trial.

At the end of the follow-up period, LDL-C or bad cholesterol levels were similar in both groups as a result of Lipitor treatment and the average blood pressure level was significantly reduced from 164/95 mmHg to 137/78 mmHg with the blood pressure lowering therapy.

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PHARMACY

Study finds overprescription of brand-name drugs in U.K. costs NHS $400 million per year

BY Drew Buono

LONDON According to a new study by Britain’s Committee of Public Accounts, appointed by Parliament to examine the accounts of funds appropriated by the government body, brand-name medicines are overprescribed, as stated in many reports.

Prescription costs in England are capped at 6.65 pounds (US$13.30); regardless of whether a prescription is a brand or a generic, the consumer pays the same amount and the National Health Service pays the difference. As a result of physicians prescribing branded medicines over cost-saving generics, the NHS is spending almost $400 million per year more than it would otherwise. The report blamed pharmaceutical companies with having more of an advantage over physician’s decisions in prescribing then the NHS does.

The British Medical Association, who also felt the hit from the report fired back by stating, “Citing how much pharmaceutical companies spend is not evidence of general practitioners being swayed by their advertising. In a free and open market general practitioners sift the masses of data they receive from journals, primary care trusts prescribing advisers, experts, postgraduate education and pharmaceutical companies.” And the BMA made the important point that, while one in five of the 1000 doctors surveyed by the National Audit Office felt more swayed by industry marketing, it also highlighted that four out of five general practitioners rely on official NHS sources for their prescribing information.

David Stout, director of the PCT Network which represents the majority of primary care trusts, noted that patients as well as physicians should be given information about cost-saving generics. “Every pound wasted on a drug where an equally effective and cheaper alternative is available and clinically appropriate, is a pound that could be spent on another patient.”

The key is getting prescribers on board because if patients have no incentive to switch they certainly won’t want to. Should the public start moving away from brand-names, it could mean a considerable windfall for the generic drug companies.

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Taro submits Flo-Pred application to FDA in new PLR format

BY Adam Kraemer

WASHINGTON Taro Pharmaceuticals applied Thursday to the Food and Drug Administration seeking approval for its new oral solution, Flo-Pred.

Flo-Pred (prednisolone acetate oral suspension) is an anti-inflammatory or immunosuppressive agent indicated for a variety of diseases and conditions, including allergic, dermatologic, gastrointestinal and hematologic. 

The medication also enjoys the distinction of—pending approval—being the first oral steroid label in the FDA’s new physician labeling rule format. The PLR format, which went into effect June 19, requires new content, new structure and new highlights information, as compared to the former structured product labeling.

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