PHARMACY

URL Pharma’s gout treatment now available

BY Alaric DeArment

PHILADELPHIA A new drug for treating gout flares has become available.

URL Pharma announced the availability of Colcrys (colchicine), designed to prevent and relieve pain from acute flares of gout, a form of arthritis caused by buildups of uric acid that is deposited as needle-like crystals in the joints and soft tissues.

The Food and Drug Administration originally approved Colcrys in July to treat gout flares, approving it in October to prevent them. The drug is available in the form of 0.6-mg tablets designed to be taken twice a day.

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NACDS battles House importation plan

BY Jim Frederick

ALEXANDRIA, Va. Chain pharmacy opposition to new drug importation proposals is growing in urgency, as momentum builds in Congress for legislation that would allow Americans to directly import pharmaceuticals from Canada and other countries for their own use.

The latest skirmish is brewing in the U.S. House of Representatives, where Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, R-Mo., has proposed an importation amendment to H.R. 3962, The Affordable Health Care for America Act. The amendment from Emerson, who is considered an advocate for community pharmacy on some other issues, would authorize the importation of prescription drugs.

In response, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores today sent a letter to House Rules Committee chairwoman Louise McIntosh Slaughter, D-N.Y., and ranking committee member David Drier, R-Calif., expressing alarm over the Emerson proposal. NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson told the lawmakers that while the organization “shares the goal of reducing prescription drug costs,” its members fear that importation would put patients’ and consumers’ health and safety at risk, minimize the role of pharmacists in the dispensing of medication and counseling of patients, and adversely disrupt patient care and service.

“We do not believe that consumer safety can be assured under a prescription drug importation system,” Anderson wrote. “In addition to concerns about the safety and effectiveness of imported drugs, individuals who obtain medications through personal importation are less likely to benefit from the professional services of their local licensed pharmacists.”

NACDS’ CEO also expressed “serious safety and operational concerns” over the operation of a commercial importation industry. For instance, he noted, “the amendment would authorize the secretary of Health and Human Services to mandate the use of unproven ‘track and trace’ technologies that are costly and burdensome for the pharmacy industry and the healthcare system.” Such a system, Anderson told the House panel, would “add huge costs to prescription drug distribution,” and burden drug retailers and wholesalers with “complex, technically difficult” and “disruptive” changes.

The House proposal follows a similar move last month in the Senate, where NACDS has registered its opposition to the Pharmaceutical Market Access and Drug Safety Act of 2009, or S. 1232. Like the Emerson amendment in the House, the Senate proposal would permit the personal and commercial importation of prescription drugs from Canada and other nations outside the purview of the Food and Drug Administration.

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IMS Health agrees to acquisition by investment funds

BY Alaric DeArment

NORWALK, Conn. Healthcare market intelligence firm IMS Health will be acquired by investment funds managed by private investment firm TPG Capital and the CPP Investment Board for $5.2 billion, IMS announced.

IMS’ board of directors agreed unanimously to the deal, whereby TPG will buy the firm for a total of $22 a share, including the assumption of debt.

“This transaction enables our shareholders to realize substantial value from their investment in IMS with an immediate cash premium, while at the same time strengthening our position to capture long-term growth opportunities,” IMS chairman and CEO David Carlucci said in a statement. “With the backing of world-class private equity partners, we will continue our focus on expanding into new markets, further improving the quality and depth of offerings we deliver to our clients and playing a bigger role in the healthcare market.”

IMS expects the deal to close by the end of first quarter 2010.

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