PHARMACY

W.Va. senators, representative introduce prescription drug abuse bill

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — Two Democrats from West Virginia are sponsoring legislation in the House and Senate to combat prescription drug abuse.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller announced that he and Rep. Nick Rahall had introduced the bills, both called the Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, due to a dramatic increase in deaths and overdoses from prescription drugs in their state; the two originally introduced the bills in 2011, and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., also is cosponsoring the new bill. Rockefeller said West Virginia has one of the highest rates of drug overdose deaths in the country, and 90% of drug-related deaths result from misuse and abuse of prescription drugs, particularly opioid painkillers.

With 22 million people abusing painkillers since 2002, prescription drugs are second only to marijuana among the most widely abused drugs, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

"I’ve reached out to West Virginians — healthcare providers, schools, pharmacists — asking for new ideas on how to reduce prescription drug abuse," Rockefeller said. "This legislation reflects that real, on-the-ground feedback from West Virginia."

The bills include new training requirements for healthcare professionals before they can be licensed to prescribe these drugs; consumer education on the safe use of painkillers and preventing diversion and abuse; basic clinical standards for safe use and dosage of pain drugs; increased federal support for state prescription drug monitoring programs; and comprehensive reporting of opioid-related deaths to help guide solutions.

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PHARMACY

FDA approves Teva ADHD drug

BY Alaric DeArment

JERUSALEM — The Food and Drug Administration has approved a generic drug for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder made by Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, the Israeli generic drug maker said.

Teva announced the approval of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine extended-release capsules, a generic version of Shire’s Adderall XR, in the 5 mg, 10 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, 25 mg and 30 mg strengths. Teva sells a generic version of Adderall XR under a 2006 license and distribution agreement with Shire as part of a settlement of a patent lawsuit that Shire filed against Teva subsidiary Barr Pharmaceuticals. Teva has the right to be supplied the product by Shire until April 2014.

Generic and branded versions of the drug had sales of about $2 billion in 2012, according to IMS Health.


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Reports: Google Flu Trends may have overestimated epidemic

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — Google seems to have found a nifty niche for itself with Google Flu Trends, which seeks to track the influenza outbreak by monitoring Web searches for flu-related topics, but its accuracy may be in doubt, according to published reports.

Nature reported that a comparison between data from Google Flu Trends and official surveillance data found that the Google tool had overestimated peak flu levels. Nevertheless, according to Nature, the problem is minor, and the Internet services giant will probably be able to fix it.

Traditionally, flu tracking has been the work of agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States and France’s Sentinelles network. Nature quoted a French epidemiologist as saying that newer systems for tracking flu depend too much on existing ones.


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