PHARMACY

AARP, others call on New York for prescription pricing reform

BY Drew Buono

ALBANY, N.Y. AARP, the New York State United Teachers, the Business and Labor Coalition of New York, Civil Service Employees Union, Public Employees Federation, Consumers Union, New York Public Interest Research Group and the Center for Medical Consumers have joined together to call on New York state officials and leaders to make prescription drugs more affordable and accessible to New Yorkers through marketing and purchasing reform.

Among the proposals supported for inclusion in a final state budget are a prescription drug card, bulk purchasing, and an Rx prescribing educational program known as “academic detailing.” The discount card would allow people, regardless of age, to save up to 25 percent on their medications. The commissioner of the Department of Health could authorize bulk purchasing of prescription drugs in order to save money and create more access. Academic detailing would provide objective research to physicians to encourage more independent prescribing of drugs.

“Reforming how prescription drugs are marketed and purchased in this state would provide relief to millions of New Yorkers. Drug prices continue to rise and people continue to struggle to afford the medications they need,” stated Luci de Haan, AARP New York acting state director. “These state budget proposals are essential for providing all New Yorkers with accessible and affordable prescription drugs.”

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Study of Copaxone reveals that drug is not effective for patients in treatment of ASL

BY Diana Alickaj

WASHINGTON Copaxone, a blockbuster drug manufactured by Israel’s Teva Industries, has proven to be ineffective for the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, according to the company.

Copaxone, which earned Teva $436 million in revenue, was subjected to a 366-patient Phase II trial to investigate if it was able to reduce deterioration in patients with ALS. According to published reports, the study showed that the drug, although safe, did not increase rate of survival among patients battling the disease.

ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, plagues about 10,000 people in the U.S. and Europe. ASL leads to paralysis, and those who are diagnosed are expected to live within 3-5 years experiencing weakness in limbs, twitching and respiratory impairment, as well as other painful symptoms. Copaxone was the leading therapy for multiple sclerosis in the U.S., but based on the new findings, Teva will continue to search for other options in treating the disease.

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Manitoba pharmaceutical regulator tries to end online pharmacies

BY Drew Buono

MANITOBA, Canada The Manitoba Pharmaceutical Association is attempting to put a stranglehold on the province’s Internet pharmacy business, according to CBC news. Manitoba conducts a good deal of online pharmacy business.

The association has approved a new rule that would prevent pharmacies from filling out-of-province prescriptions starting June 30. If pharmacies don’t comply with this new rule, they can have their licenses revoked.

Troy Harwood-Jones, of the Manitoba International Pharmacy Association, said that kind of rule is unheard of in other provinces, and in a recent vote, more than 70 percent of pharmacists voted against it.

In response, the province has assigned a mediator to try to work something out between the Internet pharmacies and the association. Although, Harwood-Jones said that if a deal wasn’t reached, he thought many of the 20 Internet pharmacies in the province would leave.

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