PHARMACY

Antibitocs seen as possible Chron’s treatment

BY Drew Buono

ORLANDO, Fla.

Some doctors believe they have found a new course of treatment for Crohn’s disease, a form of inflammatory bowel disease, in which the immune system attacks its own tissue. But now some doctors believe that the body is not actually attacking itself, but, rather, bacteria that naturally live in the intestines and aid in food digestion and pose no harm, according to published reports.

The course of treatment is prescribing antibiotics. The problem is, however, there is not enough information on the antibiotic treatment or on the disease itself to prove how well antibiotics are in treating the disease. Some patients see tremendous improvement in systems while taking antibiotics, other see no effect and need to be prescribed powerful steroids and immune-suppressing drugs.

Dr. Jonathan Braun from the University of California at Los Angeles said it’s too early to know whether the drugs could play a bigger role in controlling the illness. Though many suspect Crohn’s is linked to bacteria, he said there is no consensus on which specific types are to blame, which antibiotics are effective and how long a patient should take them.

The doctors may be the only ones who seem to be intrigued with this course of treatment. One, Ira Shafran, was quoted in his concern that, “drug companies, which typically don’t make as much money on antibiotics, will not be interested in investigating their wider use in Crohn’s sufferers.” Shafran has been practicing using antibiotics on his Crohn’s patients for years and has seen some patients respond remarkably and others not at all to the treatment.

William Chamberlin, an associate professor at Texas Tech University, also treats many of his Crohn’s patients with antibiotics, often using generic versions that he says offer a low-cost treatment with fewer side effects. “I cannot say it’s a cure for patients, though some do remarkably well,” said Chamberlin. “Others don’t really do well at all.”

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RPCS to expand $3 generics program to Food Pyramid

BY Allison Cerra

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. A regional, employee-owned company is set to celebrate the successful one-year anniversary of its $3 generic drug program by expanding its services.

RPCS, based in Springfield, Mo., launched its $3 generics program last year at its 20 pharmacies located inside the corporation’s four regional chains: Ramey, Price Cutter, Price Cutter Plus and Smitty’s grocery stores.

For Black Friday this year, the company debuted a similar program at nine pharmacies in Food Pyramid stores in the Tulsa area.

The $3 price applies to specific generic drugs with up to a 30-day supply of commonly prescribed dosages. Quantities over 30 days or above recommended common dosages will be at usual and customary pricing.

Since its launch, RPCS’ pharmacists have filled more than 100,000 prescriptions.

“Senior citizens, as you would imagine, make up a large portion of customers taking advantage of the program,” Larry Storey, pharmacy administrator for RPCS, said. “However, we’ve found that everyone appreciates saving money. We’ve filled $3 generics for people from all walks of life and all age groups. We’ve actually saved the customer anywhere from $5 to $20 for each prescription on the list.”

The top five generics that customers are purchasing on the program are metformin, used to treat diabetes; hydrochlorothiazide, diuretic for cardiac patients; levothyroxine, for thyroid patients; lisinopril, to treat high blood pressure; and amoxicillin, an antibiotic.

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UCB files application with FDA for new pain reliever

BY Allison Cerra

BRUSSELS, Belgium Belgian pharmaceutical group UCB said on Thursday that it has filed a drug application with the Food and Drug Administration for its pain-relieving drug, according to Reuters.

Lacosamide, designed to treat epilepsy and pain associated with diabetic neuropaths, was filed to become an additional therapy in the treatment of partial onset seizures in adults with epilepsy and includes three formulations—tablets, syrup and intravenous injection, UCB said in a statement.

The drug’s proposed trade name is Vimpat.

UCB made a similar filing with the European Medicines Agency earlier this year, Reuters reported. The Belgian company already has blockbuster drug Keppra to treat epilepsy, although patent protection is set to expire in the United States by January 2009 and in Europe in May 2010.

Reuters also reported that the company’s other drug, with the proposed trade name Rikelta, is in Phase III trials to treat epilepsy and genetic epilepsy disorder Unverricht Lundborg Disease, while lacosamide is in Phase II trials for fibromyalgia, migraine prophylaxis and osteoarthritic pain.

UCB had also sought approval from the U.S. authorities for lacosamide to treat adults with diabetic neuropathic pain in tablet formation. The condition is often described as causing patients to feel a stabbing and burning sensation in the legs, feet or hands. Close to 7.7 million Americans suffer from the condition.

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