PHARMACY

CDC: Half of all states have smoke-free worksites, restaurants and bars

BY Michael Johnsen

ATLANTA — By 2020 or sooner, the entire nation could have laws banning smoking in all indoor areas of private sector worksites, restaurants and bars, a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released Thursday has found.

The projection is based on the rate at which states have been adopting comprehensive smoke-free laws. In just the past 10 years, 25 states and the District of Columbia have enacted these laws, the CDC reported.

The study, published in this week’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, listed the smoke-free status of every state and the District of Columbia. In addition to listing the states with comprehensive smoke-free laws and years they went into effect, the report also listed the 10 states that have laws prohibiting smoking in one or two — but not all three — of the venues included in the study.

It also identified eight states that have less restrictive laws, such as those allowing smoking in designated areas or areas with separate ventilation. And the study detailed the seven states that have no statewide smoking restrictions in place for private worksites, restaurants or bars: Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia and Wyoming.

"Eliminating smoking from worksites, restaurants and bars is a low-cost, high-impact strategy that will protect nonsmokers and allow them to live healthier, longer, more productive lives while lowering healthcare costs associated with secondhand smoke," CDC director Thomas Frieden said. "While there has been a lot of progress over the past decade, far too many Americans continue to be exposed to secondhand smoke at their workplaces, increasing their risk of cancer and heart attacks."

For a list of states and the types of smoke-free laws in each, view the full report at CDC.gov/mmwr.

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Study: Pirfenidone could improve kidney function among diabetic nephropathy patients

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK — An investigational antifibrotic and anti-inflammatory drug could help treat a common complication of diabetes.

Researchers at the University of California-San Diego School of Medicine, the National Institutes of Health and the Mayo Clinic found that pirfenidone potentially could treat diabetic nephropathy, a leading cause of end-stage kidney disease.

The researchers conducted a randomized, double-blind study of 77 patients with diabetic nephropathy at Thomas Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia, the Mayo Clinic in Rochester and the NIH. The study comprised three groups: one group that received a high dose of pirfenidone (2,400 mg), one group that received a low dose of pirfenidone (1,200 mg) and one control group.

After analyzing the rate of decline in kidney function in the three groups — which was measured by the estimated glomerular filtration rate — the study authors found a significant improvement in the low-dose group over the course of the one-year study. Additionally, no seeming benefit was noted in those patients who received the high dose, suggesting that higher doses may not be tolerable in the diabetic population with moderate to advanced chronic kidney disease.

"The dramatic finding of this exploratory study is that an appropriate dose of pirfenidone not only halted decline but [also] actually improved kidney function in these patients," said Kumar Sharma, professor of medicine in the UCSD division of nephrology and director of the Center for Renal Translational Medicine, who headed the study.

The study was published in the April 21 issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

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Valeant issues letter to Cephalon stockholders

BY Alaric DeArment

MISSISSAUGA, Ontario — Valeant Pharmaceuticals International is taking its case directly to Cephalon’s shareholders in its effort to acquire the Frazer, Pa.-based drug maker.

In a letter to the shareholders Thursday, Valeant said its $73-per-share offer, totaling $5.7 billion, was a 29% premium over the 30-day stock price of Cephalon, noting that the price had declined over the last five years and that the average stock price in the month before the offer was $57, which Wall Street analysts didn’t expect to rise above $60.

Valeant also said that Cephalon had not brought a major, novel product to market since 1998 and that Wall Street analysts had predicted the company would face tough times in the future.

Further, Valeant criticized Cephalon’s board, saying it was refusing to let shareholders choose and that impediments that prevented the consummation of Valeant’s offer had been put in place.

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