PHARMACY

CDC warns of limited supply of rabies vaccine

BY Alaric DeArment

ATLANTA The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday that supplies of rabies vaccine in the United States are limited.

The vaccine is being saved for people who have been bitten, as opposed to those who take it to prevent rabies infection before traveling to areas where there is a risk of contracting the disease.

Though the limited supplies don’t constitute a shortage, the CDC has plans to prepare for a shortage. The limit also does not affect vaccines for animals.

The shortfall stems from a stockpiling of the vaccine by Sanofi Pasteur before it started renovating the factory where it makes the vaccine, Imovax, in France. It saved enough of the vaccine to meet the expected demand for the period between the start of the renovations in June 2007 through 2009. However, demand for the vaccine increased unexpectedly when cases of rabies among wild animals increased. At the same time, manufacturing problems arose with Novartis’ RabAvert vaccine. Each company had supplied around half of the rabies vaccine for the United States.

Consequently, the CDC has temporarily stopped recommending preventive rabies vaccinations. In the meantime, the CDC recommends vaccinating pets and taking other precautions to prevent the spread of rabies.

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Study: pharmacist monitoring can help hypertension

BY Alaric DeArment

SEATTLE An experiment by the Seattle-based Group Health Cooperative has found that Web-based monitoring by pharmacists can help control hypertension.

It found that 56 percent of patients assigned home blood pressure monitoring, Web site training and Web-based pharmacist care experienced increases in control of blood pressure. Those who received the blood pressure monitoring and Web site training only did not experience a significant increase.

The study involved 778 patients ages 25 to 75 in three groups with uncontrolled essential hypertension and Internet access between June 2005 and December 2007.

Results of the study appeared in Wednesday’s issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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Genzyme, Isis complete license agreement for cholesterol drug

BY Alaric DeArment

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. Genzyme and Isis Pharmaceuticals announced Tuesday that they had finished a license and collaboration agreement for mipomersen, a drug candidate designed for patients with high cholesterol.

Under the agreement, Genzyme will pay Isis $175 million in licensing fees. Isis will contribute up to $175 million for development. After that, the two companies will share development costs. Isis may also receive up to $1.5 billion in commercial, development and regulatory milestone payments. Genzyme will have preferred access to future drugs that Isis develops for rare diseases and diseases affecting the central nervous system.

The companies will share profits for the drug, with Genzyme receiving 70 percent and Isis receiving 30 percent. They will split profits equally once revenues on mipomersen reach $2 billion. Genzyme will also be responsible for funding sales and marketing until revenues can cover them.

“Mipomersen is an innovative treatment that has the potential to change the standard of care for severely ill patients whose needs cannot be addressed by current cholesterol-lowering therapies,” said Henri A. Termeer, Genzyme’s chairman and chief executive officer.

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