PHARMACY

Congressmen call on pharmaceutical companies to disclose grant information

BY Drew Buono

WASHINGTON Members of Congress are trying to get legislation passed that would require pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers to publicly disclose grants given to outside groups, according to the Associated Press.

For Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, the figure that he wants companies to disclose the most is the amount they spent on continuing medical education. Physicians attend such conferences to fulfill their license requirements and to keep up-to-date with the latest treatment trends. Professional associations and companies frequently ask drug and device makers to help pay for the conferences. Recently, Grassley asked 15 companies whether they planned to follow the lead of Eli Lilly which now discloses its grants to such programs.

The responses were generally positive. Medtronic and AstraZeneca, for example, both said they would post payments for professional meetings and patient groups on their Web sites before the end of the summer. The one company that flat-out refused to engage in such disclosure of information was Schering-Plough, which stated: “We do not publish or have plans at the moment to publish a list of charitable contributions or educational grants that medical organizations have received from us.”

Grassley and Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., have introduced legislation that would require drug and device makers to disclose anything of value given to physicians, such as payments, gifts or travel.

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PHARMACY

FDA announces safety review of two immunosuppressive drugs

BY Drew Buono

WASHINGTON The Food and Drug Administration issued an early communication today stating that an ongoing safety review is taking place about the immunosuppressive medications CellCept by Roche and Myfortic by Novartis.

The drugs have been linked in safety data provided by Roche to progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, a sometimes fatal disorder that affects the central nervous system.

Roche has recommended including this information in the CellCept label. The active ingredient in CellCept, mycophenolate mofetil, is metabolized by the body to MPA (mycophenolic acid), the active drug ingredient in Myfortic.

The FDA anticipates taking two months to complete its review of the safety data and the proposed revised labeling for CellCept and Myfortic that includes information about PML.

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MyInsuranceExpert.com launches in nine states

BY Drew Buono

BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. A new Web site called MyInsuranceExpert.com helps individuals and families research and purchase insurance policies, according to published reports.

MyInsuranceExpert.com is available in Michigan and eight other states and hopes to expand to 40 states by the end of 2009. So far, he said the site’s biggest business comes from states like Texas and Florida, where there are fewer companies offering insurance to employees.

People go to the site to receive online quotes and ultimately purchase their insurance policy. But the site also has personal, licensed advisers who work with each client to ensure they have the most cost-effective policy possible.

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