PHARMACY

Consumers Union poll inspires legislators to call for hotline number in drug ads

BY Diana Alickaj

WASHINGTON The Food and Drug Administration is being approached to include a hotline number on their television advertisements for consumers who want to report undocumented side effects of prescription drugs, according to published reports.

Two members of Congress, Reps. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and Jan Schakowsky, D. Ill., have been rallying for the decision, based on a Consumer Reports poll, published by Consumer Union, a non-profit organization. According to published reports, the poll stated that 16 percent of consumers who had taken a prescription drug had experienced side effects that were serious enough to be sent to a hospital but only 35 percent knew that they were able to report these side effects to the FDA.

The FDA does place an emphasis on consumer reports on side effects and problems with drugs through their program known as MedWatch, but according to published reports, they learn about fewer than 1 in 10 reactions.

The poll also included that television would be the most efficient way to bring awareness to consumers about drugs and their side effects, citing data that claimed 98 percent of respondents most frequently saw prescription drug ads on TV as opposed to the 59 percent that said they had seen it in print.

As a result, Consumers Union has sent the FDA a petition with 55,000 signatures requesting that a toll-free number and Web site address be included in their television advertisements, to allow consumers to contact the FDA to report serious side effects. FDA spokeswomen Rita Chappelle stated that the petition is in the process of being reviewed, according to published reports.

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PHARMACY

Mylan twarted by court in Topamax case

BY Drew Buono

TITUSVILLE, N.J. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has upheld a ruling that prevents Mylan from marketing a generic version of Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical’s epilepsy drug Topamax, according to Reuters.

The decision was originally found in a District Court in New Jersey. Now, Mylan has to wait until the patent expires in September before launching a generic.

Topamax had sales in 2007 of over $1.8 billion.

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Independents, chains team up to spread the word about e-prescribing

BY Drew Buono

ALEXANDRIA, Va. On April 17, a new campaign will launch in thousands of pharmacies, aimed at informing patients about the benefits of e-prescribing and also encouraging them to tell their doctors about the technology.

Many independent pharmacies are joining the campaign, along with such big chains as CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Kerr and Wal-Mart, to promote the program through in-store signs and educational material. Signage that reads “e-prescriptions filled here” and “give your prescriptions a head start” will be found on pharmacy doors and at counters.

Patients interested in learning more about the program—such as which pharmacies or physicians in their area practice e-prescribing—will be directed to the campaign’s Web site, www.LearnAboutEprescriptions.com.

To prove the worth of e-prescribing, Walgreens and SureScripts, who is providing the network for the e-prescribing pharmacies, have released a survey showing the benefits of implementing e-prescribing in a pharmacy.

According to the findings of the Walgreens/SureScripts study, prescriptions filled at pharmacies increased by 11 percent once physicians began actively using e-prescribing and that the savings for pharmacy labor costs are $1.07 for every new prescription and $0.41 for every refill due to e-prescribing.

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