PHARMACY

Drug producers give to help disaster victims

BY Drew Buono

NEW YORK Drug makers all over the world are working with international relief groups to send cash and medical supplies to victims of the cyclone in Myanmar and the earthquake in China, according to the Associated Press.

Among the donations:

  • Merck is giving about $500,000 in cash for Chinese victims, including two-to-one matches of donations from U.S. employees, plus $500,000 worth of antibiotics, heart medicines and vaccines, including shots to prevent infectious diseases.
  • Pfizer has given about $700,000 in cash and another $700,000 worth of medical products to earthquake victims in China, and has employees volunteering with the Red Cross there. Employees have given another $128,000 for China, which Pfizer is matching.
  • Abbott Laboratories is giving $250,000 for aid in Myanmar and is sending about $250,000 worth of adult and pediatric antibiotics and vitamins there, some of which arrived late last week; in China, it’s giving $1 million, roughly half cash and half in antibiotics and adult and pediatric nutrition products.
  • Baxter International has given $150,000 to help victims in Myanmar and is preparing to supply hundreds of thousands of intravenous solutions to hard-hit areas there.
  • Johnson & Johnson has given cash donations, consumer health care products and medicines to the Red Cross Society of China and plans to give cash to groups working in Myanmar.
  • Bristol-Myers Squibb is donating at least $500,000, mostly for China, where it also is sending 10,000 one-week supplies of antibiotics, infant and child nutritional products, and employee donations of blankets, clothing and camping equipment.
  • GlaxoSmithKline has given about $1.4 million for China and $100,000 for Myanmar.
  • Roche has sent 53,000 doses of an antibiotic to the Sichuan province.
  • Wyeth has donated antibiotics, infant formula, Centrum vitamins and an undisclosed amount of cash to China.
  • Eli Lilly is sending $300,000 in cash and $800,000 worth of medicines, mainly antibiotics, most of it to groups operating in China. It may later send insulin and mental health medicines.

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GSK survey finds asthma sufferers lax in controlling condition

BY Drew Buono

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C., and TORONTO According to a new survey conducted by GlaxoSmithKline, nearly half of adult Americans and more than a quarter of children with asthma do not have their disease well controlled.

The Asthma USA survey examined over 81,500 households by using the Asthma Control Test, which assessed asthma control using a questionnaire. Of the more than 10,000 adults that took the ACT, 41 percent had a score of 19 or less, which indicates asthma that is not well controlled.

Children were given the Childhood Asthma Control Test and the ACT to determine their level of asthma control. According to the findings, of the 3,000 children that responded, 31 percent of the children between the ages of 4 and 11 and 25 percent of those between 12 and 17 did not have well-controlled asthma.

The survey also found that asthma that wasn’t well controlled had significant medical consequences. Adults with uncontrolled asthma were more likely to require treatment with oral corticosteroids, visit the emergency department or be admitted to the hospital than those whose asthma was well controlled. Children with uncontrolled asthma were also more likely to require urgent medical care.

“We have made quantum leaps in asthma treatment in the last decade, but the Asthma USA results demonstrate that enormous numbers of patients are living with asthma that is still not well controlled, putting them at significant health risk,” said David Stempel, director of clinical medicine for GlaxoSmithKline. “These findings remind us that improvements in care have not been uniform and underscore the critical need to improve education for both patients and healthcare providers in the management of asthma.”

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FDA warns against use of CellCept and Myfortic during pregnancy

BY Drew Buono

WASHINGTON The Food and Drug Administration has again warned that Roche’s CellCept and Novartis’ Myfortic which are prescribed to organ transplant patients can cause miscarriages and birth defects when used by pregnant women, according to published reports. The drugs are used to suppress the body’s immune system to avoid organ rejection in transplant patients

Last October the agency said it had received reports of miscarriages and infants born with ear and mouth birth defects after their mothers took CellCept. At the time, FDA added a black-box warning to CellCept and Myfortic.

The FDA said most of the reported problems came from mothers who were taking CellCept before their pregnancies were detected. Some of the patients were taking the drug for conditions it was not approved to treat including rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

A spokesman for Roche said it has not received any new reports of miscarriages or birth defects since updating the drug’s labeling. The company previously reported 25 miscarriages among 77 women exposed to the drug between 1995 and 2007.

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