PHARMACY

FDA approves expanded use for Abilify

BY Drew Buono

NEW YORK The Food and Drug Administration has expanded the use of the Bristol-Myers Squibb and Otsuka Pharmaceuticals drug Abilify.

The drug is now approved to aid with the treatment of bipolar disorder. The companies said the FDA approved the drug as a secondary therapy alongside lithium and valproate for treating bipolar episodes in adults.

In 2007, Abilify had sales of over $1.78 billion, according to the FDA.

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Anthem BC/BS allows doctors to access EMRs via cell phone

BY Drew Buono

MANCHESTER, N.H. Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in New Hampshire has unveiled new technology that will enable physicians to have secure access to online patient medical records and claims information from their mobile phones.

“Now all licensed New Hampshire practitioners who are part of our e-prescribing program are also able to access both medical records and claims data on Anthem members, anytime, anywhere by using their web-enabled cell phone,” said Richard Lafleur, medical director, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in New Hampshire, who added that participants could also access the new program from their office or home computer.

The addition of the new technology, known as Member Medical History, further enhances the e-prescribing tool by delivering an unprecedented amount of clinical information to the physician wherever he or she may be. Now the doctor looking to generate an electronic prescription is able to quickly access their Anthem patient’s medical history, getting valuable information on medical conditions and the patient’s most recent care, test results, or diagnoses by other clinicians.

“Putting even more comprehensive information in the physician’s hands at the time care decisions are being made improves quality and efficiency,” said Charles Kennedy, vice president of health information technology for Anthem. “E-prescribing and MMH are good examples of how Anthem can use technology to create a community benefit for all patients while still delivering unique value for our members.”

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Study shows metformin as effective as insulin injections during pregnancy

BY Drew Buono

BOSTON According to a new study, metformin, the generic version of Bristol-Myers Squibb’s diabetes drug Glucophage, is just as effective as insulin injections in treating women who develop diabetes during pregnancy, researchers in New Zealand and Australia reported yesterday.

Gestational diabetes appears in 1-in-20 pregnant women, and there has been concern that metformin might affect a fetus because the drug can cross the placenta.

But the study, led by Janet Rowan of the Auckland City Hospital in New Zealand, found that the risk of complications such as respiratory distress, birth trauma and newborn hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, was no different for the 363 women who received metformin and the 370 given conventional insulin shots.

After delivery, nearly 77 percent of the metformin recipients said they would want to stay with the pill if they developed diabetes during pregnancy again, even though 46 percent still needed supplemental insulin injections at some point. On the other hand, only 27 percent of those who got insulin shots felt the same way.

But doctors may still be cautious, the researchers said. “Clinicians may remain circumspect about using metformin until follow-up data for offspring are available,” they wrote. The children born during the study are being tested when they reach their second birthday.

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