PHARMACY

FDA examines anemia drugs used to treat stroke victims

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON Use of anemia drugs from Amgen and Johnson & Johnson to treat stroke patients has come under scrutiny by the Food and Drug Administration following studies showing the experimental use leading to higher premature death rates, the FDA said Friday.

A German study designed to determine whether J&J’s drug Procrit (epoetin alfa) could improve cognitive function in stroke patients found that more patients taking the drug died prematurely than those taking a placebo. Amgen sells a version of the drug under the brand name Epogen.

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Ligand releases details of plan to purchase Pharmacopeia

BY Alaric DeArment

SAN DIEGO Ligand Pharmaceutical plans to buy New Jersey biotech Pharmacopeia for as much as $70 million, the San Diego drug maker has announced.

Ligand’s shareholders will get an 84 percent stake in the new company, while Pharmacopeia shareholders would get a little more than half a share in Ligand for every Pharmacopeia share they own. That makes the deal worth $1.81 per share.

The deal will probably close in the first three months of next year, depending on regulatory and shareholder approvals.

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Ontario pharmacies severely underpaid, new study of reimbursements reveals

BY Jim Frederick

TORONTO Retail pharmacies in Ontario are being paid far less for prescriptions dispensed under Canada’s healthcare system than what it costs them to provide those prescriptions to patients, a new study reveals.

In partnership with the Ontario Pharmacists’ Association, the Canadian Association of Chain Drug Stores announced the results of the province-wide study Wednesday at a meeting of the Economic Club of Toronto. Those results, based on an independent survey of 505 community pharmacies across Ontario, show a striking discrepancy between what pharmacies are paid for dispensing medications and what they can recoup for their services.

The independent study found the median cost to provide dispensing and related pharmacy services was $13.77 per prescription. The estimated average payment the provincial government provides to pharmacies for those services, however is far less: approximately $8.70 and declining, according to CACDS president and CEO Nadine Saby, who presented the findings.

“We need to work closely with government to find the innovative and alternative solutions that will ensure the sustainability of patient care and community pharmacy in Canada,” said Saby.

The study was conducted by MENTORx, a consulting firm that specializes in pharmacy-based research. Its aim: to assess the operating costs incurred by Ontario community pharmacies to dispense prescription drugs and deliver related pharmacy services to patients.

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