PHARMACY

FDA on pace to approve 18 drugs in 2008

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON The year 2008 will see the Food and Drug Administration approve 18 new drugs, according to reports.

The drugs will include Wyeth’s antidepressant Pristiq, Cephalon’s leukemia drug Treanda and UCB’s drug for Crohn’s disease, Cimzia, which have already been approved.

Last year, the agency approved 18 new molecular entities, drugs in which the active ingredient had not been used previously in an FDA-approved drug, compared to 22 in 2006.

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Novartis starts shipping flu vaccine to U.S.

BY Drew Buono

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. Novartis has begun shipping its Fluvirin Influenza Virus Vaccine to the United States. This comes just days after the Food and Drug Administration, with the recommendation of the World Health Organization, approved three new strains that would be included in the influenza vaccine composition for the 2008-2009 influenza season.

The company is producing up to 40 million doses of the vaccine, with expectations of at least 20 million doses being delivered by the end of September with the remainder to be shipped by Halloween.

“As one of the largest US suppliers of influenza vaccine, providing large quantities of Fluvirin early in the season supports public health efforts to vaccinate as many people as early as possible this upcoming influenza season,” said Joerg Reinhardt, chief executive officer of Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics.

Fluvirin is available for ordering for the US 2008-2009 influenza season via the company’s influenza vaccine online ordering portal, www.NovartisVaccinesDirect.com.

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Report shows more than 1,400 errors due to similar-sounding drug names

BY Drew Buono

ROCKVILLE, Md. The eighth annual national MEDMARX Data Report was released this week by U.S. Pharmacopeia and it revealed that more than 1,400 commonly used drugs are involved in errors linked to drug names that look or sound alike.

For the report, USP reviewed more than 26,000 records submitted to the MEDMARX database from 2003 to 2006. These records revealed that 1,470 different drugs are implicated in medication errors due to brand and/or generic names that looked or sounded alike.

In response to the findings, USP is calling on prescribers and pharmacists to include an “indication for use” on prescriptions. Indication for use is a phrase that signals why the patient is taking the drug (e.g. cough, infection, rash). To prevent medication errors, USP recommends that this powerful piece of information be conveyed at several points along the health care system.

“Errors resulting from look-alike/sound-alike drugs are a problem that spans the entire health care system,” said Darrell Abernethy, chief science officer at USP. “By recording and communicating not only the name of the drug, but also what it is being used for, prescribers, pharmacists and consumers can work together to dramatically reduce these types of medication errors.”

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