PHARMACY

Genentech’s Rituxan may help in fighting MS

BY Drew Buono

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. According to a new study published in the Feb. 14 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, the rheumatoid arthritis and lupus drug Rituxan has been found to fight a common form of multiple sclerosis.

MS is an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system. Instead of targeting foreign invaders, such as bacteria, the body mistakenly attacks the protective covering of nerve cells called myelin.

Most research for MS has focused on the T-cell side of the immune system, but other studies began to suggest that maybe T-cells weren’t the major players in MS after all, and that perhaps B-cells might play a role. Rituxan, a Genentech drug, targets and depletes a type of B-cell known as CD20+.

The study, authored by Stephen Hauser, chairman of the department of neurology at the University of California, San Francisco, included 104 people with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. Someone with this type of MS will have disease flare-ups but will also have periods of remission when they don’t have symptoms. The patients were randomly assigned to receive either 1,000 mgs of IV Rituxan or a placebo.

The rate of relapse was significantly reduced for those on Rituxan. At the end of the 48-week study period, 20.3 percent of those on Rituxan had experienced a relapse versus 40 percent of those on placebo.

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IVoice announces patent on new product for easy medicine consumption

BY Diana Alickaj

MATAWAN, N.J. iVoice has created a new product that will organize the way that patients consume pills. According to published reports, the invention is a medicine container that has speaking instructions.

iVoice has filed a patent application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office under the title, “Methodology for Wirelessly Loading Speaking Medicine Containers, with an internal clock.”

The new iVoice product contains an internal clock, which starts when a patient activates the audio playback that, with recurring use, creates a message that displays how many pills the patient should have left, and if that “predetermined amount” is not in the container, a warning is displayed for the patient to contact a doctor or pharmacist. Other features include a medicine container starting table count, required consumption data and self-programming.

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FTC files complaint over Cephalon’s attempt at protection of Provigil market

BY Diana Alickaj

WASHINGTON Cephalon is facing a lawsuit filed by antitrust enforcers regarding its Narcolepsy medicine, Provigil.

Provigil is Cephalon’s best-selling drug, and according to the Wall Street Journal, the civil complaint filed by the Federal Trade Commission stated that Cephalon was illegally delaying the sale of the drug by four rivals that were slated to produce and market the generic version of the drug. The sales of Provigil are a recorded $800 million per year.

According to the Wall Street Journal report, companies including Teva Pharmaceuticals, Ranbaxy Pharmaceuticals, Barr Pharmaceuticals, and Mylan Pharmaceuticals, were given a combined $200 million to push off the genetic version of their drug from market entry until 2012.

Cephalon denies any wrongdoing. “The transactions we reached met the letter and spirit of the law in every way,” Frank Baldino, Cephalon’s chief executive, said, “and we will litigate this matter, and we will prevail.”

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