PHARMACY

Hanston named head of Novartis’ U.S. pharmaceutical business

BY Diana Alickaj

WASHINGTON Swiss drug maker, Novartis AG, announced Ludwig Hantson as the head of the U.S. pharmaceutical business for the company.

According to published reports, Hanston will be succeeding Alex Gorsky. Hanston previously was head of Novartis’ specialty division in the United States and earlier served as head of Novartis’s pharmaceutical business in Europe.

Hantson’s promotion follows a number of management changes at Novartis under Joseph Jimenez, the chief executive of Novartis’ pharmaceutical unit, who, according to published reports, has hired two executives to lead drug development.

 “Mr. Hantson’s experience dealing with frugal European health systems should help him cope with increasingly cost-conscious insurers and other payers in the U.S.” Jimenez said.

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Kaiser grows My Health Manager personal health records program

BY Drew Buono

Oakland, Calif. Kaiser Permanente, an integrated health plan has announced that is has more than two million members using its personal health record, My Health Manager

My Health Manager provides features including online appointment scheduling and prescription refills. In addition, users have 24/7 online access to lab test results, eligibility and benefits information, and even their children’s immunization records. With secure e-mail messaging, members can also communicate with their doctors at anytime from anywhere.

“My health manager is strengthening the doctor-patient relationship by allowing them to more frequently communicate with one another and do so through multiple channels,” said Anna-Lisa Silvestre, vice president for online services. “Despite the fact that it involves sitting behind a computer, consumers feel like their providers are more available to them than ever.”

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Authorities seize over $100,000 in unapproved drugs marketed as natural supplements

BY Drew Buono

Washington U.S. Marshals seized more than 14,000 dosage units of natural supplements, valued at more than $100,000, titled: Shangai Regular, Shangai Ultra, Super Shangai, Naturale Super Plus and Lady Shangai at the request of the Food and Drug Administration. The products were marketed as treatments for erectile dysfunction, impotency and/or sexual enhancement, which caused them to be drugs under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

The packages of these products did not list the drug ingredients on the label and when tested by the FDA, it was discovered that the ingredients were FDA-approved drugs for ED. The agency started looking into the supplements after receiving a consumer complaint.

The undeclared ingredients in these products may interact with nitrates found in some prescription drugs (such as nitroglycerin, according to the FDA, and can lower blood pressure to dangerous levels. Consumers with diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or heart disease often take nitrates. ED is a common problem in men with these medical conditions. Because they may have been advised against taking ED drugs, they may seek out products like these because they are marketed as “all natural” or as not containing the active ingredients in approved, prescribed ED drugs.

Despite being advised of the findings and the potential adverse health risk posed by the seized products and that regulatory action was possible, the company, Shangai Distributors, did not take any action to correct the violations, according to the FDA.

The FDA issued a press release on Dec. 28, 2007 advising consumers not to buy or use the products. Prior to the seizure, the Puerto Rico Department of Health embargoed the seized products to protect the citizens of Puerto Rico and to support the FDA’s enforcement actions.

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