PHARMACY

Heart drugs ‘have longer effect’

BY Allison Cerra

GLASGOW, Scotland A study conducted by the University of Glasgow found that certain cholesterol-lowering drugs provide protection against heart disease years after patients stop taking them.

Statins, the university research concluded, can reduce the risk of heart attacks in male patients by 25 percent. Additionally, people taking the drugs for five years were still experiencing the benefits 10 years after they stopped taking them, with a reduced risk of heart disease.

“We were very surprised to find patients who had been treated for five years with a statin continued to have significantly fewer heart attacks and other coronary events compared to those treated with a placebo treatment,” said Stuart Cobbe, professor and leading cardiologist on the study.

The university study is one of several that have been done in the UK over the past decade. The West of Scotland Coronary Prevention study has been done over the past 15 years, and involved 6,595 men from the region, with an average age of 55, who had high cholesterol. After being recruited between 1989 and 1991, the subjects were divided in half, one group given a placebo and the other half given pravastatin. Their health was followed for five years, until 1995, with the results showing that the statin users had a lower risk of strokes and heart disease.

The latest research, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, examined the group 10 and 15 years later. The newer study discovered that there was a “significant” reduction in coronary problems for people who had taken statins for five years.

An estimated three million people in the UK take statins for heart-related issues.

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Synta and GSK enter into $1.1 billion deal

BY Drew Buono

LONDON and LEXINGTON, Mass. Synta Pharmaceuticals and GlaxoSmithKline have agreed on a collaboration for the joint development and commercialization of STA-4783, a new drug entering phase-three clinical development for the treatment of metastatic melanoma.

Under the terms of the agreement, the companies will share responsibility for the development and commercialization of the drug in the United States, with GlaxoSmithKline having exclusive rights outside of the United States.  Synta can earn up to $1.1 billion as a result of this agreement in development, upfront payments, stock purchases and milestone payments.

“This agreement confirms GSK’s growing status as a world leader in the development of new oncology medicines for use in the treatment, prevention and supportive care of cancer patients.  It further strengthens our late stage oncology pipeline, which currently includes ten phase-three programs, and also demonstrates our commitment to identifying compounds that have the potential to deliver real benefit to patients,” said Moncef Slaoui, chairman of research and development at GSK.  “The data we have seen from the phase-two trials conducted by Synta have given us confidence in the potential of STA-4783 as a novel means of treating metastatic melanoma, a disease for which there is high unmet medical need.”

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CMS updates Medicare Part D Web site

BY Drew Buono

WASHINGTON The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has updated its Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Finder, so that senior citizens and other beneficiaries can begin to review 2008 Part D drug plans.

The finder offers beneficiaries a chance to compare drug plans and health plans, view premiums, formularies and availability of coverage in the gap.  CMS wanted to make the finder as easy as possible to use and provide as much information as possible so that beneficiaries are ready before the open enrollment begins on Nov. 15.

The finder is at www.medicare.gov.

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