PHARMACY

HHS secretary calls for e-prescribing mandate

BY Drew Buono

ORLANDO, Fla. At the recent Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, Health and Human Services secretary Michael Leavitt called for mandated electronic prescribing for Medicare patients. He also hinted at mandated use of electronic health records under Medicare as well, according to published reports.

“The time has come to make the change to e-prescribing,” Leavitt said in his keynote address. “We can no longer afford to pay reimbursements for people to prescribe in the most expensive way.” In regards to electronic health records, Leavitt said, “The day is not long off until we do the same for electronic health records.”

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is in the process of conducting a program under which up to 1,200 small and medium-sized primary care practices would receive Medicare incentive payments for adopting electronic health records. This is in an effort to fix the Medicare reimbursement system, which Leavitt believes needs to be reformed, “We over-subsidize many of the wrong things and under-support many of the right things.”

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PHARMACY

Combo vaccine for kids linked to fever and seizures

BY Adam Kraemer

ATLANTA A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has shown that children suffered higher rates of fever-related convulsions when they got a Merck combination vaccine instead of two separate shots, according to published reports.

Prior to the findings, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices had stated a distinct preference for the ProQuad vaccine, which protects against measles, mumps and rubella as well as chickenpox. The committee’s argument was that it would be better to give children the fewest injections possible.

Now, however, the committee has withdrawn its preference for ProQuad, choosing not to exhibit any preference at all. “Safety, shortages, delivery issues—lots of reasons not to state such a strong preference,” said a committee member. ProQuad costs $124 per dose, about the same as the two other shots combined.

In the study of children ages 12 months through 23 months, the rate of seizures was twice as high in toddlers who got ProQuad, compared with those who got one shot for chickenpox and one for the three other diseases. Neither the convulsions, nor the fevers that engendered them resulted in any child deaths. Merck has conducted its own study with similar results: 1 occurrence in approximately 2,000 children.

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Procter & Gamble wins patent suit for Actonel

BY Adam Kraemer

CINCINNATI The United States District Court of Delaware today ruled in favor of the Procter & Gamble Company in the patent infringement lawsuit filed by P&G against Teva Pharmaceuticals. The positive ruling protects P&G’s rights in the U.S. to exclusively market the osteoporosis therapy Actonel (risedronate sodium tablets).

P&G filed a patent infringement lawsuit in August against Teva to enforce P&G’s U.S. composition of matter patent for risedronate, the active ingredient in Actonel. Teva was seeking to market a generic version of Actonel in the United States under the assertion that the Actonel patent was not valid due to obviousness of the invention.

The court ruled today in favor of the patent. “We are pleased that the Court recognized and acknowledged the uniqueness of the risedronate molecule,” said Tom Finn, P&G president of global health care. “We are very proud of the extensive R&D efforts which brought Actonel to market, providing patients help that they need to manage their osteoporosis and prevent fractures.”

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