PHARMACY

House passes online pharmacy bill to halt illegal sale of pharmaceuticals

BY Jim Frederick

WASHINGTON, D.C. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores is hailing passage by the House of Representatives of legislation to clamp down on illegal online pharmacies.

On Tuesday, the House passed the Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act of 2008, also known as H.R. 6353. The bill, introduced in the House in June by Michigan Democrat Bart Stupak, would require a valid prescription for the purchase or distribution of any prescription drug over the Internet, issued by a prescribing physician or other qualified professional who has personally examined the patient. It would exempt remote-site pharmacies that operate under approved “telemedicine” procedures.

The bill now moves to the Senate, where passage could be accomplished in short order, since the Senate passed a version of the same bill in April.

“NACDS applauds the House for passing this bill, and we look forward to its quick passage in the Senate,” said NACDS president and CEO Steven Anderson today. A growing number of websites, he added, “masquerade as legitimate pharmacies, luring consumers into schemes to obtain medications without a prescription or a valid patient-prescriber relationship. These ‘rogue’ Web sites threaten the health and safety of consumers.

“H.R. 6353 would establish effective policies to curb these websites and to prevent them from selling controlled substances,” Anderson added. At the same time, he said, the bill “recognizes … legitimate operations and would not interfere with the important services and products that our members offer online.”

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Bristol-Myers Squib ups off for ImClone buyout

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK Bristol-Myers Squibb announced Monday that it would increase its offer for ImClone after the biotech rejected a previous offer as too low.

Bristol had previously offered $60 a share for the company, but has increased its offer to $62 a share, or $4.7 billion.  That’s still far below the $70 a share that ImClone chairman Carl Icahn has said an unnamed pharmaceutical company has offered.

ImClone and Bristol jointly market the cancer drug Erbitux (cetuximab), and Bristol owns 16.6 percent of ImClone’s stock.

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Roche assures flu vaccines will be in stock for season

BY Alaric DeArment

NUTLEY, N.J. Ample supplies of the flu drug Tamiflu will be available throughout the country during the flu season, manufacturer Roche said Tuesday.

The vaccine, known generically as oseltamivir phosphate, is approved for treating and preventing influenza in adults and children aged 1 and older.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers it an important second line of defense against the flu.

“We understand that pharmacists do their best to stock appropriate amounts of antiviral medications, such as Tamiflu, for use during the flu season,” Roche medical director Dominick Iacuzio said. “However, the incidence and severity of seasonal flu remains unpredictable from year to year, and some pharmacies may still be faced with greater-than-expected demand during the season.”

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