PHARMACY

J&J to combine subsidiaries, cut 400 jobs

BY Drew Buono

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. Johnson & Johnson has announced that it will combine two of its subsidiaries, Ortho Biotech and Centocor, which will lead to about 400 jobs being cut, according to published reports.

The move is a response to the declining sales of a class of anemia drugs that includes J&J’s Procrit, a company spokesman said. Prescriptions for Procrit fell sharply last year after the Food and Drug Administration placed new safety warnings on the drugs.

“It is important that we take these significant and difficult steps in our business to free up resources that can be redeployed to opportunities that will make the greatest difference to patients and to our own future success as a business,” Kristine Peterson, J&J’s company group chair for biotechnology, immunology and oncology, said in an e-mail to workers.

Ortho Biotech will move its operations to Centocor’s headquarters in Pennsylvania.

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FDA approves first U.S. drug for IBS-C

BY Adam Kraemer

WASHINGTON Takeda and Sucampo Pharmaceuticals’ Amitiza, indicated for treatment of irritable bowel syndrome with constipation, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration for women over the age of 18, according to published reports.

IBS, an ailment characterized by cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, constipation and diarrhea, affects twice as many women as men, the FDA said. The reason for Amitiza’s approval for women only, however, was based on a lack of proof that the drug was effective for men.

“For some people IBS can be quite disabling, making it difficult for them to fully participate in everyday activities,” said Julie Beitz of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “This drug represents an important step in helping to provide medical relief from their symptoms.”

Amitiza (lubiprostone) is already approved for the treatment of chronic idiopathic constipation, though at a much higher dosage than for treatment of IBS-C.

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CDC says more than 25% of children not receiving recommended vaccinations

BY Drew Buono

WASHINGTON According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than a quarter of children in the U.S. are not meeting childhood vaccinations in accordance with government recommendation, according to Reuters. The study was of children between the ages of 18 months and 3-years-old.

The report went beyond studying if children were getting the recommended number of doses of various vaccines by, examining whether the children were getting them at the right time.

CDC researchers found that 28 percent did not meet vaccination recommendations. The results were based on a 2005 government survey involving 17,563 U.S. children in that age group.

Missed doses accounted for about two-thirds of those not in compliance. The rest of the children got them at the wrong age or too soon after a previous dose to be considered completely effective. Using the usual method of examining only whether children got the right number of doses, 81 percent of the children met government recommendations, according to the CDC.

The CDC recommends a number of vaccines to protect children against diseases like measles, polio, mumps, chicken pox and several others. Some require multiple doses.

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