PHARMACY

Medco report shows large increase of children on adult medications

BY Drew Buono

FRANKLIN LAKES, N.J. Medco Health Solutions has released a new report showing that the number of children taking adult-type medications to treat such diseases as type 2 diabetes, sleeping problems and gastrointestinal disorders has more than doubled in a seven-year span. Based on this data, there are now approximately 1.2 million children in the U.S. taking these traditionally adult medications.

According to the research, use of type 2 diabetes medications saw the greatest increase, rising more than 150 percent from 2001 to 2007; girls led the way with a threefold increase. The prevalence of children on proton pump inhibitors, medications used to treat heartburn and gastrointestinal reflux disease, rose 137 percent in the same time frame. Prescription sleep aid use showed the slowest growth over the seven-year period, up 34 percent among all children; but was almost twice as high (62 percent) for children ages 10-19.

The analysis, which reviewed prescription claims of about 600,000 insured children ages 19 and under, also revealed that heart disease-related conditions are creeping into childhood. While the prevalence rate is still quite small, the use of medications to treat high cholesterol and high blood pressure in children is on the rise.

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PHARMACY

Chinese companies set to enter generic market

BY Drew Buono

LONDON Chinese drug manufacturing companies are now looking to get into manufacturing generic drugs, according to Reuters. The country is already the world’s biggest producer of active pharmaceutical ingredients and is now aiming at producing finished drug products for sale in the U.S., Europe and other key markets.

IMS Health said last year’s first approval from the Food and Drug Administration for a Chinese generic—a copy of AIDS drug nevirapine—was a sign of things to come. Now, at least 10 other Chinese companies are set to follow suit with other generic products, according to IMS.

The result will be increased competition in a generic drugs industry that is already struggling with tumbling prices. The rise of Chinese generic drugmakers is expected to mirror that of Indian firms like Ranbaxy Laboratories, which also started out as an API supplier but moved into finished generic medicines a decade ago.

The problem, though, according to IMS, is safety issues involving the drugs. The most noticeable problem, the tainted blood thinner heparin that was produced in China and then created a health scare across the globe.

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Pfizer supports transparency initiative by listing Q1 grants

BY Drew Buono

NEW YORK Following in line of such other pharmaceutical companies as Eli Lilly, Pfizer has begun listing its U.S. medical, scientific and patient organization grants and charitable contributions made in the first quarter of 2008, as part of a mission to increase company transparency.

Of a total $9.97 million in grants and charitable contributions reported for the first quarter of 2008, the largest grant, $3,420,318, was made to the California Academy of Family Physicians in March for a three-year national health care professional education campaign to reduce the number of U.S. smokers. This grant was distributed among nine partner organizations across the country.

Other grants include $500,000 to Family Health International for malaria patient education and treatment, and $237,500 to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for its clinical investigator training program with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

“We want to bring greater transparency to the way we partner with leading medical, scientific and patient organizations,” said Jeffrey Kindler, chairman and chief executive officer of Pfizer. “Detailing these grants and charitable contributions is an important part of our ongoing transparency drive.”

The company plans on updating its information each quarter.

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