PHARMACY

NACDS applauds FDA decision on side-effects rule

BY Jim Frederick

ALEXANDRIA, Va. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores is hailing a decision by the Food and Drug Administration to give pharmacies some breathing room in their efforts to comply with a new patient-information mandate.

In an interim final rule published last week, the FDA is giving pharmacies until Jan. 1, 2009 to comply with a requirement to provide patients with an FDA-maintained toll-free number to report drug side effects. Beginning on that date, pharmacy operators must also provide patients with a statement to contact their doctors for medical advice about side effects.

The newly published rules also give pharmacies some flexibility as to how they distribute the side-effects statement to patients.

The FDA’s change of course perhaps reflects an improved climate for more effective dialogue between the chain pharmacy organization and federal health agencies. “NACDS worked closely with FDA on the impact of this rule, and we are very appreciative of the agency’s sensitivity to pharmacies in complying with a measure that would impact the millions of prescriptions they fill each year for their patients,” said association president and chief executive officer Steven Anderson. “We look forward to continuing to work with the FDA over the next year to help chain pharmacies meet the requirements by next January.

“We also emphasize the need to raise awareness among patients that the toll-free number is for the sole purpose of reporting side effects, and that it provides no mechanism for patients to obtain medical advice,” Anderson added.

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Pfizer eyes other large pharmaceutical companies for acquisitions

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK Pfizer’s CEO said his company wants to expand its portfolio of acquired companies, and no company is too big, according to published reports.

Jeff Kindler told the Financial Times that the drug maker would consider purchasing a large stake in a major pharmaceutical company to increase its revenues. Some have speculated that this could mean a purchase of Amgen or Gilead Sciences or a merger with a larger company such as Bristol-Myers Squibb or Wyeth.

The company’s profits are in danger of falling in 2011, when the blockbuster anti-cholesterol drug Lipitor (atorvastatin calcium) becomes open to generic competition. The drug has annual sales of about $13 billion.

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Escalon acquires Immunodiagnostic Systems Holdings’ hematology division

BY Alaric DeArment

PHILADELPHIA A Philadelphia-area company that makes medical and diagnostic equipment has acquired a British in vitro diagnostics company’s hematology division.

Escalon Medical Corp., based in Wayne, Pa., acquired Immunodiagnostic Systems Holdings’ hematology for $5.9 million Friday, according to published reports.

Neither company had posted a statement about the deal for the press on its Web site Monday.

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