PHARMACY

Norditropin FlexPro receives FDA approval

BY Alaric DeArment

PRINCETON, N.J. The Food and Drug Administration has approved a Novo Nordisk treatment for growth hormone disorders, the Danish drug maker announced Wednesday.

The agency approved Norditropin FlexPro (somatropin [rDNA origin]), a pre-filled injection pen for children and adults with growth hormone disorders. The drug is expected to become available in the second quarter.

The company said the pen was user-friendly, requiring no loading of cartridges and including an audible click to signify when the medication has left the pen.

Pfizer also makes a somatropin injection pen under the Genotropin brand, and generic drug maker Sandoz makes a biosimilar called Omnitrope.

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FDA approves extended-release painkiller

BY Alaric DeArment

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. The Food and Drug Administration has approved a regulatory approval application for a pain drug made by CombinatoRx, the drug maker announced Tuesday.

The FDA approved Exalgo (hydromorphone hydrochloride) extended-release tablets, for the management of moderate to severe pain in patients who need continuous pain relief for long periods of time.

Covidien will pay CombinatoRx a $40 million milestone payment for the approval and is eligible to receive tiered royalties on sales of the drug.

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Surescripts: E-prescription use jumps 181%

BY Allison Cerra

ALEXANDRIA, Va. E-prescription adoption and use in the United States has skyrocketed over the past two years, according to a new report developed by an e-prescription network.

Surescripts, which announced the release of its 2009 national progress report on e-prescribing titled “Advancing Healthcare in America,” measures the growth of e-prescribing from 2007 through 2009 across a number of categories. Among the key findings: E-prescription use increased 181%, from 68 million in 2008 to 191 million e-prescriptions in 2009.

Additional findings included:

  • Prescription Benefit Information: The number of electronic requests for prescription benefit information more than tripled, from 79 million in 2008 to 303 million in 2009
  • Prescription History Information: The number of prescription histories delivered to prescribers grew more than five-fold, from 16 million in 2008 to 81 million in 2009
  • Prescribers: The number of prescribers routing prescriptions electronically grew from 74,000 at the end of 2008 to 156,000 by the end of2009 — representing 25 percent of all office-based prescribers
  • Pharmacies: At the end of 2009, approximately 85% of community pharmacies and six of the largest mail-order pharmacies in the United States were able to receive prescriptions electronically

Surescripts president and CEO Harry Totonis said the report emphasizes the benefits of e-prescribing.

“For e-prescription use to jump from 6% to 18% in one year indicates several things,” said Harry Totonis, president and CEO of Surescripts. “First, that the federal government’s leadership and incentive structures are working. Second, that the benefits of e-prescribing — including increased safety, lower costs and increased efficiency — are widely understood. And last, that the nation’s experience with e-prescribing — in building the network and the ecosystem to support it — provides a definitive road map for how to drive adoption of a broader electronic health record for all Americans.”

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