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Patients who stop taking insomnia drug continue having sleeping problems, Merck study finds

BY Alaric DeArment

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. — A study of an experimental drug for insomnia indicated that patients who stop taking it continue having sleeping problems, according to results of a clinical trial announced Monday.

Merck released data from a phase-3 trial of suvorexant in which patients who had been taking the drug daily for a year were switched to placebo for a two-month "discontinuation phase." Patients who were switched from the drug to placebo showed sleeping difficulties similar to those who had consistently taken placebo.

"The methods used in this study allowed us to understand what happens when patients who had been taking suvorexant every night for a year were immediately switched to placebo, because what happens when patients stop taking a sleep medication is a key concern for both patients and healthcare professionals," St. Luke’s Hospital Sleep Medicine and Research Center executive director and senior scientist James Walsh said. "We found that the patients who had been taking suvorexant for 12 months and were switched to placebo saw their insomnia return, but clinically meaningful withdrawal symptoms and rebound insomnia did not emerge."


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Amstel Light brings Amstel Wheat to retail

BY Allison Cerra

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — Amstel Light said its wheat beer now is available in bottles in select U.S. markets.

After launching in draught in seven markets in September 2011, fans of the beer now will be able to find Amstel Wheat on the shelves of their local retailers in the Northeast region, Chicago and Minneapolis, the company announced.

"After positive feedback from our fans who were able to experience Amstel Wheat in draught in the last year, Amstel decided to bring Amstel Wheat to bottles," said Yonathan Bendesky, brand manager at Amstel Light. "We were truly proud to produce this pure hefeweizen, one without additives or flavoring, which makes this beer style stand apart from its Belgian and American counterparts. This brew is approachable with high level of complexity with different fruit and floral notes from what’s out there now."

Amstel Wheat 12-oz. bottles will be available in six and 12-packs in select retail locations.

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CVS/pharmacy’s in-store fundraising campaign raises more than $5M for ALS, cystic fibrosis research

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis patients from Chagrin Falls, Ohio, and cystic fibrosis patients from Indianapolis took part in pre-game, on-field traditions at Fenway Park to celebration CVS/pharmacy’s Advancing Medical Research fundraising campaign, which raised more than $5 million in five weeks.

Heartened by the outcome of CVS/pharmacy’s Advancing Medical Research fundraising campaign, they celebrated the success of the campaign and demonstrated their commitment to finding a cure for ALS and for cystic fibrosis. The group was joined by leaders from the ALS Therapy Alliance and from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation — the two benefiting organizations of the funds raised.

To mark the success of the 2012 CVS/pharmacy Advancing Medical Research campaign, 9-year-old Lucas Fox of Indianapolis, who has cystic fibrosis, threw out the ceremonial first pitch at Fenway Park just prior to the Boston Red Sox versus Toronto Blue Jays game. He was joined on-field by his mother, Brenda Fox, who served as co-chair of this year’s campaign, and his 6-year-old sister Hannah Fox, who also has cystic fibrosis. In addition, the Fox family joined ALS patient and campaign co-chair Treg Charlton of Chagrin Falls, Ohio; CVS Caremark EVP and president of the company’s PBM business Jon Roberts, whose family has been impacted by ALS; Cystic Fibrosis Foundation-Milestones II Campaign chairman Joe O’Donnell; ALS Therapy Alliance president Robert Brown Jr.; and ALS Therapy Alliance director Robert Horvitz, in accepting the check of funds raised during an on-field presentation. Both Brenda Fox and Treg Charlton are CVS Caremark colleagues.

“Campaigns like this are deeply personal to us, driving us to achieve results that will truly make a difference and help people on their path to better health,” stated Roberts of CVS Caremark. “When our colleagues and customers get behind a campaign like Advancing Medical Research, which will support critical research to finding cures for ALS and cystic fibrosis, we think about the individuals and families who are suffering from these diseases and we become emotionally attached to the goals of the campaign. Getting to know people like Treg, Lucas, Hannah and their family members and understanding the significant challenges they face on a daily basis, push us to do more to help find cures for the debilitating diseases they face.”

CVS/pharmacy’s national in-store Advancing Medical Research campaign ran from late May through June. Supporters of the 2012 campaign had the option of donating at the register in CVS/pharmacy locations across the country or online. All funds raised have been earmarked for medical research to find cures for ALS and cystic fibrosis and to help improve the quality of life for those living with these debilitating and deadly diseases.

ALS is a life-altering diagnosis for patients and the family, friends and community surrounding them. The disease disrupts muscle function while leaving the brain intact, ultimately causing patients to become “trapped” in their own body. Life expectancy is just four to six years. There is no known cause or cure for ALS, which affects approximately 30,000 Americans, with 5,000 new cases diagnosed each year. To date, CVS/pharmacy has raised more than $27 million in support of ALS research. 

For 10 years, CVS/pharmacy’s in-store fundraising campaign focused on raising funds for ALS research, reaching a tally last year of more than $27 million donated to the ALS Therapy Alliance for medical research. CVS Caremark decided this year to expand its efforts and help children living with cystic fibrosis. As a result, the ALS Therapy Alliance and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation will each receive more than $2.5 million this year to use for medical research.

Cystic fibrosis is a fatal genetic disease that causes debilitating lung infections and premature death. It affects about 30,000 children and adults in the United States.  In January, a major advance in the fight against CF was realized when a new, breakthrough medication was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Called Kalydeco, it’s the first drug that targets the underlying cause of cystic fibrosis for a small segment of people with the disease. The Advancing Medical Research campaign will support research and development for drug therapies like Kalydeco to help more people living with cystic fibrosis. 


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