HEALTH

Pfizer acquires low-dose aspirin brand in Poland

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK — Pfizer on Monday announced that a wholly-owned Polish subsidiary of Pfizer has acquired the rights to Polocard, a low-dose aspirin (acidum acetylsalicylicum), and the leading over-the-counter brand for heart attack prevention in Poland, from ZF Polpharma SA.

"Polocard is a top OTC brand in Poland, and its acquisition will enhance our Consumer Healthcare portfolio and overall position in this key market," said Paul Sturman, president, Pfizer Consumer Healthcare. "We continue to focus on strategic opportunities that will expand our portfolio of leading brands, develop capabilities in high-growth categories and extend our global reach."

The acquisition of Polocard marks the latest of several investments by Pfizer in its Consumer Healthcare business over the last 24 months. Other notable transactions include the exclusive global license agreement with AstraZeneca for the OTC rights for Nexium (esomeprazole magnesium) and the acquisitions of Alacer, maker and distributor of Emergen-C products, one of the largest-selling branded Vitamin C lines in the United States, and Ferrosan’s Consumer Healthcare business, which broadened the unit’s dietary supplements portfolio as well as its geographic footprint in the Nordics, Russia and Central and Eastern Europe.

The financial terms of the Polocard deal were not disclosed.

 

 

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Study: Antivirals like Tamiflu, Relenza reduce deaths among children critically ill with the flu

BY Michael Johnsen

ELK GROVE VILLAGE, Ill. — Treatment of influenza with such antiviral medicines as Tamiflu and Relenza may improve survival rates in children, according to a study published on Nov. 25 in Pediatrics

Researchers from the California Department of Public Health analyzed data abstracted from medical records to characterize the outcomes of pediatric patients hospitalized with the flu between April 3, 2009 and September 30, 2012. 

Researchers reviewed the case of 784 children hospitalized by the flu. They found that cases of patients who had antiviral treatment initiated earlier in their illness were less likely to die. 

"Prompt treatment with [antivirals] may improve survival of children critically ill with influenza," the researchers concluded. "Recent decreased frequency of [antiviral] treatment of influenza may be placing untreated critically ill children at an increased risk of death."

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Researchers correlate increased heart risk to high-sodium medicines

BY Michael Johnsen

LONDON — Researchers at the University of Dundee and University College London on Wednesday found that taking the maximum daily dose of some medicines would exceed the recommended daily limits for sodium, without any additional dietary intake and potentially become an added risk factor for heart disease.

They say the public "should be warned about the potential dangers of high sodium intake from prescribed medicines" and that sodium-containing formulations "should be prescribed with caution only if the perceived benefits outweigh the risks."

According to the researchers, many commonly prescribed medicines have sodium added to improve their absorption into the body.

They also call for the sodium content of medicines to be clearly labelled in the same way as foods are labelled.

Overall, the researchers found that patients taking the sodium-containing effervescent, dispersible and soluble medications had a 16% increased risk of a heart attack, stroke or vascular death compared with other patients taking the non-sodium versions of those exact medications, the researchers noted. Patients taking the sodium-containing drugs also were seven times more likely to develop high blood pressure, and overall death rates also were 28% higher in this group. 

The team, led by Jacob George, senior clinical lecturer and honorary consultant in clinical pharmacology at the University of Dundee, compared the risk of cardiovascular events (non-fatal heart attack, non-fatal stoke, or vascular death) in patients taking sodium-containing effervescent, dispersible and soluble medications with those taking non-sodium versions of the same drugs between 1987 and 2010.

More than 1.2 million U.K. patients were tracked for an average of just over seven years. During this time, more than 61,000 incident cardiovascular events occurred.

Factors likely to affect the results — such as body mass index, smoking, alcohol intake, history of various chronic illnesses and use of certain other medications —were taken into account, the researchers reported. 

The authors acknowledged that there is still some controversy regarding the relation between dietary sodium and cardiovascular events, but say their findings "are potentially of public health importance." 

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