PHARMACY

Plavix plus heartburn remedies could be dangerous for stent patients

BY Jenna Duncan

NEW YORK Reports released this week claim that stent patients taking Plavix, a blood thinning drug, should avoid certain remedies for heartburn due to increased risk of heart attack, stroke or other dangerous events.

Researchers followed about 14,000 patients in a database operated by pharmacy benefits manager Medco Health Solutions over the course of a year [2005 to 2006], reports said. Medco reported that 40 percent of the patients studied were taking prescription heartburn drugs, but if many other OTC heartburn drugs had been considered, the percentile would have been greater. All the patients in the study had been implanted with a stent—a tube made of wire-mesh that props open the arteries once they’ve been cleared of plaque, Medco said. The patients were tracked to see whether they would need hospitalization for heart and/or circulatory issues within one year of having stents implanted.

Findings concluded that stent patients taking Plavis who also took heartburn drugs, such as Nexium, or who had chronic stomach conditions had a much likelier chance of being hospitalized for chest pain, heart attack, stroke or other events.

Spokespersons at drug maker Bristol-Myers Squibb have questioned Medco’s approach and recommended patients speak to their doctors before changing their heartburn treatment regimens. Scientists at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association New Orleans had similar concerns upon hearing the data, reports said.

The report presented said that almost 40 percent of patients who had had a heart attack has other severe events within a year of having stent implantation and taking Plavix and heartburn drugs. But, of those patients who did not take heartburn drugs, only 26.2 percent had another event with like results.

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PHARMACY

FDA raises questions about efficacy of pain medication tamper-proofing

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK Questions have arisen as to whether a pill by Pain Therapeutics and King Pharmaceuticals is resistant to tampering.

A memo by the Food and Drug Administration Monday concerns the drug Remoxy, a formulation of oxycodone that uses liquid capsule drug-delivery technology designed to prevent misuse of the drug. Some people have abused oxycodone tablets by crushing them, dissolving it in water and then injecting it for its opiate-like effects.

The FDA’s memo said that Pain Therapeutics did not sufficiently conduct long-term tests of Remoxy to determine whether the oxycodone could be extracted and diverted, though Pain Therapeutics disputes that claim.

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Titan releases earnings report for Q3 2008

BY Alaric DeArment

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. Titan Pharmaceuticals has released financial results for third quarter 2008.

Total operating costs for the quarter, which ended Sept. 30, were $6 million, compared with $4.6 million for third quarter 2007, the company said. Net loss for the quarter was $5.9 million, compared to $4.3 million last year; losses in both cases totaled 10 cents a share. The increase in operating costs resulted mostly from an increase in research and development funding related to development of the opiate addiction treatment Probuphine (buprenorphine) and a slight increase in general and administrative costs.

“We have continued to streamline our expenses and focus our resources on the phase 3 clinical development of Probuphine,” Titan president and chief executive Marc Rubin said. “During the third quarter, we have engaged in discussions with several potential partners both in the U.S. and Europe, and we are continuing these efforts as we evaluate strategic alternatives for the company.”

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