HEALTH

Q&A: A dose of generic Meda-cine

BY Alaric DeArment

Many generic drug companies have long marketed branded drugs on the side, but lately, some branded drug companies have sought to enter the generics business as well. One of those companies is Meda Pharmaceuticals, the U.S. subsidiary of Swedish drug maker Meda AB. Drug Store News recently interviewed John White, Meda’s senior director of marketing.

Drug Store News: What gave Meda the idea of pursuing generics?

John White: Generic medications account for roughly 3-in-4 prescriptions dispensed across the United States. Meda has made the strategic decision to serve this large and growing segment of the market by forming Wallace Pharmaceuticals, a wholly owned subsidiary of Meda Pharmaceuticals. The strategy demonstrates Meda’s efforts to diversify, align and better serve the needs and interests of our customers. We believe our ability to provide consistency in therapeutic effect, manufacturing and supply to our parent company’s branded products will prove to be a competitive advantage for Wallace Pharmaceuticals.

DSN: Considering that the available pool of blockbuster drugs coming off patent is getting smaller, how does Meda plan to use generics to drive growth for the company overall?

White: There is a significant opportunity for continued growth of generic prescription products in healthcare reform, and Wallace is well-positioned to become a preferred supplier of high-quality, high-value generic medicines. Wallace Pharmaceuticals creates an additional platform for Meda’s portfolio growth across therapeutic categories in which we will seek to introduce products where current and future market needs exist.

DSN: On what therapeutic areas do you plan to focus?

White: Wallace is launching with a core portfolio of Meda’s well-known allergy and pain medicines, and will be announcing additional product introductions in the upcoming months.

DSN: In what markets do you plan to concentrate business?

White: Efforts to launch Wallace Pharmaceuticals will be focused in the United States.

DSN: What about biosimilars?

White: We have no plans at this time.

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Dr. Siegal’s Cookie Diet introduces CalciOs

BY Allison Cerra

VIENNA, Va. Dr. Siegal’s Cookie Diet has expanded its offerings to include calcium-fortified cookies designed to treat occasional heartburn.

CalciOs cookies are vanilla-flavored cookies, each one providing 30% of the daily value of dietary calcium, Dr. Siegal’s Cookie Diet said. The cookies contain calcium carbonate, designed to treat heartburn relief. CalciOs also are free of artificial colors and preservatives.

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Pharmacies should get out of tobacco-selling, into smoking-cessation game

BY Antoinette Alexander

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT The news that San Francisco’s board of supervisors gave preliminary approval to ban tobacco sales at all retailers that operate pharmacies, including mass merchants and grocers, is a step in the right direction, because if drug stores are going to be banned from selling them, then all retail pharmacy outlets should be banned. However, there’s an even bigger picture to consider.

(THE NEWS: Report: San Francisco supervisors OK tobacco sales ban at pharmacies. For the full story, click here)

As many dollars as pharmacy retailers made selling cigarettes, there is much more to be gained in medication therapy management, and there is a significant opportunity for retail pharmacy to have a greater stake in the future of health care.

Cigarette smoking has been identified as the most important source of preventable disease, illness and death worldwide, according to the American Lung Association. Smoking-related diseases claim an estimated 443,000 American lives each year, including those affected indirectly by "secondhand" smoke.

Furthermore, smoking-related healthcare expenditures are a major drain on the U.S. healthcare system. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking cost the United States more than $193 billion in 2004, including $97 billion in lost productivity and $96 billion in direct healthcare expenditures, or an average of $4,260 per adult smoker.

Clearly, there’s a positive role that pharmacists can play in smoking cessation. To further support this, a recently published study on the "effect of a pharmacist-managed smoking-cessation clinic on quit rates" found that pharmacists can play a vital role in smoking cessation, especially in a group setting, as they can reach more people within the same time frame.

The study found that at three months and six months, 47.6% and 52.4% of patients reported being smoke-free, respectively. The study was conducted on patients that had participated in the pharmacist-managed Smoking Cessation Group Clinic at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. Participants received structured group counseling on various topics associated with cessation.

It also should be noted that in August, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced that Medicare coverage for seniors trying to quit smoking was expanded to include everyone on Medicare.

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