PHARMACY

Report: Johnson & Johnson cuts comprehensive care unit

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK One of the largest pharmaceutical manufacturers in the United States is eliminating its comprehensive care unit, according to published reports.

The Associated Press reported that Johnson & Johnson would eliminate its comprehensive care unit — the unit that includes businesses making diabetes products, diagnostic tests, contact lenses, catheters and other items. Last year, the unit had $10 billion in revenues, but sales decreased by 8% in the first half of this year, compared with last year.

AP also reported that the company had been forced to reduce costs due to generic competition against drugs like the antipsychotic Risperdal (risperidone) and Topamax (topiramate), used to treat migraine headaches epilepsy, while strengthening of the dollar had harmed sales in other countries.

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FDA allows DoD to distribute swine flu test to soldiers

BY Alaric DeArment

ROCKVILLE, Md. The Food and Drug Administration will allow the Department of Defense to distribute a test for detecting the swine flu in soldiers serving overseas.

The FDA announced Tuesday that it had issued an emergency use authorization for the test, developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and called the CDC swH1N1 Influenza Real-Time RT-PCR. An EUA allows the use of unapproved medical products or unapproved uses of them during a declared public health emergency. The 2009 H1N1 influenza virus was declared a global pandemic this summer, making it the first influenza pandemic since 1968.

“The FDA worked quickly with the Defense Department to authorize the use of this test to better protect our troops,” FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg said in a statement. “The test will aid in more rapid diagnosis of 2009 H1N1 influenza infections so that deployed troops can quickly begin appropriate medical treatment.”

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Study finds leukotriene modifiers work best for asthma sufferers

BY Alaric DeArment

WILMINGTON, Del. Asthma patients have an easier time controlling their disease with oral controllers than with a common type of inhaled drug, according to a new study.

In a peer-reviewed study requested by WellPoint, conducted by HealthCore and published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, patients taking oral controllers called leukotriene modifiers had better clinical results than those taking inhaled corticosteroids.

“Clinical superiority of the inhaled products has been well-documented in clinical trials, and the HealthCore study confirmed this for those who take their medication properly,” HealthCore VP clinical affairs Joseph Singer said in a statement. “However, we were surprised to discover that in looking at all patients in real-world settings, oral controllers appeared to be a better choice of treatment because of better compliance.”

Common leukotriene modifier brands include Merck & Co.’s Singulair (montelukast sodium), AstraZeneca’s Accolate (zafilukast) and Cornerstone Therapeutics’ Zyflo (zileuton).

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