PHARMACY

Report; N.Y. seeks to prohibit doctors from accepting gifts from drug companies

BY Alaric DeArment

ALBANY, N.Y. New York Gov. David Paterson hopes to put an end to gifts from drug companies to doctors, according to published reports.

The Associated Press reported Sunday that Paterson proposed legislation that would prohibit drug makers from giving doctors such gifts as pens and free meals to persuade them to prescribe their drugs. Drug companies that violated the ban would be fined between $15,000 and $250,000, while healthcare professionals would be fined $5,000 to $10,000. Nine states so far have laws on the books that prohibit the practice.

According to the AP article, patient-advocacy organizations such as AARP are supporting the legislation, while the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, which represents the branded drug industry, opposes it.

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FDA approves Ampyra

BY Alaric DeArment

ROCKVILLE, Md. The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new drug for improving walking ability in adults with multiple sclerosis, the agency announced Friday.

The FDA approved Acorda Therapeutics’ Ampyra (dalfampridine) extended-release tablets, designed to be administered in daily 10-mg doses. The agency’s approval was based on clinical trials that showed patients treated with the drug had faster walking speeds than those who received placebo. Ireland-based Elan will manufacture the drug using its technology platform, while Acorda will market it in the United States. Biogen Idec will market it in other countries.

“Trouble with walking is one of the most debilitating problems people with MS face,” FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research Division of Neurology Products director Russell Katz said.

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Cascade Health Solutions opens Primary Care Clinic

BY Antoinette Alexander

EUGENE, Ore. Cascade Health Solutions, a local nonprofit healthcare provider, is opening here on Feb. 1 a membership-based primary care clinic that will be staffed by a full-time nurse practitioner to treat members.

Unlike other retail medical clinics, the Primary Care Clinic will serve as a medical “home” for ongoing healthcare needs.

According to Cascade Health Solutions, the clinic will offer membership-based primary medical care to individuals and families who lack health insurance or who only have catastrophic coverage. The basic month-to-month membership cost is $45 for individuals; families of four or more enrolling together pay $40 per person each month. There is no enrollment fee to join and members will pay $20 per visit.

Membership will be initially limited to 750 members and will then grow to 2,500 in the first year.

Services include routine checkups, office visits, health education and counseling as well as treatment for such chronic illnesses as diabetes and high blood pressure. There are no caps for chronic conditions. Patients can visit the clinic as often as desired provided they pay their monthly membership costs and the $20 office visit fee for each visit. Preventive, birth control and mental health services are also available to members.

A variety of diagnostic tests also are available as part of the office-visit fee of $20, including throat cultures, PAP smears, and other standard tests and screenings.

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