PHARMACY

Report shows health care startups big business in Midwest

BY Drew Buono

CLEVELAND According to the Midwest Health Care Venture Investment Report, Midwest health care startups attracted a record $1.2 billion in new investments in 2007, a 55 percent increase over 2006.

By sector, the equity funding was allocated as follows: Biopharmaceutical companies: $687 million (56 percent); Medical device companies: $329 million (27 percent); Health care software and service companies: $208 million (17 percent). Minnesota and Ohio led all Midwestern states with $296 million attracted each.

“While the Midwest is known nationally for its high-quality medical devices, the data indicates that investors have discovered that the Midwest also is rich in high-quality biopharmaceutical start-ups,” said Baiju Shah, president of BioEnterprise, who released the report.

“The region has always had rich bioscience resources including world-renowned research institutions and a broad industry base,” said Shah. “That potential is finally being translated, through investments in translational research, new capital sources, and professional technology development groups, into a series of high-growth bioscience ventures. The economic future of the Midwest includes a vibrant and dominant bioscience industry.”

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FDA updates labeling for birth control patch to reflect risk of blood clots

BY Drew Buono

WASHINGTON The Food and Drug Administration has approved additional changes to the labeling for the Ortho Evra patch, made by Ortho McNeil Pharmaceuticals, to include the results of a new study that found users of the birth control patch were at higher risk of developing serious blood clots, also known as venous thromboembolism, which can lead to a pulmonary embolism.

The Boston Collaborative Drug Surveillance Program on behalf of Johnson & Johnson conducted the study. The patch was studied in women aged 15-44. These recent findings support an earlier study that also said women in this group were at higher risk for VTE.

Ortho Evra is a prescription patch that releases the hormones ethinyl estradiol and norelgestromin through the skin into the blood stream. Because the hormones are processed by the body differently than hormones from birth control pills, women using the product will be exposed to about 60 percent more estrogen than if they were using typical birth control pills containing 35 micrograms of estrogen. Increased levels of estrogen may increase the risk of side effects, including VTE.

Women should discuss with their health care providers the possible increased risk of VTE with Ortho Evra, which is applied once a week, and balance this risk against the increased chance of pregnancy if women do not take their birth control pill daily.

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Study shows Avodart/Flomax combo more effective on enlarged prostate problems

BY Drew Buono

PHILADELPHIA A new study that will be published in the Journal of Urology shows that men with enlarged prostates who took a combination of two medications, Avodart and tamsulosin hydrochloride, the generic version of the Astellas Pharma/Boehringer Ingelheim drug Flomax, experienced greater improvements in urinary symptoms than men prescribed either medication alone, according to published reports.

Over time, Avodart (dutasteride) shrinks the prostate, improves symptoms and arrests the enlarged prostate disease process. Tamsulosin is an alpha-blocker that relaxes the muscles in the bladder and prostate.

The study, entitled The Combination of Avodart and Tamsulosin, looked at male patients with moderate-to-severe enlarged prostate symptoms received a placebo for four weeks and then were randomized to receive Avodart and tamsulosin as combination therapy, for the remaining 24 months of the study.

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