PHARMACY

Researchers find arthritis drugs work better in combination

BY Drew Buono

WASHINGTON New research has shown that no one rheumatoid arthritis medication works better than another, although mixing different types of drugs in a combination approach works better than a single treatment, according to Reuters.

A team at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality looked at 11 different drugs used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, an incurable, joint-destroying condition that also weakens the surrounding tissue. They searched clinical trials that enrolled at least 100 people between 1980 and 2007.

“Experts do not agree about the comparative benefits of different combination therapies. Many questions remain about the risks of these agents across a spectrum of adverse events from relatively minor side effects to severe and possible life-threatening problems,” the researchers wrote.

The therapies used in the study included corticosteroids, synthetic disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs, such as hydroxychloroquine, leflunomide, methotrexate and sulfasalazine. They also looked at biological anti-rheumatic drugs such as Orencia, Humira, Kineret, Enbrel, Remicade, Rituxan, and MabThera. The drugs generated sales of nearly $10 billion in 2006.

“Rheumatoid arthritis is a painful, degenerative disease that affects people of all ages and can profoundly impact quality of life,” AHRQ director Carolyn Clancy said in a statement.

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PHARMACY

Celgene to acquire Pharmion for $72/share

BY Drew Buono

SUMMIT, N.J. Celgene and Pharmion have announced a merger agreement, under which Celgene has agreed to acquire Pharmion. Celgene will acquire all of Pharmion’s outstanding shares of common stock for $72 per share payable in cash and share of Celgene common stock.

Under the agreement, Celgene will acquire the rights to three popular Pharmion oncology drugs: Revlimid, Thalomid, and Vidaza. Thalmoid and Revlimid are used to treat patients with multiple myeloma. Vidaza is used to treat myelodysplastic syndromes.

“The acquisition of Pharmion is an exceptional strategic fit that will expand our role as a leader in hematology and oncology,” said Sol Barer, chairman and chief executive officer of Celgene Corporation. “Our combined global infrastructure will leverage the therapeutic and commercial potential of Pharmion’s products, particularly Vidaza, which has the potential to become a major global therapy. By bringing together the talents and resources of both companies, we move closer to our vision of becoming a leading hematology and oncology company in the world, expanding our industry leading programs for safety, access and patient support.”

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RxHub introduces Rx 4 Success e-prescribing program

BY Drew Buono

ST. PAUL, Minn. RxHub, a company that keeps track of patient-specific medication history and pharmacy benefit information, has announced a new product for e-prescribing, the Rx 4 Success.

The new program was developed to target four main areas of e-prescribing: utilization of Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services approved ePrescribing transactions including eligibility, formulary and benefits, and medication history. The program will also integrate true electronic delivery of prescriptions to retail and mail order pharmacies. It will also keep consistent rules-based applications of clinical decision support content and formulate transactional data to support the development of outcomes based on pay-for-performance programs.

“We are extremely proud to be associated with our growing roster of partners which includes many of the healthcare industry’s foremost technology innovators,” stated Doug Johnson, vice president of business development for technology partners at RxHub. “Their collective vision not only helped shape Rx 4 Success but provides the foundation for ongoing market driven performance analysis and improvement.”

Rx 4 Success will become a participation requirement for technology partners connected to the RxHub network as of July 31, 2008.

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