PHARMACY

Roche says doctors can tell which hepatitis B patients will react well to Roche

BY Alaric DeArment

BASEL, Switzerland Doctors can predict which hepatitis B patients will have the most success, including being cured, when treated with a Roche drug, the Swiss drug maker announced Monday.

The company said patients will have some confidence about their likelihood of beating the virus when receiving treatment with Roche’s Pegasys (peginterferon alfa-2a).

Several studies at the APASL Asia-Pacific liver disease meeting focused on measuring the decline in levels of a viral protein called surface antigen to provide insight into the likelihood of treatment success for patients treated with Pegasys. Completely clearance of s-antigen is considered a cure and associated with reduced risk of liver cancer and cirrhosis.

“In treating hepatitis B, we need to change mindsets and raise expectations so that patients and physicians are focused on achieving the best possible outcome: clearance of the s-antigen,” University of Paris hepatology professor Patrick Marcellin said in a statement.

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FDA approves Takeda’s chronic hyperuricemia drug

BY Alaric DeArment

OSAKA, Japan The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new drug from Takeda for treating chronic hyperuricemia in patients with gout, the Japanese drug maker and its North American subsidiary announced last week.

Takeda said Friday that the FDA had approved Uloric (febuxostat) in the 40-mg and 80-mg strengths. It said the once-daily pill is the first new treatment option in more than 40 years for the condition. Tokyo-based Teijin Pharma discovered the drug and licensed it to Takeda for the United States market.

“The approval of Uloric offers clinicians and their patients who have hyperuricemia associated with gout a new treatment option that helps prevent uric acid production,” Takeda Global Research & Development Center Inc., U.S. president Nancy Joseph-Ridge said in a statement. “In the years that we’ve dedicated to studying patients who have gout, I know that many patients go to their doctor during a flare not understanding that gout is a chronic disease that needs to be managed on a long-term, daily basis.”

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NACDS to provide 85 pharmacy school scholarships

BY Alaric DeArment

ALEXANDRIA, Va. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores Foundation will give $172,000 in pharmacy school scholarships.

The foundation announced Wednesday that it gives the awards as part of its Pharmacy Student Scholarship Program. The amount includes 85 scholarships, including the Robert J. Bolger Scholarship and the Taro Research Foundation Scholarship. The NACDS Foundation gave 60 scholarships in 2007 and 40 in 2006. 

Students selected for Foundation scholarships must be enrolled as full-time pharmacy students, have experience in community pharmacy and have a desire to pursue a career in community pharmacy. 

The Robert J. Bolger Scholarship is named after the former NACDS president and CEO; Barr Labs, where Bolger served on the board for 14 years, sponsors the award. The recipients this year are University of Maryland School of Pharmacy student Rita Kasliwal and Texas A University Health Science Center Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy student Hui Yun. 

The Taro Research Foundation Scholarship is named for a private research foundation whose main purpose is to support public charitable organizations that conduct medical research, facilitate medical education and provide assistance to people with medical disorders. This year’s recipients are University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy student Sarah Providence and Duquesne University Mylan School of Pharmacy student Emily Lunz. 

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