HEALTH

Sanofi-Aventis announces availability of insulin pen in the United States

BY Alaric DeArment

BRIDGEWATER, N.J. A disposable insulin pen for patients ages 4 and older with Type 1 diabetes and adults with Type 2 diabetes has become available in the United States.

Sanofi-Aventis U.S. announced Monday the availability of the Apidra SoloSTAR, a pen with the fast-acting insulin analog Apidra (insulin glulisine [rDNA origin]). The pen received Food and Drug Administration approval in February, following the approval and launch of the long-acting Lantus SoloSTAR (insulin glargine [rDNA origin]).

“Sanofi-Aventis is committed to providing innovative tools to patients with diabetes that can help ease some of the challenges of blood sugar management,” stated Jerry Durso, Sanofi-Aventis U.S. VP Specialized Therapeutics Business Unit. “Apidra SoloSTAR provides patients with a convenient option for administering their Apidra.”

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Congress targets crime against retailers with ‘Protect Your Pharmacy Week’

BY Drug Store News Team

NEW YORK The fact that Congress stepped up to designate the week of April 13 as “Protect Your Pharmacy Week” is important as it further acknowledges and supports the fight against the growing problem of crime against retailers.

 

As stated in the article, the concept of “Protect Your Pharmacy Week” was created last year to encourage pharmacists to protect themselves, staff and patients against pharmacy crime, including prescription drug theft. New for this year is the Protect Your Pharmacy Now! Prescription Disposal Program, which offers information and resources for pharmacies to create consumer drug disposal programs to help their patients safely dispose of unused and expired medicines that may be dangerous to others and to the environment.

 

 

The news came on the heels of a letter sent by Steve Anderson, NACDS president and CEO, to Reps. Brad Ellsworth, D-Ind., and Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, praising the introduction of the Organized Retail Crime Act of 2009. This bill would define organized crime, expand fraud to include the illegal use of gift cards, UPC labels or RFID and requests that the United States Sentencing Commission review and amend the sentencing guidelines for convicted offenders.

 

 

The NACDS has stated that organized retail crime is responsible for more than $30 billion in losses annually, resulting in increased costs for merchants, higher prices for consumers, and lost tax revenue for state and local governments. In addition to increased costs faced by retailers to cover losses and investment of additional security measures, consumers are placed at risk when tampering occurs on such health care products as infant formula and OTC medications.

 

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This year’s flu season: Low activity level, antibiotic-resistant viral strain

BY Michael Johnsen

ATLANTA Low levels of influenza activity throughout the majority of the season, coupled with the fact that the predominant viral strain this year showed some resistance to antiviral remedies, characterized the 2008/2009 influenza season, according to a report published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Friday.

After a slow start to the season, influenza activity increased in mid-January, peaked in mid-February and remained high until mid-March. Since mid-March, influenza levels have been decreasing nationally.

During this influenza season, a high level of resistance to the antiviral drug Tamiflu (oseltamivir) was detected among circulating influenza A (H1N1) viruses. Since October 1, 99.3% of influenza A (H1N1) viruses tested were resistant to Tamiflu. To date, influenza A has accounted for 67.3% of all influenza viruses identified, and influenza A (H1N1) has accounted for 89.8% of the influenza A viruses that were subtyped.

No oseltamivir resistance has been detected among influenza A (H3N2) or B viruses currently circulating in the United States; however, all the influenza A (H3N2) viruses tested were resistant to adamantanes (Symmetrel and Flumadine, for example). The adamantanes are not effective against influenza B viruses, either. None of the influenza A (H1N1) viruses tested were resistant to both oseltamivir and the adamantanes, and all influenza viruses tested this season have been susceptible to Relenza (zanamivir).

CDC issued interim guidelines for the use of influenza antiviral medications on Dec. 19, suggesting that health-care providers should review their local surveillance data if available to determine which types (A or B) and subtypes of influenza A (H1N1 or H3N2) are most prominent in their community and consider using diagnostic tests to distinguish influenza A from influenza B. When an influenza A (H1N1) virus infection or exposure is suspected, zanamivir is the preferred medication; combination therapy of Tamiflu and Flumadine is an acceptable alternative.

Since early February, the relative proportion of influenza B viruses had been increasing each week, and more than half of influenza viruses identified since the week ending March 14 were influenza B. Approximately 80% of influenza B viruses tested have not been related to the influenza B vaccine strain, however, all influenza B viruses this season have been susceptible to Tamiflu and Relenza. When the type or subtype is unknown, Relenza was the preferred medication, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted.

To date, this season, the cumulative laboratory-confirmed, influenza-associated hospitalization rate reported by EIP among persons greater than 49-years-old has been lower than rates reported for the previous three seasons, but most similar to the 2006/2007 season.

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