PHARMACY

SDI: Antiviral prescriptions dramatically increase this week

BY Michael Johnsen

PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. After an intense weekend of media coverage about a possible swine flu epidemic, U.S. antiviral prescriptions, such as Tamiflu and Relenza, hit the highest point so far in 2009 and increased nine-fold on Monday, April 27, compared with the average daily volume of collected prescriptions from April 1-26, SDI released in a report Thursday evening.

“Although it is not uncommon for the number of antiviral prescriptions to increase at different times throughout the season,” stated Laurel Edelman, VP clinical accounts at SDI, “we don’t expect to see such a dramatic increase in one day at the end of the season.”

The upward trend in antiviral prescriptions began on Friday, April 24 — the day after the first public Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announcement of swine flu cases in California and Texas — and has remained at a similar level since, with Tuesday’s volume still nearly nine times that of the April daily average.

In the metropolitan statistical areas of New York and Los Angeles, antiviral prescriptions rose significantly higher. In New York, prescription volume increased to more than 14 times the daily April average in that area on Monday, and rose even higher to 15 times the daily norm on Tuesday.

Los Angeles saw the most dramatic increase so far, with daily prescription volume on April 27 increasing 16-fold to the highest point it has reached on any single day in the past two flu seasons. Prescription volume remained at a similar level on Tuesday, with volume 13 times higher than normal.

As of April 24, all physician office visit trends appeared consistent with a typical flu season and one that was mild, compared with the season before. As a result, antiviral prescriptions between Oct. 1 and April 24 were lower than the same period last season.

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Allscripts ranked No. 1 in electronic prescription routing for second consecutive year

BY Allison Cerra

CHICAGO Allscripts announced Thursday for the second consecutive year that it routed more electronic prescriptions over the Surescripts network than any other e-prescribing or Electronic Health Record solution provider. Allscripts also had more active prescribers connected to the national network in 2008 than any other company.

Allscripts also reported a 203% year-over-year increase in the number of end-users on Allscripts electronic prescribing solutions company-wide, both through its stand-alone e-prescribing solutions and its Electronic Health Records.

“Electronic prescribing saves lives by providing the information critical to delivering high quality, safe and cost-effective care,” said Glen Tullman, CEO of Allscripts. “We see standalone e-prescribing as an ‘on-ramp’ to the full Electronic Health Record, helping thousands of physicians to more easily adopt clinical technology as a first step toward using an EHR and qualifying for new federal incentives under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.”

The Act, signed by President Obama in February, empowers the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to pay physicians between $44,000 and $64,000 over five years, beginning in Fiscal Year 2011, for deploying and demonstrating “meaningful use” of a certified Electronic Health Record to care for patients. Physicians who do not use an Electronic Health Record after 2014 will be penalized by CMS.

Benefits of electronic prescribing include eliminating illegible handwriting; adding checks and alerts for harmful drug interactions, dosage levels and patient specific factors such as prior adverse reactions; streamlining processes such as refill requests; and improving patient compliance and convenience.

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Study results find that Vesicare has lower incidence of specific side effect

BY Alaric DeArment

CHICAGO Patients with overactive bladder who received the drug Vesicare reported lower incidence of dry mouth than those who received an immediate-release formulation of the generic drug oxybutynin, according to a new study presented at the American Urological Association’s annual meeting in Chicago Tuesday.

“Findings from the VECTOR study are very encouraging,” University of Toronto urology professor Sender Herschorn said in a statement. “The fact that some patients discontinue treatment for OAB because of intolerable side effects counters our best efforts to encourage them to seek treatment which could improve their quality of life.”

The VECTOR study compared the tolerability and efficacy of Vesicare (solifenacin) with oxybutynin IR for the treatment of overactive bladder. The study enrolled 132 adults from various locations in Canada who had symptoms of OAB for three months or longer.

Oxybutynin is the generic name of Johnson & Johnson’s Ditropan, originally approved in the 1970s.

Vesicare is manufactured by Astellas Pharma.

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