PHARMACY

September is officially National Ovarian Cancer Month

BY Adam Kraemer

MONTEBELLO, Quebec President George W. Bush announced Monday that September 2007 will officially be recognized as National Ovarian Cancer Month.

“In FY 2007, the National Institutes of Health will invest an estimated $102 million into ovarian cancer research through the National Cancer Institute and other institutes,” the President stated. “In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will dedicate nearly $5 million. We will continue to commit our resources to seek better ways to prevent, detect and ultimately cure ovarian cancer.”

“During National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, Americans remember those who have lost their lives to ovarian cancer, and we honor the courage and strength of those who continue to fight this disease,” he continued. “We also recognize the dedicated medical professionals and researchers whose tireless efforts help provide a brighter, healthier future for women.”

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DEA statistics show painkiller sales up almost 90 percent since 1997

BY Adam Kraemer

WASHINGTON The amount of five major painkillers sold at retail establishments rose 90 percent in the eight years up to 2005, according to an Associated Press analysis of statistics from the Drug Enforcement Administration.

According to the DEA statistics more than 200,000 pounds of codeine, morphine, oxycodone, hydrocodone and meperidine were purchased at retail stores during 2005, the most recent year represented in the data.

Most of the increase can be attributed to oxycodone, the codeine derivative in Purdue Pharma’s OxyContin. Use of oxcodone jumped nearly six-fold between 1997 and 2005.

While the drug gained notoriety as “hillbilly heroin,” because of the large amount sold illegally in Appalachia, its highest rates of sale now occur in places such as suburban St. Louis, Columbus, Ohio, and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., the AP reported.

Legal sales of other pain killers are becoming more prevalent in rural and suburban areas alike. In Appalachia, retail sales of hydrocodone—sold mostly as Vicodin—are the highest in the nation. Nine of the 10 areas with the highest per-capita sales are in mostly rural parts of West Virginia, Kentucky or Tennessee. Sales of codeine, however, see some of their highest rates in communities around Kansas City, Mo., Nashville, Tenn. And throughout Long Island, N.Y.

Other findings from the Associated Press:

  • More people are abusing prescription painkillers because the medications are more available. Though the vast majority of people with prescriptions use the drugs safely, the number of emergency room visits from painkiller abuse has increased more than 160 percent since 1995, according to the government.
  • Many pain-management specialists now say they offer guidance and support to patients but will not write prescriptions, even for the sickest people. They cite high-profile arrests and prosecutions by state and federal authorities for their reluctance. The increase in painkiller retail sales continues to rise, but only barely. There was a 150 percent increase in volume in 2001. Four years later, the year-to-year increase was barely 2 percent.

The DEA cites more than 100 cases of physicians being prosecuted for illegally prescribing drugs to patients. Of those, 16 have been convicted while 83 pleaded guilty or no contest. Eight cases are still pending.

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Ranbaxy receives FDA approval for generic Vicodin

BY Adam Kraemer

PRINCETON, N.J. The Food and Drug Administration has granted approval to Ranbaxy Laboratories for the manufacture and market of hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen tablets USP, 7.5 mg/750 mg, 10 mg/500 mg, 5 mg/500 mg and 10 mg/325 mg strengths, Ranbaxy Pharmaceuticals announced today.

The FDA’s Office of Generic Drugs determined the Ranbaxy formulations to be bioequivalent and have the same therapeutic effect as that of the reference listed drugs as follows: Watson Pharmaceuticals’ Norco, Abbott’s Vicodin and Vicodin ES tablets and UCB’s Lortab tablets.

Total annual market sales for hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen tablets were $390.6 million, according to IMS data.

“Hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen tablets are indicated for the relief of moderate to moderately severe pain, and Ranbaxy is pleased to receive final FDA approval for multiple strengths of this product,” stated Jim Meehan, vice president of sales and marketing for Ranbaxy. “These approvals further expand our product portfolio of affordable generic alternatives and will be launched in a November 2007 time period to all classes of trade.”

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