PHARMACY

Studies show menopause drug safer for women’s breast health

BY Jenna Duncan

TRENTON, N.J. Two studies released Thursday have shown that Wyeth’s menopause drug Aprela reduced symptoms of menopause without increasing breast tenderness.

The drug, which combines estrogen and the drug compound bazedoxifene, is in experimental stages and part of a drug class called selective estrogen receptor modulators.

One study examined 3,400 women with an average age of 57 who had entered menopause but still had symptoms such as sleeping problems and hot flashes. The women in the experimental group received doses of Aprela every day for two years, while the others received either the drug Evista or a placebo.

The women taking Aprela didn’t develop breast cancer, but Wyeth will continue to monitor them because it can take up to 10 years to develop.

The other study included 318 women who had at least 50 hot flashes a week; women taking Aprela had improvements in their sleep and had less-severe hot flashes.

Wyeth plans to apply next year for permission from the Food and Drug Administration to market the drug.

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U.K. National Institute for Health authority advises conservative treatment of ADHD

BY Alaric DeArment

LONDON The United Kingdom’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence issued guidelines Wednesday recommending that doctors prescribe drugs such as Ritalin sparingly for children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

NICE said the drugs should only go to kids with severe ADHD, while kids with moderate cases should receive special help from parents and teachers. More than 2.5 million young people in the United States use drugs to treat ADHD.

Ritalin (methylphenidate) had sales of $375 million in 2007, according to financial data from maker Novartis.

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Rite Aid adds RX Savings Card discount program chain-wide

BY Michael Johnsen

CAMP HILL, Pa. Beginning Sept. 29, Rite Aid will makes its RX Savings Card available across the chain, enabling consumers to save on more than 10,000 prescription drugs and more than 3,200 Rite Aid brand products.

“The Rite Aid RX Savings Card has been so successful in Michigan, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and California that we have expanded the program nationwide,” stated Bill Wolfe, Rite Aid group vice president, pharmacy. “Residents in those states really embraced the card and in only a few months have saved over $5 million on their prescriptions, over-the-counter medicines and Rite Aid brand items.”

Benefits of the free card include:

• Access to more than 400 generic medications at $8.99 for a 30-day supply and $15.99 for a 90-day supply for each prescription;

• a 20 percent discount on all other generic medications and brand drug prescriptions;

• a 30-day supply of select generic oral contraceptives for $19.99; and

• a 10 percent savings on more than 3,200 Rite Aid brand products, which include more than 1,500 over-the-counter medications.

The Rite Aid RX Savings Card will especially benefit those who have no or limited prescription insurance. Others who will find particular benefit from the card are those whose prescription plan does not cover certain drugs or who have reached their benefit limits, the company stated.

“Many Americans are without health insurance, even though they may be steadily employed. Combine that with record-high gas prices, increasing food prices and the increasing cost of living in general, and there is a serious need for a card like this to help people take care of themselves and their families,” Wolfe said. “That’s why our list of 30 and 90 day generics at $8.99 and $15.99 cuts across most therapeutic categories and includes some of the most widely used generic drugs such as amlodipine/simvastatin to treat cardiovascular conditions, loratadine for allergies, ranitadine for gastrointestinal conditions, and sertraline which is an antidepressant.”

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