PHARMACY

Study finds no adverse effect of antipsychotics on blood sugar, cholesterol levels

BY Alaric DeArment

PORTLAND, Ore. Despite a warning from the Food and Drug Administration, blood sugar and cholesterol monitoring of patients using newer antipsychotic medications remains low, a new study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry has found.

With funding from Pfizer, researchers in Oregon State University, Emory University and other research institutions in Colorado and Missouri analyzed data from 109,000 Medicaid patients. They found that doctors had largely ignored the FDA warning, released in 2003, to screen patients using the “second generation” antipsychotic medications, which includes a broad range of drugs such as Pfizer’s Geodon (ziprasidone) and AstraZeneca’s Seroquel (quetiapine fumarate), for high blood sugar and cholesterol, which the drugs are known to increase, along with weight gain and the risk of diabetes.

“The existing baseline screening and ongoing monitoring of glucose and lipid levels in these patients was already pretty low, and the FDA warning really had no impact in changing that,” Oregon State University College of Pharmacy professor Daniel Hartung said in a statement. “The side effects that can be caused by these new types of antipsychotic medications, some of which were first approved in the 1990s, are not trivial. Increases in blood sugar, cholesterol and body weight can lead to diabetes in some cases, and this patient group already has a problem with diabetes that’s almost twice that of the general population.”

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New report projects sales of Parkinson’s disease drug will reach $500 million

BY Alaric DeArment

WALTHAM, Mass. A drug made by Boehringer Ingelheim for treating Parkinson’s disease could have sales of up to half a billion dollars, according to a new analysis.

According to a report released Tuesday by market research firm Decision Resources, BI’s extended-release formulation of pramipexole will have peak-year sales of between $250 million and $500 million in major pharmaceutical markets. The drug was launched in Europe in 2009 and is expected to enter the market in the United States this year.

In the beginning, according to the report, launches of generic formulations of the immediate-release version of pramipexole and competition from GlaxoSmithKline’s and SkyePharma’s Requip XL (ropinirole CR) and generic versions of immediate-release Requip will put a damper on sales of pramipexole ER. However, physician familiarity with the drug and preference among physicians and patients for once-daily dosing will cause a “significant” increase in sales.

“Given physician comfort in prescribing pramipexole for Parkinson’s disease and the convenience of once-daily dosing that it would offer, we expect that pramipexole ER will take much of pramipexole IR’s patient share,” Decision Resources analyst Sami Fam said. “In the short term, we expect pramipexole ER will lose some patient share to ropinirole CR given that ropinirole CR was the first of the two agents to launch. But over the long term, physicians’ slight preference for pramipexole over ropinirole should help to boost pramipexole ER’s uptake.”

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Report: Weis Markets acquires local Medicine Shoppe pharmacy

BY Michael Johnsen

SUNBURY, Pa. Weis recently acquired a Medicine Shoppe pharmacy in the Binghamton, N.Y., market, local newscaster News Channel 34 (owned by Newport Television) reported early Tuesday morning.

Weis Markets currently has 120 in-store pharmacies at other locations and is considering more at its Broome County locations, the report noted.

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