PHARMACY

Study: Long-term use of impotence drugs does not change visual function

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK A new study published in the April issue of Archives of Ophthalmology detected no changes in visual function, signs of retina damage or intraocular pressure after the daily use for six months of erectile dysfunction treatments.

Viagra (sildenafil) or Cialis (tadalafil) are commonly used to treat erectile dysfunction and are also being considered for use in other disorders. These drugs, however, have been associated with visual side effects, such as blue-tinged or blurred vision and light sensitivity, explained Eli Lilly’s William H. Cordell, M.D.

Cordell’s team conducted a study of healthy men with or without mild erectile dysfunction, between 30 and 65 years old and with no ophthalmologic abnormalities or risk factors. The men were randomly assigned to daily treatment with Viagra 50 mg, Cialis 5 mg, or placebo. The analysis included 155 men who completed 6 months of treatment and 212 men who completed three months.

Following treatment with the two erectile dysfunction drugs, no clinically important side effects or differences were detected among the three groups at three months, 6sox months, or at a posttreatment follow-up four to six weeks later.

Similarly, treatment had no effect on visual acuity, color discrimination, intraocular pressure or any other functions.

No cases of nonarteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy or other serious ocular damage occurred during the trial, the authors noted. Nonarteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy is characterized by sudden visual loss, swelling of the optic disc and sometimes hemorrhaging in the area. The condition is usually permanent, and up to 20% of patients can suffer total visual loss.

The authors conclude that the findings indicate no cumulative damage or effect of clinical significance for 5 mg of Cialis or 50 mg or Viagra taken daily for six months, although they caution that their findings cannot be generalized to patients who have coexisting systemic or ocular disease.

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Optimer receives production patent for CDI treatment

BY Alaric DeArment

SAN DIEGO The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has issued a production patent to Optimer Pharmaceuticals covering steps used in the manufacture of fidaxomicin, Optimer announced Monday.

The drug is in phase 3 testing as a treatment for Clostridium difficile infection, also known as CDI.

“The issuance of this production patent is another important milestone in strengthening the patent estate of our lead product candidate, fidaxomicin,” Optimer president and CEO Michael Chang stated. “We believe this patent and the issued polymorphic Form A patent, along with additional pending patent applications, will enhance our intellectual property protection for fidaxomicin.”

CDI causes inflammation of the colon, which often results in diarrhea but can also cause death in extreme cases.

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Walgreens sees boom in e-prescriptions

BY Jim Frederick

DEERFIELD, Ill. The shift to paperless prescribing took a big leap forward at Walgreens in March, with a tripling in the number of prescriptions filled electronically from year-earlier levels. And new government incentives to doctors will quickly push that level higher still, Walgreens predicted.

Walgreens pharmacies filled a record 3.1 million prescriptions electronically last month, marking a 211% increase compared with March of last year, the company reported Monday. Even more striking: the total number of scripts sent via doctors’ e-prescribing systems and filled by Walgreens last month accounted for 15% of all the drug store chain’s eligible prescriptions.

Walgreens estimated it will fill more than 40 million electronic prescriptions this year, compared with 15 million filled in 2008. The company said it expects growth to continue, as the federal government in January began providing financial incentives for doctors to transmit prescriptions electronically for Medicare patients as part of its campaign to nudge the nation’s healthcare system toward health information technology and electronic record-keeping.

Under that incentive program, doctors will earn a 2% bonus on their covered Medicare reimbursements for every Medicare script they transmit electronically instead of via a handwritten prescription handed to the patient.

Don Huonker, Walgreens’ senior VP of heath care innovation, hailed the continued growth in e-prescriptions and said it contributes to lower health care costs and better patient health.

“Prescriptions transmitted electronically increase the likelihood that patients will get their prescriptions filled, benefit from their drug therapy and avoid more expensive medical procedures,” Huonker said. “E-prescribing improves patient safety and quality of care by reducing medication errors and adverse drug events while also reducing time spent on the phone with physician offices to clarify hand-written prescriptions. The fewer times our pharmacists need to call a physician’s office and verify a prescription, the more time they have to focus on drug interactions, the right dosing and patient consultation.”

Walgreens launched an early, rudimentary e-prescribing network in 1992, making it “the first pharmacy to launch an electronic prescribing system” as well as “the industry leader in filling electronic prescriptions,” the company asserts in a statement. Nationally, some 4% of all eligible prescriptions were transmitted electronically last year, according to SureScripts, the country’s largest secure electronic prescribing network.

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