PHARMACY

Study results show Lipitor helps reduce rate of heart-health emergencies

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK Results of an observational study indicate that patients taking Pfizer’s Lipitor (atorvastatin calcium) had a 13 percent reduction in the relative risk of heart-related emergencies compared to Merck’s Zocor (simvastatin), drug maker Pfizer said Wednesday.

The study, published in the December issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, was based on the managed care claims of patients between 18 and 64. The patients had recently begun using the drugs, had not used statins before and did not have evident cardiovascular disease. The average doses in the study were 29 mg of Zocor and 17 mg of Lipitor. It did not find any significant difference among patients with the secondary endpoints of stroke, revascularization surgery or peripheral vascular disease.

“Observational data such as this, which reflect the use of medicines in real-world clinical practice rather than in a controlled trial setting, mayhelp healthcare providers and managed care companies improve clinical outcomes for patients,” Emory University medicine professor and director of the health promotion and disease prevention office at Grady Health Systems Terry Jacobson said in a statement.

The study analyzed claims for statin prescriptions filed between January 2003 and December 2005 by patients having their first inpatient or emergency room admission for heart disease, heart attack, chest pain, certain heart surgeries, peripheral vascular disease, swelling of the aorta, stroke and transient ischemic attack.

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PHARMACY

Fougera endows NACDS scholarship fund

BY Jim Frederick

NEW YORK With a major endowment from Fougera, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Foundation last night inaugurated the Edmond Fougera Scholarship Fund at the 10th Annual NACDS Foundation Dinner.

To establish the fund, Fougera president and chief executive officer Paul McGarty presented a $160,000 contribution to Foundation chairman Steven Anderson. The money, a major addition to the NACDS Foundation Student Scholarship Program, will generate scholarships to be awarded each year to exceptional pharmacy students who have demonstrated strong leadership and a commitment to community pharmacy.

To establish the fund, Fougera president and chief executive officer Paul McGarty presented a $160,000 contribution to Foundation chairman Steven Anderson. The money, a major addition to the NACDS Foundation Student Scholarship Program, will generate scholarships to be awarded each year to exceptional pharmacy students who have demonstrated strong leadership and a commitment to community pharmacy.

“Advancing community pharmacy by supporting the next generation of professionals is an honorable mission, and one that Fougera is proud to be a part of,” McGarty said during the presentation.

“Pharmacy students will play a critical role in the future of healthcare delivery for patients,” said Anderson. “We are pleased to partner with Fougera in establishing the Edmond Fougera Scholarship Fund and help students meet their potential and continue to advance the profession of pharmacy.”

The company was founded by French immigrant Edmond Fougera in 1849 when he opened a retail pharmacy in Brooklyn, New York, and is a supplier of topical dermatologic applications.

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Study: Generics just as good as branded heart disease drugs

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK Generic drugs for treating heart disease work as well as branded drugs, according to a new study.

The study, published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, was based on 47 studies of nine drugs published in journals such as Medline and International Pharmaceutical Abstracts between January 1984 and August 2008. The researchers, from Harvard Medical School, found no difference in how well patients did when given branded drugs or generic equivalents for cholesterol, hypertension or prevention of heart attacks.

Generic drugs can cost between 30 and 80 percent less than branded drugs. The Food and Drug Administration received authority to approve generic drugs in 1984, with the passage of the Hatch-Waxman Act, though it does not have a way to approve drugs that mimic the effects of biotech medications.

“Today’s article in the respected medical journal JAMA confirms that generic medicines are as safe and effective as their brand-name counterparts,” Generic Pharmaceutical Association president and chief executive Kathleen Jaeger said in a statement Wednesday. “This scientific review is the latest in a growing number of authoritative statements from the FDA and others proving that it is safe to substitute an FDA-approved generic medicine for a brand-name product.”

This year, Jaeger said, legislatures in 33 state have introduced “carve-out” bills designed to place limits on when generic drugs may be used.

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