PHARMACY

Study shows link between beta-blockers at non-cardiac surgery time and heart attack

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK A study published in the October issue of the journal Archives of Surgery has found that some patients taking beta-blockers close to the time they receive non-cardiac surgery may have higher rates of heart attack and death within 30 days of the surgery.

Non-cardiac surgery carries a risk of death, stroke or heart attack in patients who have or are at risk for heart disease, the study?s authors wrote in the background information for the article.

The authors of the study examined 1,238 patients who received non-cardiac surgery at hospitals in Boston in 2000, including plastic, vascular, abdominal and hernia-repair surgery. Before their procedures, patients were classified as having high, intermediate, low or negligible cardiac risk, and each procedure was also classified as high-, intermediate- or low-risk. Of the patients, 238 received beta-blockers around the time of their operations and were matched by age, sex, cardiac and procedure risk, smoking habits and kidney health to 408 patients who also underwent surgery but did not take beta-blockers.

Patients at all levels of cardiac risk who took beta-blockers had lower heart rates before and during surgery, but over the 30 days after surgery, their heart attack and death rates increased over those in the control group.

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FDA approves Teva application for fentanyl patch

BY Alaric DeArment

JERUSALEM The Food and Drug Administration has approved Teva’s application for its fentanyl transdermal system, the Israeli drug maker announced Monday.

The patches, which will deliver the medication at rates of 25 to 100 micrograms per hour for treating pain, are a generic equivalent to Johnson & Johnson’s Duragesic patches.

Combined sales of the branded and generic versions of the drug were $1.2 billion during the 12 months ending June 30, according to IMS Health data.

Teva said shipment of the patches had begun already.

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Medicaid cost hikes ‘unsustainable,’ HHS secretary warns state budgeters

BY Jim Frederick

WASHINGTON Spending for Medicaid is rising to “unsustainable” levels, and the program’s rapidly rising costs are threatening access to health care for poor and lower-income Americans, Health & Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt warned Friday.

The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is projecting that the Medicaid program will spend $4.9 trillion over the next 10 years. That marks an average annual increase of 7.9 percent annually, according to federal budgeters, significantly outpacing the U.S. economy’s growth rate.

CMS released its report Friday, prompting a grim warning from the HHS secretary at a meeting of state budget directors. “This report should serve as an urgent reminder that the current path of Medicaid spending is unsustainable for both federal and state governments,” Leavitt said. “If nothing is done to rein in these costs, access to healthcare for the nation’s most vulnerable citizens could be threatened.”

Combined, Medicaid and Medicare are expected to gobble up 6.9 percent of the gross domestic product by 2017 at current growth rates, according to HHS. This year, Medicaid will see its rolls swell to a projected 50 million beneficiaries, at an average annual cost per person of more than $6,100.

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