PHARMACY

Three-quarters of Internet users get medical info online

BY Drew Buono

WASHINGTON According to a survey from the Pew Internet Project, 75 percent of Internet users answered yes to the question, “Do you ever use the Internet to look for health or medical information?” The national phone survey took place between October and December of last year.

The survey also showed that, 10 percent of Internet users say they searched for health information “yesterday,” which in a tracking survey yields a picture of the “typical day” online. Health has moved up in the “typical day” list (from 7 percent in 2006 to the current 10 percent of Internet users), but for most people the average day includes lots of emails (60 percent of Internet users), general searches (49 percent), and news reading (39 percent) if they are online at all (30 percent of Internet users are offline on a typical day).

The usual patterns among the basic demographic groups hold true in regards to looking for health information online:

  • 68 percent of online men
  • 81 percent of online women
  • 76 percent of white Internet users
  • 65 percent of African-American Internet users
  • 71 percent of English-speaking Hispanic Internet users
  • 78 percent of people aged 30-49
  • 76 percent of people aged 50-64
  • 71 percent of Internet users age 6 and older

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ImClone to pay $17.5 million to Abbott in Erbitux settlement

BY Drew Buono

BOSTON ImClone Systems, manufacturer of the cancer drug Erbitux, has agreed to pay Abbott Laboratories $17.5 million to end a patent-infringement lawsuit over the medicine, according to Bloomberg.

The companies said in an Aug. 4 notice to U.S. District Judge Richard Stearns in Boston that they had reached a “confidential settlement.” Stearns put the case on hold so the companies can finish the paperwork on the agreement.

Abbott sued ImClone last year, claiming its patented method for creating antibodies is infringed by Erbitux. In May, ImClone filed a lawsuit accusing Abbott of withholding information that could have been used by ImClone to defend itself against a patent suit by Repligen. ImClone paid $65 million to end that case.

“We have reached an agreement in principle that would conclude all outstanding litigation with ImClone,” said Abbott spokesman Scott Stoffel.

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FDA warns about muscle damage from drug combo

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON Combining some heart drugs could cause muscular damage, Reuters reported the Food and Drug Administration as warning.

The FDA said it had received reports of the muscle injury rhabdomyolysis, which can cause kidney failure or death, related to combining the cholesterol drug simvastatin and the arrythmia drug amiodarone. The agency issued a warning about the risks of combining the drugs in 2002.

All statin drugs have the risk of causing rhabdomyolysis, but the risk becomes greater when simvastatin is combined with amiodarone.

Simvastatin is the active ingredient in Merck’s Simcor and Abbott Laboratories’ Zocor, as well as an ingredient in Merck’s and Schering-Plough’s Vytorin. Amiodarone is the active ingredient in Wyeth’s Cordarone and Upsher-Smith’s Pacerone.

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