PHARMACY

U.S. influenza activity gradually increasing

BY Michael Johnsen

ATLANTA For the week ending Jan. 17, influenza activity continued to slowly increase in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday.

Widespread influenza activity was reported in Virginia and six additional states — Colorado, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina and Texas — reported regional activity (meaning widespread activity has been detected in at least two, but less than half, of the regions within the state). Localized activity was reported in 11 states; Washington, Puerto Rico and 30 states reported sporadic activity; while two states, Mississippi and Oklahoma, reported no activity.

CDC has antigenically characterized 207 influenza viruses — 142 influenza A (H1), 13 influenza A (H3) and 52 influenza B viruses — collected by U.S. laboratories since Oct. 1.

All 142 influenza A (H1) viruses are related to the influenza A (H1N1) component of the 2008-09 influenza vaccine (A/Brisbane/59/2007). All 13 influenza A (H3N2) viruses are related to the A (H3N2) vaccine component (A/Brisbane/10/2007).

Influenza B viruses currently circulating can be divided into two distinct lineages represented by the B/Yamagata/16/88 and B/Victoria/02/87 viruses. Seventeen influenza B viruses tested belong to the B/Yamagata lineage and are related to the vaccine strain (B/Florida/04/2006). The remaining 35 viruses belong to the B/Victoria lineage and are not related to the vaccine strain.

Since Oct. 1, 2008, 160 influenza A (H1N1), 30 influenza A (H3N2), and 66 influenza B viruses have been tested for resistance to the neuraminidase inhibitors Tamiflu and Relenza. In 25 states, at least one Tamiflu-resistant influenza A (H1N1) virus has been identified. To date, all influenza A (H3N2) viruses tested are resistant to adamantanes, an older class of antiviral drugs.

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American Consultants Rx donates discount Rx cards to non-profits

BY Alaric DeArment

ATLANTA American Consultants Rx has re-launched a community service project that involves donating millions of discount prescription cards to non-profit organizations, hospitals, schools, churches and others.

President Charles Myrick announced the plan Wednesday. American Consultants Rx said it was an effort to assist the uninsured, underinsured and elderly people in dealing with the high cost of prescription drugs.

The cards are accepted at more than 50,000 stores, including such nationwide chains as Walgreens, Kmart and Walmart.

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Panacos sells rights to HIV drug candidate bevirimat to Myriad for $7M

BY Alaric DeArment

WATERTOWN, Mass. Panacos Pharmaceuticals, a biotechnology company in Massachusetts, said Wednesday that it has sold the rights to the HIV drug candidate bevirimat to Salt Lake City-based drug maker Myriad Pharmaceuticals for $7 million.

The sale includes patents and patent applications related to bevirimat, product inventory, rights to regulatory filings and various contracts. Panacos said the drug, a maturation inhibitor, is the first of its class.

“Our goal has been to develop drugs with novel mechanisms of action to give people living with HIV new treatment options,” Panacos president and CEO Alan Dunton said in a statement. “In order to achieve this goal and to manage capital resources in the current market environment, we chose to sell bevirimat to Myriad Pharmaceuticals.”

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