WHO: H1N1 officially a pandemic
GENEVA, Switzerland The H1N1 influenza, popularly known as swine flu, is officially a pandemic.
The World Health Organization declared the first global flu pandemic since 1968 on Thursday, upgrading its warning level from five to six as the flu spreads in the Southern Hemisphere, which is approaching its winter season as the Northern Hemisphere approaches its summer.
As of Wednesday, the virus had been reported in 74 countries, with more than 27,700 infections and 141 deaths. On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 13,217 cases in the United States and 27 deaths.
Health experts have said that the severity of the flu thus far appears moderate, though it has persisted in the Northern Hemisphere even as the seasonal flu dies off, and they fear that it could reemerge in the coming winter in deadlier form.
Senate to vote on drug importation measure
WASHINGTON U.S. Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., has dropped his proposal to add the importation of cheaper medicines from other countries to a tobacco legislation.
Dorgan claims that under the amendment, the Food and Drug Administration would be given the power to oversee packaging, marketing and manufacturing of cigarettes and other tobacco products, Reuters reported. Additionally, U.S.-licensed pharmacies and drug wholesalers would also be allowed to import FDA-approved medicines from Canada, Europe and a few other areas for cheaper prices.
The Senate will consider the drug issue separately, Reuters said.
President Barack Obama has asked Congress for $5 million for the FDA to get started. Despite presidental backing, drugmakers are unhappy with Dorgan’s bill, claiming that with importation comes the risk for counterfeit drugs.
The tobacco bill passed the Senate on Monday with a 61-30 vote and proceeds to legislation later this week.
KV Pharmaceuticals, Purdue Pharma settle OxyContin dispute
ST. LOUIS A generic drug company has settled a dispute with a branded drug company concerning the painkiller OxyContin.
St. Louis-based KV Pharmaceutical Co. announced Tuesday that it had entered a settlement agreement with Stamford, Conn.-based Purdue Pharma in a patent infringement lawsuit that Purdue filed against KV.
Under the terms of the agreement, KV agreed that Purdue’s patents for OxyContin (oxycodone hydrochloride) are valid, enforceable and infringed. In exchange, Purdue granted KV limited rights to sell generic controlled-release oxycodone hydrochloride tablets in the United States for an unspecified period of time.