PHARMACY

Wyeth to cut 1,200 sales positions

BY Drew Buono

MADISON, N.J. Wyeth has informed about 1,200 U.S. sales representatives that their jobs will be cut as of Monday as part of new program to redesign the company in the wake of its struggling business, which has seen fewer new drugs and increased competition, according to published reports.

Wyeth spokesman Doug Petkus said the sales representatives, in both the company’s pharmaceutical and consumer health divisions, were notified Wednesday their jobs were being cut, the Associated Press reported.

In late January, Wyethin formed managers that about 10 percent of its 50,000 employees worldwide might lose their jobs by 2011 under a sweeping reorganization dubbed “Project Impact.” Last time the company made cutbacks, it reduced about 15 percent of its sales force, in 2005.

While the number this time around isn’t set in stone, the company’s “short–term goal is to achieve a reduction in force of 4 to 6 percent by the middle of the year,” according to Petkus.

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Sugar may be helpful for those with diabetes and obesity

BY Diana Alickaj

BALTIMORE Researchers have found a new treatment that may be helpful in aiding those with diabetes and obesity, and it is most unusually a sugar.

The sugar is known as tagatose, which, according to published reports, is used in Europe to sweeten candy or orange juice. It is a naturally occurring version of fructose and is derived from the dairy byproduct whey. Tagatose has been shown to stop blood sugar spiking and is currently undergoing a one-year clinical trial to see if is, in fact, helpful in managing diabetes and weight-loss.

According to the American Diabetes Association, about 20.8 million people are diabetic and 9 out of 10 diabetics with Type 2 are overweight. Many researchers, such as Phillip Levin, an endocrinologist and director of diabetes center at Mercy, hope that tagatose can become a diet drug for patients experiencing obesity, one of the leading causes of diabetes. According to Levin, “Tagatose could be another tool for damage control. A lot of dealing with Type 2 diabetes is damage control.”

Other studies have shown that tagatose, if ingested before meals, would stop the rise in blood sugar, because it is absorbed poorly and therefore affects the way the sugar is stored. According to published reports, tagatose is said to be possibly the only diabetes drug that could raise good cholesterol and act as a cell-protecting antioxidant.

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FDA to take a closer look at Singulair

BY Drew Buono

WASHINGTON The Food and Drug Administration has warned health care professionals that it is investigating possible side effects in the asthma drug Singulair.

Possible side effects of the drug, a Merck product, include behavior/mood changes, suicidality and suicide.

The agency will need up to nine months to complete ongoing evaluations about the safety of the drug.

“Patients should not stop taking Singulair before talking to their doctor if they have questions about this new information,” the FDA said. “Until further information is available, healthcare professionals and caregivers should monitor patients taking Singulair for suicidality and changes in behavior and mood.”

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