PHARMACY

FDA reviews heart risks of depressive disorder medication

BY Allison Cerra

WASHINGTON Federal health officials said a schizophrenia drug from AstraZeneca also works against depression, though it carries risks of sudden heart death, the Associated Press reported Friday.

Seroquel XR is used by millions of patients to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Now London-based AstraZeneca wants the Food and Drug Administration to approve the drug for depression and anxiety.

Seroquel has severe side effects, including sudden death.

The company launched two new strengths of Seroquel XR (quetiapine fumarate) extended-release tablets last month. The new strengths, 50-mg and 150-mg, are in addition to the existing 200-mg, 300-mg and 400-mg strengths.

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PHARMACY

Astellas Pharma introduces new formulation of Vaprisol

BY Alaric DeArment

DEERFIELD, Ill. Astellas Pharma US announced this week the introduction of a new formulation of a drug for treating hyponatremia.

The Tokyo-based drug maker introduced Vaprisol (conivaptan hydrochloride injection) Premixed in 5% Dextrose, a new premixed formulation. The Food and Drug Administration originally approved the drug in October.

“It is imperative to promptly address hyponatremia in emergency and hospital settings,” Georgetown University medicine and physiology professor Joseph Verbalis said in a statement. “Vaprisol Premixed in 5% Dextrose is a convenient option for quickly preparing treatment for hyponatremia patients.”

Hyponatremia is a potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when the body’s blood sodium level falls significantly below normal. It is present in about 28% of patients upon admission into acute hospital care, and another 14% acquire it while in acute care. It can result in swelling of the brain, respiratory arrest, catastrophic brain damage and death.

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Diabetes drug makers experience stock jump

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK Shares of two large drug makers focused on diabetes increased Wednesday afternoon despite declines in the drug industry as a whole, according to published reports.

The Amex Pharmaceutical Index and Amex Biotechnology Index fell, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average increased after a fall earlier in the day.

Meanwhile, however, shares of Danish drug maker Novo Nordisk and San Diego-based drug maker Amylin Pharmaceuticals increased respectively by 4%, to $49.95, and 3%, to $12.12.

Amylin had released a study earlier in the week showing that a long-acting formulation of the diabetes drug Byetta (exenatide) that has not yet been launched outperformed Merck & Co.’s Januvia (sitagliptin) and Takeda’s Actos (pioglitazone hydrochloride) in patients with Type 2 diabetes.

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