PHARMACY

New antidepressant drug now available in the United States

BY Alaric DeArment

BRIDGEWATER, N.J. A new therapy for treating major depressive disorder in adults has become available in the United States, the drug’s manufacturer announced Tuesday.

Sanofi-Aventis U.S. said that Aplenzin (bupropion hydrobromide) extended-release tablets differed from other branded and generic bupropion antidepressants because it provides a unique HBr salt extended-release formulation.

“For patients who show little clinical improvement on lower doses of bupropion, there is a need to take higher doses to treat major depressive disorder,” Duke University Medical Center consulting professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences Prakash Masand said in a statement. “Aplenzin offers patients and physicians an alternative option which only requires one tablet, once a day at the highest bupropion dose. This provides a simple, convenient option for patients that currently need to take two to three tablets daily.”

The Food and Drug Administration originally approved the drug in April 2008. Sanofi licensed the drug from Biovail Corp. in December and markets it in the United States, including Puerto Rico.

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PHARMACY

CVS Caremark expands partnership with Google Health

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. CVS Caremark has expanded its partnership with Google Health so patients can now securely download their prescription and medication histories to their Google Health Account from CVS.com.

CVS Caremark has been a Google Health partner since it was launched in May 2008. Consumers using CVS Caremark for pharmacy benefit management services can already store, organize and manage their prescription history information online using Google Health. In addition, patients who receive treatment at MinuteClinic can also securely import their visit summaries to their Google Health Accounts.

“By enabling patients to download their prescription information directly into their personal health record, we are helping to close the gap in today’s fragmented health care system and provide a full view of a patient?s health,” stated Helena Foulkes, EVP at CVS Caremark.

To use the tool, customers of CVS/pharmacy must first be signed up for the Prescription Management feature on CVS.com. This feature also allows registered customers to manage their prescriptions online including ordering refills, choosing pickup locations, requesting prescription renewals and receiving alerts on generic alternatives. In order to maintain patient privacy, the consumer making the request for information will need to be authenticated on the CVS.com Web site before any data is shared with Google Health.

“With CVS/pharmacy now integrated on Google Health in addition to our other pharmacy and PBM partners, we estimate there are more than 100 million Americans who can get access to their prescription history online and securely download it to Google Health,” stated Sameer Samat, director of product management, Google Health. “This is good news, because having a current list of all your medications in one place helps you doctor, pharmacist, hospital and other care providers do a better job of taking care of you.”

Patients can sign up for Google Health by visiting www.google.com/health.

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FDA posts, removes briefing documents regarding Seroquel XR

BY Alaric DeArment

WILMINGTON, Del. The Food and Drug Administration posted and then removed briefing documents on its Web site for the Psychopharmacologic Drugs Advisory Committee meeting Wednesday.

The meeting concerns an application that drug maker AstraZeneca submitted for an additional use of the drug Seroquel XR (quetiapine fumarate) as a treatment for major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder.

The company said it understands that some people accessed the documents before their removal, and that it wishes to ensure all investors have access to the information contained in the previously released FDA briefing materials. For that reason, it has posted the documents, as well as AstraZeneca briefing documents, on its own Web site.

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