PHARMACY

Pfizer suspends tanezumab trial per FDA’s request

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK Reports of worsening conditions among patients has led drug maker Pfizer to suspend a clinical trial of a treatment for osteoarthritis, Pfizer said Wednesday.

The world’s largest drug company suspended a trial of the investigational drug tanezumab at the request of the Food and Drug Administration following reports that patients taking the drug experienced a worsening of symptoms, leading to joint replacement, which had not been found in test subjects who did not have osteoarthritis.

Pfizer will suspend recruitment of new patients and dosing of existing patients. The FDA has also asked Pfizer to assess what the findings could mean for patients in clinical trials of tanezumab for other conditions, such as cancer pain, interstitial cystitis, chronic lower back pain and diabetic peripheral neuropathy.

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Orphan drug designation for Tolera’s diabetes drug

BY Alaric DeArment

KALAMAZOO, Mich. The Food and Drug Administration has granted orphan drug designation to an investigational treatment for diabetes.

Tolera Therapeutics said Tuesday that the FDA had given the designation to TOL101, a monoclonal antibody for treating recent onset immune-mediated Type 1 diabetes. The drug is designed for patients aged 16 years and younger.

The FDA gives orphan drug designation to treatments for diseases and conditions that affect fewer than 200,000 people annually in the United States; though an orphan drug still is subject to the same regulatory scrutiny as any drug, the designation waives government filing fees and provides tax credits related to development costs and other support.

“We are pleased with this designation,” Tolera CEO John Puisis said. “Clinicians and patients need an effective and safe means to modulate the immune system, particularly for juvenile diabetes patients.”

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Cephalon expands When Good Medicines Become Bad Drugs program with new partnership

BY Alaric DeArment

FRAZER, Pa. Drug maker Cephalon has started a partnership with the American Chronic Pain Association and the American Pharmacists Association to promote appropriate use of pain medications, Cephalon said Wednesday.

The partnership expands Cephalon’s When Good Medicines Become Bad Drugs program and is designed to spread awareness of the dangers of abusing prescription drugs by creating educational materials developed with the APhA and ACPA for use in a select group of pharmacies. The company did not specify which pharmacies would participate.

“Pharmacists play a key role in educating the public about prescription medicines, and the expansion of this program provides hands-on resources to support those conversations with the goal of reducing prescription pain medicine abuse,” Cephalon chief medical officer Lesley Russell said. “The When Good Medicines Become Bad Drugs program is part of our continued commitment to patient education to help ensure that prescription medications are used safely and by the appropriate patients.”

The expanded program will include a website, GoodMedicinesBadDrugs.com, which provides videos and other information about prescription drug abuse. According to Cephalon, abuse of prescription drugs now surpasses the use of most illegal drugs. A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that emergency room visits related to abuse of prescription drugs more than doubled between 2004 and 2008.

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