Latelines for April 2, 2001



Survey says: Americans comfortable with self-medication

More than half of Americans (59%) say they are more likely to treat their own health condition now than they were a year ago, according to a survey conducted by Roper Starch Worldwide for the Consumer Healthcare Products Association. Other key findings of the telephone interviews, which were conducted in January among 1,505 adults over the age of 18, include the following:

• 73% of Americans would rather treat themselves at home than see a doctor; 62% said they would like to do more of this in the future.

• 96% said they are generally confident about the health-care decisions they make for themselves.

• 77% said they are more likely to take an OTC to treat common ailments than to wait and see if the problems go away on their own (69%).

• Nearly 80% reported using an OTC the past year to treat at least one of their ailments.

• 95% read directions before using a product for the first time; 89% examine labels to help choose medications; and 91% review possible side effects and interactions.

• When it comes to minor health issues, 27% consult family and friends as their top source of information, followed by physicians (20%); 7% rely on the Internet.

• More than half said they are either actively using dietary supplements or researching information about them. More than eight in 10 Americans who take dietary supplements said they are satisfied with the results.

Three new glaucoma drugs approved

The FDA has approved Allergan's Lumigan (bimatoprost ophthalmic solution, 0.03%) and Alcon's Travatan (travoprost ophthalmic solution, 0.004%) for the treatment of open-angle glaucoma or ocular hypertension in patients who are intolerant of other intraocular pressure (IOP)-lowering medications or insufficiently responsive to another IOP medication. According to Allergan, Lumigan, the first synthetic prostamide analog, achieved lower IOP targets in more patients than timolol. Alcon said its Travatan is the first to show greater effectiveness in black patients, who are four times more likely to suffer from glaucoma than those of other races. Both agents are formulated for convenient once-daily dosing. Allergan has also received approval to market Alphagan P (brimonidine tartrate ophthalmic solution, 0.15%) for elevated IOP. This agent is a new formulation with the same active ingredient as in Alphagan. According to the company, the new agent has fewer adverse events.

J&J reportedly eyes Alza acquisition

Johnson & Johnson is reportedly angling to acquire Alza Corp. for more than $12 billion in stock. Based in Mountain View, Calif., Alza specializes in drug delivery systems, such as Duragesic (fentanyl transdermal system), an analgesic patch licensed by J&J. Alza also produces several drugs, including Ditropan XL, a once-daily drug for the treatment of incontinence, and Concerta, another daily-dose drug that treats attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Talking Rx label launched

The ScripTalk Talking Prescription Label System to help patients with impaired vision was unveiled at APhA's recent annual meeting. The patient uses a handheld ScripTalk electronic scanner to read drug information automatically stored on the Rx label's microchip provided by software incorporated into the pharmacy's computer system. ScripTalk was developed by En-Vision America (, Normal, Ill.

FDA OK's dual-therapy nebulizer solution

The FDA has approved the first and only dual-therapy nebulizer solution for the treatment of bronchospasm associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in patients who need more than one bronchodilator. Dey Laboratories' DuoNeb Inhalation Solution combines albuterol sulfate and ipratropium bromide in one premixed, premeasured, unit-dose vial for nebulization. According to Dey, DuoNeb offers clear advantages, including: faster treatment time, reduced chance for medication error, lower risk of cross-contamination, and less waste. Caution is advised in patients with convulsive disorders, hyperthyroidism, diabetes, narrow-angle glaucoma, enlarged prostate, or bladder-neck obstruction.

Snyder's to buy Drug Emporium

Drug Emporium, Powell, Ohio, has entered into an agreement with Snyder's Drug Stores for the acquisition by Snyder's of a 100% equity ownership in Drug Emporium. Because of the need to restructure Drug Emporium's capitalization and certain of its financial obligations, the acquisition will be effected through a prenegotiated Chapter 11 filing by Drug Emporium. Drug Emporium owns and operates 130 stores under the names Drug Emporium, F&M Super Drug Stores, and Vix Drug Stores.

FDA approves Protonix I.V.

The first proton pump inhibitor to be available in both tablet and IV formulations has received FDA approval. American Home Products' Protonix I.V. is indicated for the short-term (seven to 10 days) treatment of GERD as an alternative to oral therapy in patients who are unable to continue taking Protonix (pantoprazole sodium) Delayed-Release tablets. Treatment with Protonix I.V. should be discontinued as soon as the patient can be treated with the tablets. Protonix I.V. must be used with an in-line filter, which will be supplied with each box.

Chiron recalls rabies vaccine

Chiron Corp. has recalled two lots of RabAvert rabies vaccine because some vials were reported broken or cracked. One lot's number is 261011, with expiration dates of 9/2001 or 9/2003. The other's number is 273011, with an expiration date of 1/2004.

Drug firms no longer dominate disease management

Disease management has shifted away from pharmaceutical companies toward independent firms and pharmacy benefit managers, according to a survey by the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development. The shift is due partly to the maturing of disease management, which has moved away from specific drugs in favor of managing all aspects of a patient's disease. While diabetes and asthma programs are the most common, the report uncovered that congestive heart failure, coronary heart disease, GERD, end-stage renal disease, and depression are also widely managed.

Tech training resource updated on Web

A new edition of the Model Curriculum for Pharmacy Technician Training has been posted on the Web as a prototype for training techs in all practice settings and geographic locations. The resource for tech educators can be downloaded free of charge at The model curriculum was developed by ASHP in collaboration with the American Association of Pharmacy Technicians, APhA, NACDS, and the Pharmacy Technician Educators Council.

FDA approves new insulin delivery system

Novo Nordisk Pharmaceuticals has received approval to market its Innovo Dial-a-Dose insulin delivery device. The compact Innovo device has a built-in memory that electronically displays the dose amount and elapsed time since the last dose. According to the company, these features enhance the patients' management of their insulin therapy by increasing compliance and by making it easy to inject insulin discreetly and adjust dosages. Innovo uses Novolin PenFill cartridges.

New guidelines urge less use of antibiotics

Most respiratory tract infections should not be treated with antibiotics, according to the new guidelines from the American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine (ACP-ASIM) published in the March 20 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine. The guidelines address the growing threat of antibiotic-resistant diseases and are a reminder that most of these respiratory tract infections are caused by viruses. The best treatment for bronchitis, sinusitis, pharyngitis, and nonspecific upper respiratory tract infections are over-the-counter cold remedies and saltwater gargles. The guidelines are intended for healthy adults and are not intended for people over age 65 or those with other chronic medical conditions.

E-Rxing may reach 50,000 physicians by 2002

As many as 50,000 physicians may be using electronic prescribing systems by next year, according to Health Industries Research Companies, a managed care trends tracker based in Santa Cruz, Calif. The e-prescribing market will be driven by physicians' need for drug reference information, by standardized claims processing, and by the desire of MCOs and employers to control drug costs. Since e-prescribing has the potential to rapidly transform formulary compliance, drug companies need to rethink their managed care marketing and contracting strategies.

Drop bovine tissue from supplements

The National Nutritional Foods Association has issued a guidance encouraging dietary supplement manufacturers to eliminate all bovine neurological tissue from their products. Consumption of brains and spinal cords from cows infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) is believed to be the source of the human brain-wasting illness known as new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD).

FDA to survey patients, physicians on DTC ads

The FDA is planning a telephone survey of patients and doctors to determine how direct-to-consumer (DTC) prescription drug advertising has affected them. The new effort is a follow-up to a patient survey conducted in 1999. The agency will gather data from 775 adults who have seen a health-care professional within the prior three months and from 500 office-based physicians who spend at least half their work time providing patient care.


Marina Marketos. Latelines. Drug Topics 2001;7:7.

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