US Pharm. 2007;32(6):27.

GSK Defends Its Record on Avandia
Washington -- Responding to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine that highlights cardiovascular problems linked to GlaxoSmithKline's (GSK) diabetes drug Avandia, Senators Max Baucus (D-MT), Chairman of the Committee on Finance, and Chuck Grassley (R-IA), ranking member of the committee, sent letters to FDA Commissioner Andrew C. von Eschenbach, MD, asking what the FDA knew about Avandia and when they learned about it. In separate correspondence, they asked GSK to respond to allegations that company executives sought to silence independent scientists about risks with the drug. GSK claims that the senators' allegations are "absolutely false." The company said that its records concerning the company's efforts to "thoroughly study the safety and effectiveness of Avandia" are "fully transparent." The company said that as a result of its "comprehensive and rigorous program of scientific analysis" of the drug's cardiovascular safety profile, Avandia was "comparable to other oral antidiabetic medicines." The company said it "welcomes the opportunity to meet with the committee and its staff to correct misunderstandings and to clarify the record."

AZ Launches Rx Assistance Program to Part D Enrollees
Wilmington, DE -- AstraZeneca (AZ) has created the AZ&Me Prescription Savings program designed to provide savings at the pharmacy counter to eligible patients enrolled in Medicare Part D. The program covers a select list of AZ drugs. To qualify, patients must have Medicare Part D coverage; be taking one or more of the qualifying AZ medications, have an individual annual income below $30,000, or be a couple whose income is less than $40,000 (with some exceptions); and have already spent at least 3% of their annual household out-of-pocket income on prescription medications. For more information, patients should call (800) 292-6363.

Global Warming Could Have an Effect on Infectious Diseases
Toronto -- Scientists attending the 107th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology warn that as the Earth's temperatures continue to rise, we can expect to see significant change in infectious disease patterns around the globe. Stephen Morse of ColumbiaUniversity said that at least one aspect of rising global temperatures can be predicted fairly accurately. In mountains of endemic areas, malaria is not transmitted above a certain altitude because the temperatures are too cold to support mosquitoes. As temperatures rise, so will the malaria line. Another key disease area affected by global warming is the spread of influenza. While influenza is a year-round event in the tropics, if the tropical air mass around the Earth's equator expands, some global areas will lose their seasons and this could lead to a rise in influenza outbreaks.

State Legislatures Pass Bills That Benefit Community Pharmacy
Alexandria, VA -- Two key pieces of legislation were passed in Iowa and Kansas that could affect the way pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) conduct their business and improve community pharmacy reimbursement under Medicaid, respectively. The Iowa bill requires more transparency from the PBMs, while the Kansas legislation restores a portion of the cuts proposed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) sees the Iowa legislation as an important step in protecting "the employers who provide drug benefits for employees and retirees, and the consumers who pay the premiums." In commenting on the Kansas legislation, NCPA Executive Vice President and CEO Bruce Roberts, RPh, commended the Kansas legislature "for including the dispensing fee provision in its budget bill."

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