Press review


Fentanyl misuse epidemic, says Spanish expert

MADRID, 13 July (APM) - A Spanish expert and regional senior official has warned about a “silent epidemic” involving misuse of analgesic fentanyl, a drug “which is 40 times more addictive than heroin”, daily ABC reports on Friday.
Speaking at the Catholic University of Valencia Manuel Escolano, head of pharmaceutical inspection in Valencia region said the misuse of fentanyl in Spain has reached epidemic proportions. The daily quotes Escolano as saying: “This is a drug with a higher rate of mortality among all other medicines, due to side effects or overdose.”
Fentanyl is an opioid drug used to treat chronic pain. In 2011, a new formulation with faster action became available. According to Escolano the drug, which should mainly be used in patients with oncologic pain is being used incorrectly.
The difference between addiction to fentanyl and dependence of other substances is that patients' first contact with the drug takes place in the healthcare setting. That is why moves to prevent this kind of misuse need to be implemented in these scenarios, ABC reports.
Specific education on management of chronic pain is being offered to healthcare professionals, among other measures to stop this problem.

Valsartan contamination may go back six years

A review of valsartan-containing medicines by the European Medicines Agency has revealed that contamination could have started as far back as 2012, financial Cinco Días reported on Thursday. (APMHE 58822)
The financial quoted EMA sources as saying: “An investigation carried out by Chinese manufacturer Zhejiang Huahai indicates that [carcinogenic contaminant agent] N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) is linked to manufacturing processes implemented in 2012”.
Over those years, companies around the world have used valsartan manufactured by this Chinese manufacturer. It was the manufacturer itself which informed European customers using valsartan. These told the European regulators, the source told Cinco Días.
On Monday, daily El Mundo carried a story with answers to patients’ questions about valsartan with the headline: “Everything you must know about the hypertension drug withdrawn by the health ministry”.
On Thursday, medical journal Redacción Médica carried an editorial about the “bad timing” of a shortage in supplies of Mylan’s candesartan, one of the alternative drugs to treat hypertension, only days after the withdrawal of valsartan-containing medicines.
Even though the withdrawal was announced last week, there were still a number of stories, mostly in regional newspapers, from Monday to Friday.

Bayer’s Biltricide packaging missing information in Spanish

Regional consumers’ association Consumur has informed healthcare authorities that Bayer’s Biltricide (praziquantel) is being sold in community pharmacies with its leaflet only in German and English, lacking information in Spanish, daily La Vanguardia, 20 Minutos and a number of regional newspapers report on Friday.
Consumur has reported this to the health department of autonomous region of Murcia, Spanish drug agency AEMPS and Bayer itself, so that the mistake is corrected, La Vanguardia reports.
Doctors prescribing the anthelmintic drug must inform patients about the needed dose and other essential information, since the leaflet does not provide any information in Spanish. Consumur sees this as a serious problem “due to the important damage for consumers, who cannot know, other than by asking their doctor, the characteristics of the product, its composition, potential adverse effects or other relevant information, which must be included in the leaflet”, La Vanguardia adds.

Pharmaceutical firm Alvogen persuades court to stop execution

A U.S. court in Texas has suspended the execution of Scott Dozier, an inmate sentenced to death over claims that sedative midazolam was illegally obtained by prison staff, dailies ABC and 20 Minutos reported on Thursday.
ABC quoted Todd Bice, one of Alvogen’s attorneys, as saying midazolam was obtained through a pharmacy in Las Vegas instead of directly bought from the manufacturer, which would have refused to sell it for the purpose of an execution.
In April, the company wrote to a number of Texas authorities noting they do not approve of using midazolam in executions. Sandoz did the same regarding its muscle relaxant cisatracurium, ABC reported.
According to Bice, it is not a matter of opposing the death penalty, but the misuse of one product which was developed to improve and save lives, not to end them.
Medical journal Redacción Médica carries the story on Friday.

Trump criticises Pfizer's planned price hikes

The so-called war between pharma and U.S. president Donald Trump is on again after the president criticised Pfizer in a post on its Twitter account, daily El País, financials Cinco Días and El Economista and EFE agency reported on Tuesday. (APMHE 58856, 58872).



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