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MEDICINE | PHARM REPORT

Rotavirus Vaccine Is Urged

March 16, 1998|SHARI ROAN

At least it's not a shot. Still, another vaccine is likely to be added to the already burgeoning childhood vaccine lineup.

Recently, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention committee voted to recommend that the first vaccine for the prevention of rotavirus gastroenteritis be used routinely in all full-term infants. Rotavirus is the most common cause of severe, and sometimes fatal, diarrhea in children.

Licensure of the vaccine is still under review by the Food and Drug Administration. The vaccine, which will probably be available later this year, would be given in three oral doses at 2, 4 and 6 months of age.

The Pill, From Pharmacist to Patient

Pharmacists in Washington state have the option of participating in the first program in the nation to distribute emergency contraceptives without a doctor's prescription.

The pilot project, a cooperative venture between the state's pharmacists and the state Board of Pharmacy along with other organizations, will allow specially trained pharmacists to dispense the pills--which are ordinary birth control pills taken in specific dosages--to women who ask for the pills. The goal of the program is to make emergency contraceptives more readily available to women. The pills must be taken within 72 hours of unprotected sexual intercourse.

So far, more than 40 pharmacies have submitted protocols to the Board of Pharmacy to obtain the prescribing privilege. Residents can call a toll-free number to find out which pharmacists offer the service.

While Washington is the only state allowing pharmacists to dispense emergency contraceptives directly to patients, other states, including California, have laws that permit pharmacists to dispense drugs without a prescription under certain circumstances.

Doctors Have Rx for Medication Ads

It's common to see prescription medications advertised on television and in consumer magazines these days. The trend isn't likely to let up, although a survey of doctors shows the majority don't like the practice, according to results published in Phamaceutical Executive. Of 5,000 physicians surveyed nationally by Nielsen Media Research and IMS America, 35% said they would like to see direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription products stopped, and 26% said they'd prefer to see a decrease in the ads. Only 9% of the doctors think it's such a good idea that drug manufacturers ought to do more consumer advertising.

About one-third of the doctors complained that the ads are misleading because they fail to educate patients sufficiently about such things as effectiveness and side effects. Twenty percent thought the ads cause disharmony in doctor-patient relationships because doctors may reject a consumer's request or have to spend more time justifying what is prescribed. Patients are more likely to ask for brand-name medications after viewing the ads, the doctors said.

Other doctors said the ads could be useful if they truly educated patients. Forty-one percent said they thought the ads both educated and confused patients.

A Spray a Day Can Keep Migraines Away

A nasal spray for relief of migraines may provide quicker relief of pain compared to other medications available, according to the manufacturer of the new Migranal Nasal Spray.

Migranal, made by Norvartis Pharmaceuticals Corp., was approved by the FDA late last year for acute migraines with or without aura. Studies show the spray worked quickly for a majority of patients and that most of the patients did not need a repeat dose during a 24-hour period after the first dose.

The spray is expected to be a good option for migraine sufferers who dislike injections for pain relief or who cannot tolerate oral medication.

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* Pharm Report, a roundup of the latest news on the medicine front, runs occasionally in Health.

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