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Medicines update

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Medicines update

Fentanyl injuries on the rise

Accidental exposure to fentanyl patches by children aged under five years has increased, experts warn.

NPS MedicineWise says prescribing of fentanyl patches, to deliver higher doses of some opiates through the skin as chronic pain relief, has increased in Australia over the last decade, and accidental exposure by young children has increased accordingly.

Health professionals are being reminded of the need to educate people about the appropriate use of and disposal of fentanyl patches.

NPS Medicines line manager, Sarah Spagnardi says “infants and young children are at risk of accidental exposure to the opioid patches by touching and tasting. The patches are dangerous if put in the mouth or if they accidentally attach to a child’s skin.”

“Also, the risk of a partially detached patch being transferred from an adult to an infant is high, if young children are held by adults or sleep near each other.”

The risk of adverse effects in children increases with dose and can include convulsions, extreme sleepiness and cardiac arrest.

Click here to see the article in NPS health professional publication Health News and Evidence.

Indian firm buys GSK opioids business

Sun Pharmaceutical Industries, India's largest drugmaker by sales has moved to strengthen its pain management portfolio by purchasing GlaxoSmithKline's Australian opiates business.

The business consists of analgesics made from raw materials found in opium poppy plants, and includes two manufacturing sites in the states of Tasmania and Victoria.

Financial details of the deal were not disclosed, according to Reuters.

Glaxo supplies a quarter of the world's medicinal opiate needs from poppies grown in Tasmania, according to the company website. The company's Australian opiates business brought in revenue of $89 million (US$69.63 million) in 2013.

Glaxo's decision to part with the opiates business comes as Tasmania's poppy industry is facing a tough crop and the United Nations is expected to cut the state's poppy crop area this week.

The business employs 185 staff, including 155 in Victoria state and 30 in Tasmania state. Sun Pharma said it would hire all employees from both sites.

Both companies said they expect to close the deal by August.

2015 flu vaccines announced

The TGA has released its list of registered vaccines for the 2015 influenza season.

This year will be the first that two categories of influenza vaccines will be available.

These are: vaccines that protect against three strains of the virus (trivalent influenza vaccines), and vaccines that protect against four strains of the virus (quadrivalent vaccines).

The 2015 National Seasonal Influenza Immunisation Program will commence on 20 April, instead of the usual start date of 15 March. The start date has been put back due to a double strain change from the 2014 influenza vaccine which has led to manufacturing delays.

Nine vaccines have been registered. Click here to see the full list, and which age groups each are for.

For more information on vaccines and children, click here.

New endometriosis treatment

Bayer Australia Ltd has introduced Visanne (dienogest), a prescription medicine for the treatment of women with endometriosis.

Visanne is now widely available for prescription for women with endometriosis, in consultation with their doctor, to help alleviate the signs and symptoms of endometriosis, a condition that affects up to one-in-ten Australian women every year.

Initially registered with the TGA in 2010, Visanne was not officially launched following feedback from doctors about the need for longer-term data that would reflect real-life usage of the treatment

Following the publication of long-term clinical data, and at the same time the interest shown in the product by women affected by endometriosis, Bayer expedited the process to bring Visanne to Australia as quickly as possible.

It is taken as a once daily 2mg tablet. For more information, see here.


 

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