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10/4/2002

Serostim Under Controlled Distribution

Kate Traynor

Serono Inc. recently instituted a controlled distribution program that patients must use to receive Serostim, an injectable somatropin product used for the treatment of AIDS-wasting syndrome, or cachexia.

By controlling the distribution of Serostim, Serono may be able to halt the proliferation of counterfeit versions of the product, a problem that caused the company to issue three warning notices in the past two years. The company has stated that the counterfeit material was neither made nor distributed by Serono.

Serono's "Secured Distribution Program" relies on a network of pharmacies that have contracted with the company to be exclusive distributors of Serostim. According to a press release from Serono, the system is designed "to maintain the integrity of the product and provide the ability to track each individual box of Serostim from Serono to the contracted network pharmacy."

A list of participating pharmacies is available at www.aidswasting.com. At press time, the distribution network was limited to pharmacies in 18 states and the District of Columbia. Two of the chain drugstores operate mail-order pharmacies that can ship the drug to locations throughout the United States.

Serono announced in a press release that, starting Oct. 1, all new Serostim prescriptions must be filled at a contracted network pharmacy. Refills of existing prescriptions can be dispensed at any pharmacy until the patient's course of treatment is completed.

After Oct. 31, all Serostim prescriptions should be filled at a contracted pharmacy, according to Serono.