TRENTON, N.J. – July 9, 2008, – More than 800 pharmaceutical jobs will be leaving New Jersey starting in August.

Most of the job cuts and transfers are part of major previously announced restructurings at Johnson & Johnson and Schering-Plough Corp. This week, the companies specified how many of those jobs would be lost at New Jersey locations.

Schering-Plough, based in Kenilworth, is cutting 500 jobs. New Brunswick-based J&J is eliminating 22 jobs at its Ortho Biotech unit in Bridgewater, shifting another 260 to its Centocor unit in Horsham, Pa., and cutting another 267 Ortho Biotect jobs outside New Jersey. Centocor and Ortho Biotech are consolidating their operations.

Both J&J and Schering-Plough face slumping sales for key drugs.

Meanwhile, Abbott Laboratories in Parsippany is cutting 83 jobs.

According to an article published in the Archives of Neurology (2008;65:716-723), a study was performed to determine whether concentration of serum urate, a purine metabolite and potent antioxidant, that has been linked to a reduced risk of Parkinson disease (PD), could predict prognosis in PD. The study used data from The Parkinson Research Examination of CEP-1347 Trial (PRECEPT) clinical trial, which investigated the effects of a potential neuroprotectant on rates of PD progression in 804 subjects with early PD; average follow-up time was 21.4 months. The primary study end point was progression to clinical disability sufficient to warrant dopaminergic therapy. Change in striatal uptake of iodine I 123–labeled 2-beta-carbomethoxy-3-beta-(4-iodophenyl)tropane ([123I]β-CIT), a marker for the presynaptic dopamine transporter, was assessed with linear regression for a subset of 399 subjects. Results showed that the adjusted HR of reaching end point declined with increasing baseline concentrations of urate; subjects in the top quintile reached the end point at only half the rate of subjects in the bottom quintile (HR, 0.51; P for trend < .001). This association was markedly stronger in men (HR, 0.39; P for trend < .001) than in women (HR, 0.77; P for trend = .33). The percentage of loss in striatal [123I]β-CIT uptake also improved with increasing serum urate concentrations (overall P for trend = .002; men, P = .001; women, P = .43). According to the authors, the findings identify serum urate as the first molecular factor directly linked to the progression of typical PD and suggest that targeting urate or its determinants could be an effective disease-modifying therapy in PD.

Health care applications of autoidentification technologies, such as radio frequency identification (RFID), have been proposed to improve patient safety and also the tracking and tracing of medical equipment. However, electromagnetic interference (EMI) by RFID on medical devices has never been reported. As a result, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (2008;299:2884-2890) was performed to assess and classify incidents of EMI by RFID on critical care equipment. Without a patient being connected, an assessment was made of EMI by 2 RFID systems (active 125 kHz and passive 868 MHz) under controlled conditions during May 2006, in the proximity of 41 medical devices (in 17 categories, 22 different manufacturers) at the Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam. Assessment took place according to an international test protocol. Incidents of EMI were classified according to a critical care adverse events scale as hazardous, significant, or light. Results showed that in 123 EMI tests (3 per medical device), RFID induced 34 EMI incidents: 22 were classified as hazardous, 2 as significant, and 10 as light. The passive 868-MHz RFID signal induced a higher number of incidents (26 incidents in 41 EMI tests; 63%) compared with the active 125-kHz RFID signal (8 incidents in 41 EMI tests; 20%). The passive 868-MHz RFID signal induced EMI in 26 medical devices, including 8 that were also affected by the active 125-kHz RFID signal (26 in 41 devices; 63%). The median distance between the RFID reader and the medical device in all EMI incidents was 30 cm (range, 0.1-600 cm). The authors concluded that in a controlled nonclinical setting, RFID induced potentially hazardous incidents in medical devices and that implementation of RFID in the critical care environment should require on-site EMI tests and updates of international standards.