PHARMACY

AstraZeneca’s vandetanib receives approval from FDA

BY Alaric DeArment

SILVER SPRING, Md. — The Food and Drug Administration has approved a drug made by AstraZeneca for treating a rare form of thyroid cancer, the agency said.

The FDA announced the approval of the daily pill vandetanib for late-stage medullary thyroid cancer in patients whose disease is growing and causing symptoms but who are ineligible for surgery.

Medullary thyroid cancer involves specific cells found in the thyroid gland and can occur spontaneously or be part of a genetic disease. There currently are no FDA-approved treatments for this cancer.

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PHARMACY

As Earth Day approaches, NCPA promotes Dispose My Meds program

BY Michael Johnsen

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — In anticipation of Earth Day 2011 on April 22, the National Community Pharmacists Association is encouraging community pharmacists to demonstrate their role as a respected and knowledgeable resource on all aspects of medications, from dispensing to disposal, the association announced Thursday.

To assist pharmacists in conveying that message, NCPA is offering to its members, discounts, product displays, as well as communications and marketing materials and event ideas as part of its successful prescription disposal program for consumers at the website DisposeMyMeds.org.

“On Earth Day and every day, community pharmacies that voluntarily offer drug disposal services for their patients have an opportunity to build their businesses while building better relationships with patients as they discuss their medication needs,” stated Robert Greenwood, NCPA president. “Pharmacists place a premium on monitoring what prescription drugs are taken, how they interact with other drugs, how effective they are and what side effects they might cause as way to ensure patients are getting the maximum results,” Greenwood said. “The Dispose My Meds program is another avenue to allow pharmacists to apply their clinical patient care knowledge and to promote proper adherence to the patient’s prescription medication regimen.”

The NCPA Dispose My Meds program was launched in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of Earth Week in April 2010 via a partnership with NCPA and Sharps Compliance in order to address two pressing issues in drug diversion and environmental contamination. As part of the program, NCPA members receive nearly 20% in discounts with shipping included on the products from the Sharps TakeAway Environmental Return System, along with free customizable marketing materials and a listing on the companion consumer website, DisposeMyMeds.org.

To date, more than 1,200 pharmacies in 48 states are participating in the program and have collected some 25,000 pounds of unused or expired noncontrolled medications, NCPA stated.

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NCPA commends CMS’ decision to delay ‘short-cycle’ rule for LTC pharmacies

BY Allison Cerra

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced this week it would delay implementation of its proposed Medicare Part D long-term care “short-cycle” rule for one year.

The decision was applauded by the National Community Pharmacists Association, which has long advocated the delay of the short-cycle implementation, which now will go into effect Jan. 1, 2013. NCPA also said the decision would ease the requirements on how LTC pharmacies account for dispensed but unused medications, in addition to requiring that LTC pharmacies dispense solid oral doses of brand-name medications in 14-day-or-less supplies, compared with the more "onerous" seven-day-or-less mandate in CMS’ proposed rule, the lobbying group said.

“Medicare officials are doing the right thing for patients and the long-term care pharmacists who serve them,” said NCPA EVP and CEO Douglas Hoey. “Pharmacists are committed to working with Medicare and other health plans to reduce costs, while maintaining quality care. However, there is no creditable evidence that this proposed move to shorter dispensing cycles would reduce costs, and in the end, we fear it could actually increase costs for taxpayers. That’s why a broad coalition of lawmakers and healthcare providers is urging CMS to hold off on the program to allow for data gathering necessary to implement this program intelligently.”

NCPA formed a long-term care division in 2010, which is active in seeking acceptable outcomes for such critical issues as short-cycle drug dispensing and nurse-as-agent.

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