PHARMACY

Biodel elects new board chairman

BY Allison Cerra

DANBURY, Conn. — A biopharmaceutical company that specializes in diabetes treatments has appointed a new board chairman.

Biodel said that effective immediately, Brian Pereira, who has served on the drug maker’s board since 2007, will become chairman. Current chairman Charles Sanders, who served as chairman since March 2010 after joining the board in August 2006, will continue to serve as a board member, Biodel said.

"I thank the board for their confidence in me as Biodel makes important steps forward in its development program," Pereira said. "I join the board in thanking Sanders for his guidance and leadership."

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Report: FDA scientist charged with insider trading

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — One could say that a job with the Food and Drug Administration would be the perfect way to get information about upcoming drug approvals and use it to profit handsomely from buying stock in the companies that manufacture the drugs before the information reaches the public.

Of course, the Securities and Exchange Commission would consider that illegal insider trading, as one FDA scientist recently discovered.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the SEC charged FDA chemist Liang Chengyi with insider trading on 19 publicly traded companies. The SEC alleged that Liang, an FDA employee since 1996, used confidential information about drug approvals to trade on stocks before it was officially announced, making more than $3.6 million in profits.

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Rite Aid gears up to vaccinate patients ages 50 years, older for shingles

BY Alaric DeArment

CAMP HILL, Pa. — A decision by the Food and Drug Administration to lower the age at which patients can receive a vaccine for shingles opens the door for pharmacists to administer it to more patients.

Rite Aid said Tuesday that pharmacists at more than 2,100 of its stores now could vaccinate patients ages 50 years and older with Merck’s Zostavax (zoster vaccine live) thanks to the FDA’s approval of the vaccination for patients in that age group. Previously, it was only approved for patients ages 60 years and older.

“The new FDA recommendation means that Rite Aid pharmacists can now help a much wider range of patients protect themselves from this painful nerve disease,” Rite Aid EVP pharmacy Robert Thompson said. “The vaccine can often be administered to walk-in patients, making it an easy decision to get vaccinated against shingles.”

Shingles is a painful disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. While symptoms of chickenpox disappear in most children after a week or so, the virus, a form of herpes virus, remains in the nerve cells. Later in life, a compromised immune system or old age can reactivate the virus, resulting in shingles.

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