PHARMACY

Bristol to acquire Amira

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — Bristol-Myers Squibb will acquire San Diego-based Amira Pharmaceuticals for $325 million, the two companies said Friday.

Amira develops pharmaceutical drugs for treating inflammatory and fibrotic diseases, and the deal includes milestone payments of up to $150 million on top of the upfront purchase price. Amira’s drugs include AM152, an investigational treatment for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, currently in early-stage clinical trials and set to enter mid-stage trials.

“As part of the continued execution of our focused BioPharma strategy, Bristol-Myers Squibb has identified fibrotic diseases as an area of high unmet medical need that complements our research efforts in several of our therapeutic areas,” Bristol EVP, chief scientific officer and president for research and development Elliott Sigal said. “The acquisition of Amira Pharmaceuticals represents the latest example of our ‘String of Pearls’ strategy, a highly targeted set of transactions designed to enrich our innovative pipeline with potential medicines to help patients in need.”

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Good Neighbor Pharmacy expands immunization programs for pharmacists

BY Michael Johnsen

VALLEY FORGE, Pa. — Good Neighbor Pharmacy recently signed an agreement with the University of Southern California, providing a unique, international travel health program for community pharmacists, the company announced Friday.

As part of a larger immunization certification program, Good Neighbor Pharmacy members, a network of more than 3,700 locally owned and operated community pharmacies, are eligible to enroll in a training program that offers comprehensive pretravel health services in the convenient community pharmacy setting.

Pharmacists who have received certification to administer specific immunizations and vaccines in their state are eligible for this travel health program. International travel health experts at the University of Southern California School of Pharmacy will provide additional training and clinical support to participating pharmacists. Pharmacists will gather information from their patients and work with the USC Travel Medicine Assistance Program to give patient and destination-specific recommendations for vaccines, prescription and over-the-counter medications, travel supplies and counseling topics. Local pharmacists see the patient, equipped with expert information from USC Travel MAP.

“Working with USC Travel MAP gives another opportunity for our Good Neighbor Pharmacies to be a resource for their patients, which is consistent with Good Neighbor Pharmacy’s goal of becoming a healthcare destination,” Good Neighbor Pharmacy president Mike Cantrell said. “Pharmacists certified to provide immunizations, and acquire this additional training, will be providing one more important professional, convenient service for their patients.”

Good Neighbor Pharmacy members learned of the USC Travel MAP at the National Healthcare Conference and Exposition held in Las Vegas this past week.

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NACDS outlines role of pharmacy in patient care to Senate committee

BY Antoinette Alexander

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The National Association of Chain Drug Stores announced Thursday that it has submitted comments to the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging outlining the value of the pharmacist-patient interaction in helping improve health and reduce costs in the Medicare program, and urged the committee to support the Medication Therapy Management Empowerment Act of 2011, which seeks to increase access to pharmacy services for Medicare beneficiaries.

NACDS submitted its comments in conjunction with the committee’s hearing, titled "A Prescription for Savings: Reducing Drug Costs to Medicare."

"Pharmacists play a key role in helping patients take their medications as prescribed and offer a variety of pharmacist-delivered services, such as medication therapy management, to improve quality and outcomes while reducing overall costs at the same time," NACDS stated in its comments. "Community pharmacists are uniquely qualified through their comprehensive education and training to significantly reduce the problem of poor medication adherence."

"As medication-use experts, pharmacists assist patients in achieving positive outcomes from their medication therapy. Pharmacists help patients every day by counseling on proper use of medications, checking for possible side effects, drug interactions or allergies, and helping to coordinate insurance benefits," NACDS added.

In the letter, NACDS also pressed the committee to support the Medication Therapy Management Empowerment Act of 2011 (S. 274), which seeks to increase access to pharmacy services for Medicare beneficiaries. The comments also outlined how increasing the use of generic medications can promote cost savings in the Medicare program.

"Increasing the rate at which generic pharmaceuticals are substituted for their brand-name equivalents or other brand-name drugs within the same drug classes is a cost-effective way of achieving Medicare Part D savings," NACDS stated in its comments. "By providing medication therapy management, increasing medication adherence, and promoting and increasing the use of generic medications, pharmacies and pharmacists continue to increase the healthcare quality and outcomes for Part D beneficiaries, while at the same time reducing overall program costs," the comments concluded.

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