PHARMACY

CDC makes three recommendations in support of newest shingles vaccine

BY Michael Johnsen

LEXINGTON, Mass. — The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recently voted in favor of three recommendations for the use of GlaxoSmithKline's recently-approved Shingrix (Zoster Vaccine Recombinant, Adjuvanted) containing QS-21 Stimulon for the prevention of shingles.

"The Advisory Committee's vote to recommend Shingrix enhanced with QS-21 Stimulon on three different counts further confirms our belief in the vaccine's efficacy and its potential to extend immunization for up to 62 million adults in the United States," stated Garo Armen, chairman and CEO, Agenus. Agenus is an immuno-oncology company with a pipeline of immune checkpoint antibodies and cancer vaccines.  "Today's vote confirms the importance of ensuring that millions of at-risk adults are protected against shingles with Shingrix."

The three recommendations include:

  • Herpes Zoster subunit vaccine (Shingrix) is recommended for the prevention of herpes zoster and related complications for immunocompetent adults age 50 year and older;
  • Herpes Zoster subunit vaccine (Shingrix) is recommended for the prevention of herpes zoster and related complication for immunocompetent adults who previously received Zoster Vaccine Live (Zostavax); and
  • Herpes Zoster subunit vaccine (Shingrix) is preferred over Zoster Vaccine Live (Zostavax) for the prevention of herpes zoster and related complications.

Shingrix was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration on Oct. 20 for use in adults aged 50 years and older.

Shingles is a major public health issue in the US, impacting as many as 1 in 3 older adults over the age of 50 years. Shingles is caused by a virus called varicella zoster, which is also known as the chicken pox virus. Nearly all older adults have the varicella zoster virus dormant in their nervous system waiting to reactivate with advancing age and weakened immune systems.

The ACIP recommendations will be forwarded to the director of the CDC and the US Department of Health and Human Services for review and approval. Once approved, the final recommendations will be published in a future Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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PHARMACY

CVS Health expands safe medication disposal program into 750 pharmacies

BY Michael Johnsen

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Health on Wednesday officially introduced the expansion of the company's safe medication disposal program to include locations inside CVS Pharmacy stores, marking the Drug Enforcement Administration's National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Saturday, Oct. 28.

"Solving the opioid crisis will not be easy and it will take the concerted effort of patients, providers, payors, pharmacies, advocacy organizations, elected officials and community leaders," stated Thomas Moriarty, EVP, chief policy and external affairs officer and general counsel, CVS Health. "Our safe medication disposal program is just one of the many initiatives we have undertaken to help prevent opioid abuse and drug addiction in our communities."

The new safe medication disposal kiosks inside 750 CVS Pharmacy locations will add to the more than 800 units CVS Health has donated to law enforcement officials across the country, which have collected more than 100 metric tons of unwanted medication. Properly disposing of unused medications can reduce the risk of misuse, abuse or diversion.

CVS Health is unveiling its first disposal units inside CVS Pharmacy locations in Wilmington, North Carolina and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania this week.

"The opioid crisis is tearing apart families all over North Carolina and this nation," commented Attorney General Josh Stein of North Carolina. "Safely disposing of unneeded medications is an important and simple step we can all take to keep these drugs out of the wrong hands. I applaud and thank CVS for making it easier for us to get rid of these dangerous and highly addictive drugs."

"[As many as] 80% of heroin users start with a legal prescription drug," Attorney General Josh Shapiro of Pennsylvania said. "We appreciate this effort to end diversion of these highly addictive drugs."

Together with law enforcement, CVS Health also continues to underscore the importance of proper medication disposal this week at the Chatham County Sheriff's Office in Savannah, Ga., which has received two medication disposal units from CVS Health.

"The opioid epidemic is one of the greatest public health threats facing our country, one that took the lives of 982 Georgians just last year," said Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr. "It affects every state and has a devastating impact on our communities tearing apart families and stretching the budgets of local law enforcement and first responders as they do the difficult work on the front lines. CVS Health is continuing to find innovative ways to help in this fight, and we are very grateful to have them as a partner in our Drug Take Back efforts in Georgia."

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse of medications. Nearly 100 CVS Pharmacy locations will be among the many sites across the country where law enforcement will hold a one-day event to collect unwanted prescription medication. Patients can find a participating medication return location using this location finder tool.

CVS Health is also working to address and prevent prescription drug abuse by increasing access to the opioid-overdose reversal medication naloxone in 43 states. Additionally, through the company's Pharmacists Teach program, CVS pharmacists have volunteered to educate more than 300,000 students about the dangers of prescription drug abuse.

In September, CVS Health announced an expansion of its enterprise initiatives to fight the opioid abuse epidemic by limiting to seven days the supply of opioids dispensed for certain acute prescriptions for patients who are new to therapy; limiting the daily dosage of opioids dispensed based on the strength of the opioid; and requiring use of immediate-release formulations of opioids before extended release opioids are dispensed.

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Cardinal Health enhances patient support through new ConnectSource platform

BY Michael Johnsen

DUBLIN, Ohio — Cardinal Health Specialty Solutions recently introduced a new cloud-based patient engagement platform called ConnectSource to address an unmet need from the biopharma industry for better insights into the patient experience and treatment journey.

“Clients have consistently told us that while patient data from hub providers is widely available, visibility into bigger picture trends is challenging to access,” stated Jennifer Fillman, VP and general manager specialty services at Cardinal Health Specialty Solutions. “We saw an opportunity to raise the bar on patient services by delivering actionable insights that enable our clients to more effectively engage and influence patients, while also supporting more informed decisions about commercial strategy.”

“Digital engagement is driving opportunity across the health care ecosystem as patients want to be informed and engaged, and life sciences companies want a closer connection to their patients” said David Rosner, principal and digital life sciences leader, Deloitte Consulting. “Patient Connect is empowering life science organizations like Cardinal Health to put patients at the center of the health care ecosystem.”

Approximately half of Cardinal Health’s hub services clients have already migrated their patient services programs to ConnectSource, including several top 10 pharmaceutical companies.

Delivered through Cardinal Heath Sonexus Access and Patient Support, ConnectSource helps enhance patient support programs by streamlining processes such as benefits investigations and prior authorizations to ensure patients get on therapy faster. The new platform also provides transparency into treatment trends and critical issues, such as when patients are falling off therapy, so clients can make smarter decisions about how and when to engage patients and providers. And the offering enables integration with other hub and specialty pharmacy data sources, so clients can gain a 360-degree view of their product.

ConnectSource is Cardinal Health’s implementation of Deloitte Digital’s industry leading software ConvergeHEALTH Patient Connect. Patient Connect enables life sciences companies to provide robust patient services, support and personalized engagement through a flexible cloud software platform. Delivered exclusively as a Salesforce Managed package, Patient Connect provides consistently high-touch patient experiences across channels and enables adherence and care coordination across each patient’s full care network.  

 

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