PHARMACY

Certification, advanced training programs prepare pharmacy technicians for workforce

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board said that its certification and advanced training programs, developed by the Pharmacy Technician Workforce Coalition of the Triad, support the development of a highly skilled pharmacy technician workforce in North Carolina.

The coalition’s two-year associate of applied science degree training program includes curriculum that covers pharmaceutical calculations, medical terminology, computer systems and critical thinking skills. The PTCB said the program prepares a “highly trained” and PTCB-certified pharmacy technician workforce to take on new medication distribution and administrative tasks. The coalition comprises health-system pharmacy employers and local community colleges.

“Graduates of the AAS program are qualified, have an appreciation for the work pharmacists do and are eager to support and take ownership in patient care services,” Novant Health VP pharmacy services and chief pharmacy officer Michael Nnadi said. “We have seen unprecedented response from community colleges.”

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PHARMACY

Shire’s Lialda receives FDA approval

BY Alaric DeArment

PHILADELPHIA — The Food and Drug Administration has approved a drug made by Shire for treating ulcerative colitis, the British drug maker said Monday.

Shire announced the approval of Lialda (mesalamine) delayed-release tablets for the maintenance of remission in patients with the disease.

The drug was already approved for inducing remission in patients with ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory disease that affects the colon and causes chronic inflammation, sores and ulcers.

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Sanofi begins shipping flu vaccine for 2011-2012 season

BY Michael Johnsen

SWIFTWATER, Pa. — Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of Sanofi, on Monday announced that it has begun shipping its 2011-2012 Fluzone influenza virus vaccine in the United States. This shipment represents the first of approximately 70 million doses of seasonal influenza vaccine the company plans to deliver to the United States in the upcoming season.

"As the largest producer of influenza vaccine in the U.S., supplying more than 40% of the nation’s influenza vaccine, our goal is to continue supporting the fight against influenza by consistently delivering a reliable supply of influenza vaccine to U.S. healthcare providers," stated Damian Braga, SVP commercial operations at Sanofi Pasteur. "With the licensure of Fluzone Intradermal vaccine earlier this year and Fluzone High-Dose vaccine at the end of 2009, for the first time this season, Sanofi Pasteur will be offering four influenza vaccine options to help address the unique immunization needs of all age groups in support of public health recommendations for everyone 6 months of age and older to receive an annual influenza immunization."

Fluzone will be provided in two formulations: a 0.25-mL pediatric dose for children 6 months through 35 months of age, and a 0.5-mL dose for children and adults 36 months and older.

Fluzone High-Dose vaccine, which was a new vaccine available in limited quantities last season following licensure at the end of 2009, will be widely available this season for adults ages 65 years and older. Due to weaker immune systems, people ages 65 years and older often do not produce as many antibodies as younger people following influenza immunization. Fluzone High-Dose vaccine is specifically formulated to increase the antibody response in those ages 65 years and older.

Fluzone Intradermal vaccine, licensed for the first time in the United States in May, is the first influenza vaccine licensed in the United States that uses a microinjection system for intradermal delivery. Fluzone Intradermal vaccine features an ultra-fine needle that is 90% shorter than the typical needle used for intramuscular injection of influenza vaccine. Fluzone Intradermal vaccine is anticipated to be an attractive immunization option for adults ages 18 through 64 years, an age group that has among the lowest rates of immunization.

The first shipments consist of Fluzone and Fluzone High-Dose vaccines. Regular shipments to healthcare providers and their distributors will be ongoing with all healthcare providers who have placed reservations receiving initial shipments by August and completed orders by early October. Due to the more recent licensure of Fluzone Intradermal vaccine, doses of this vaccine will be limited for the 2011-2012 season and are anticipated to ship in late September through October.

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