PHARMACY

Epic passes 1,000-member mark

BY Alaric DeArment

COCKEYSVILLE, Md. —Despite his role in the foundation of independent pharmacy buying group Epic Pharmacies, president and CEO Angelo Voxakis takes pride in the democratic nature of the company. Its 14 board members, including Voxakis, are pharmacy owners elected to three-year staggered terms.

Traditions aside, a lot has changed at Epic over the past year. Last year, the group had 650 members. Now, that number stands at more than 1,000—a 35% increase. Part of the buying group’s growth stems from its partnership last year with Spartanburg, S.C.-based wholesale drug company JM Smith.

“They’ve been a great partner to work with, as well as our other partners,” Voxakis told Drug Store News. Additional partners include McKesson, Cardinal Health and others.

But another major change for Epic has been the Pharmacy Compliance Alert Program, or PharmCAP, which was created to help pharmacies establish compliance with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for Medicare Part D. The program already has drawn a positive response from members.

“Many of our stores have thanked us for this program,” Voxakis said.

According to PharmCAP’s Web site, the program is able to provide Medicare Part D compliance policies, training materials and certification forms for fraud, waste and abuse, and conflict of interest; forms, training materials and policies for HIPAA and other resources; and help members comply with requirements for employee background checks.

Epic also has a subsidiary, the EpicNetwork, which now serves around 1,900 stores. The network negotiates with third-party payers and ensures that member pharmacies get maximum reimbursement from their third-party contracts.

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PHARMACY

Late-stage clinical trial of Avastin fails to meet expectations, Genentech says

BY Alaric DeArment

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. A late-stage clinical trial of a Genentech drug for men with late-stage prostate cancer has failed, the biotech company announced Friday.

Genentech, part of Swiss drug maker Roche, announced that a phase 3 trial of Avastin (bevacizumab) combined with prednisone and the chemotherapy drug docetaxel did not extend the amount of time that patients survived, compared with chemotherapy and prednisone alone.

The drug already has approval from the Food and Drug Administration for treating tumors and cancers of the lungs, colon, rectum, breasts, kidneys and brain.

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Abbott’s submits supplemental approval application for Lupron Depot to FDA

BY Alaric DeArment

ABBOTT PARK, Ill. Abbott is hoping that the Food and Drug Administration will approve one of its drugs as a treatment for advanced prostate cancer.

The Chicago-based drug maker announced Thursday that the FDA accepted its supplemental approval application for Lupron Depot (leuprolide acetate) in the 45-mg strength. The drug, an injectable, works by suppressing production of testosterone for six months. It is currently available in 7.5-mg, 22.5-mg and 30-mg formulations that work for one, three and four months.

“For many patients with advanced prostate cancer, Lupron Depot is an important treatment option because it can help manage the symptoms of their disease,” Abbott VP global pharmaceutical development Eugene Sun said in a statement. “Abbott is seeking approval for a new six-month formulation to provide greater convenience and dosing flexibility to physicians and patients who could benefit form this medication.”

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