PHARMACY

FDA advisory committee recommends approval for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder drug

BY Alaric DeArment

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — A Food and Drug Administration panel has voted to recommend approval for a psychiatric drug made by Alexza Pharmaceuticals.

Alexza said the FDA’s Pychopharmalogic Drugs Advisory Committee voted 9-8 with one abstention to recommend approval of Adasuve (loxapine) for treating agitation in patients with schizophrenia and bipolar mania. The drug is administeredusing Alexza’s proprietary Staccato inhaler technology. The FDA plans to decide whether or not to approve the drug in February. While the agency takes advisory committee recommendations into account when deciding whether to approve a drug, it is not bound by them but will usually follow them nonetheless.

"We view the recommendations by the PDAC today as another step forward in the development of Adasuve," Alexza president and CEO Thomas King said. "We appreciate the advisory committee’s recognition of agitation as a serious and underappreciated symptom of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder."

More than 90% of patients with the disorders experience agitation, which starts with patients feeling uncomfortable, tense and reckless and can escalate into potentially violent behavior.


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NCPA announces pair of events to enhance independent pharmacy operations

BY Michael Johnsen

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The National Community Pharmacists Association on Monday announced a pair of events coming up in 2012.

Registration is currently open for the 2012 National Community Pharmacists Association’s ownership events. In 2012, the Pharmacy Ownership Workshops are sponsored by McKesson and in part by Pharmacists Mutual. The Pharmacy Ownership Workshops will be held Feb. 24 to 26 in Dallas; May 18 to 20 in San Francisco; and Aug. 24 to 26 in Arlington, Va.

The Pharmacy Ownership Workshops offers 19.25 hours of continuing education credits for pharmacists seeking to purchase an existing store or open up a new one, or for existing owners to polish up important management skills. An attraction for attendees will be one-on-one consultations with NCPA’s new senior director of store operations and marketing Gabe Trahan, who is an expert in layout modification, merchandising, curb appeal, pricing strategies and advertising as part of the new member benefit, Front-End Overhaul…More Traffic, More Profits!

Introduced in 2010 in response to owner feedback, NCPA’s Jumpstart Your Pharmacy Business: A Seminar for Owners is designed for current independent pharmacy owners looking to advance their business. Attendees will learn how to better analyze their finances, gain access to important tax and accounting information, understand the benefits of investing in technology, utilize merchandising tools, better handle third-party audits, enhance their marketing prowess and develop new niche services strategies. The 2012 date for the Jumpstart Seminar is July 14 to 15 in Alexandria, Va.

“While getting your business up and running is a challenge many independent community pharmacy owners overcome, the frustration of taking their business to the next level is considerable,” stated Lonny Wilson, NCPA president. “Both of these programs provide the tools to help pharmacy owners get started and tighten up operations, improve profitability and capitalize on new opportunities.”

Both of these workshops are part of the multifaceted, comprehensive NCPA Ownership Academy, which helps pharmacists navigate every step of the entrepreneurial process from buying to selling a pharmacy, as part of the association’s focus on increasing the number of independent community pharmacy owners throughout the country, the association stated.

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Walgreens, Chicago health network gift flu vouchers to local patients in need

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens and Access Community Health Network of Chicago on Tuesday teamed up in an effort to protect more people in Chicago’s medically underserved communities from the flu this season, through a new program in which Walgreens will provide more than 10,000 free flu shot vouchers for eligible Access patients.

“Heading into what are traditionally the peak months for flu activity in Chicago, this is another way we’re helping to protect more people from influenza and providing convenient access to Walgreens flu shots in medically underserved communities,” stated Ron Weinert, Walgreens VP health systems services. “Our relationship with Access demonstrates the valuable role Walgreens pharmacists are playing in health care today, coordinating care to improve patient outcomes and lower costs as part of a patient’s care team. It also underscores the importance of residents in our community being linked to a medical home.”

Qualifying individuals can receive a voucher at any of Access’ 50 community health center locations throughout the Chicago area. Vouchers are good for one flu shot at any Walgreens pharmacy or Take Care Clinic. 

In order to be eligible to receive the voucher, a patient must not have insurance coverage for a flu shot and not be able to afford one without the assistance of the voucher.

Walgreens and Access have been working together for more than a year as part of a broader coordinated healthcare relationship to improve community health and reduce the racial and ethnic health disparities in Chicagoland’s most vulnerable communities. For example, in November, Walgreens opened an on-site pharmacy at the Access Genesis Center for Health and Empowerment health center in Des Plaines, which predominantly cares for an underserved Hispanic population.

“By working closely with the pharmacy leadership at Walgreens, we at Access believe that with our shared vision, we can improve access to care, care coordination, quality and health education and transform the primary care medical home approaches at Access and serve as a national model,” noted Donna Thompson, Access CEO.

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