PHARMACY

FDA approves Mylan chemoprotective agent

BY Alaric DeArment

PITTSBURGH — The Food and Drug Administration has approved a generic drug made by Mylan for cancer patients.

Mylan announced Monday the approval of dexrazoxane for injection, a generic version of Pharmacia & Upjohn’s Zinecard. The drug is a chemoprotective agent, used to protect healthy tissue from cancer drugs.

Various versions of the drug had sales of $3.4 million during the 12-month period ended in September, according to IMS Health.

 

 


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Walgreens’ Kang joins National Committee for Quality Assurance board

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. — The National Committee for Quality Assurance on Monday named Jeffrey Kang, Walgreens SVP pharmacy, health and wellness services and solutions, to its board.

NCQA is a private nonprofit organization that accredits and certifies a wide range of healthcare organizations. The group also recognizes clinicians and practices in key areas of performance. NCQA’s Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set is the most widely used performance measurement tool in health care, the committee stated.

The NCQA board governs NCQA and is composed of 15 members and the NCQA president. The board includes clinicians, public policy experts, purchasers, consumer advocates and leaders of health systems. Its multistakeholder perspective supports a focus on improving healthcare quality by emphasizing transparency and delivery system reform.

"Jeff Kang’s thoughtful leadership and broad experience improving quality make him a great addition to the NCQA board," stated NCQA president Margaret O’Kane. "I look forward to working with him, and I know he will make vital contributions to NCQA’s governance."

In his current role contributing to Walgreens’ mission to help its customers live well, stay well and get well, Kang is responsible for the company’s overall pharmacy, health and wellness strategy; outcomes and analytics; Take Care Clinics and worksite health-and-wellness centers; health systems solutions group; and 340B program.

Before joining Walgreens in October 2011, Kang was chief medical officer at CIGNA from 2002 to 2011, where he was responsible for the company’s health strategy and policy for its medical, pharmacy and behavioral products. Previously, Kang joined the Clinton Administration in 1994 as a White House fellow, and then subsequently served as the chief clinical officer for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services from 1995 to 2002. While with CMS, he was responsible for Medicare technology assessment and coverage policy, setting quality standards for Medicare participating hospitals and facilities, and leading CMS’ quality measurement, improvement and patient safety activities.

Kang is an internist and geriatrician whose career began in 1984 as the executive director of the Urban Medical Group — a nonprofit, private group practice specializing in the care of the frail elderly and disabled.

Kang received his MD from University of California at San Francisco and his MPH from the University of California at Berkeley. He received his clinical training at Boston’s Beth Israel Hospital and remained on the clinical faculty at Harvard Medical School for more than 10 years. In addition to his duties at Walgreens, Kang currently is a board member of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society.

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Study: Metformin may reduce risk of cancer

BY Allison Cerra

EAST LANSING, Mich. — A drug commonly used to treat Type 2 diabetes may reduce the risk of diabetes-associated cancers, including breast cancer, according to a new study.

The research, led by Michigan State University pediatrics professor James Trosko and colleagues from South Korea’s Seoul National University, believed that cancers originated from human stem cells and that both natural and man-made chemicals enhanced the growth of breast cancer cells in particular. The researchers tested this concept by growing miniature human breast tumors, or mammospheres, which are activated a certain stem cell gene. The team found that estrogen and the chemicals caused the mammospheres to increase in numbers and size; however, the numbers and size of the mammospheres were dramatically reduced when metformin was added.

"People with Type 2 diabetes are known to be at high risk for several diabetes-associated cancers, such as breast, liver and pancreatic cancers," Trosko said. "While metformin has been shown in population studies to reduce the risk of these cancers, there was no evidence of how it worked.

"While future studies are needed to understand the exact mechanism by which metformin works to reduce the growth of breast cancers, this study reveals the need to determine if the drug might be used as a preventive drug and for individuals who have no indication of any existing cancers," he said.

The study was published in the most recent edition of PLoS One.


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