PHARMACY

FDA issues new dosing guide for children using Valcyte

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON The Food and Drug Administration has approved new dosing recommendations for children and adolescents using a drug for heart and kidney transplants.

 

The agency announced Wednesday the recommendations, designed to prevent overdosing in children taking Genentech’s antiviral Valcyte (valganciclovir), particularly among those of low weight, smaller size and very low serum creatinine.

 

 

The drug is used in children ages 4 months to 16 years to prevent cytomegalovirus disease in children who have received a kidney or heart transplant. Patients who have received organ transplants must take immune-suppressant drugs to prevent rejection, which can make them vulnerable to viral and bacterial infections. CMV is known to cause such serious diseases as pneumonia and colitis in people with weakened immune systems.

 

 

The drug also is used to prevent CMV disease in patients with AIDS.

 

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Safeway offering Fluzone High-Dose to seniors

BY Michael Johnsen

PLEASANTON, Calif. Safeway on Tuesday announced that all Safeway pharmacies in the United States now have a new high-dose flu vaccine called Fluzone High-Dose, which has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in people 65 years of age and older.

 

Adults above the age of 65 comprise 15% of the U.S. population, but account for 65% of flu-related hospitalizations and 90% of flu-related deaths, the grocer noted. Fluzone High-Dose contains the same components as regular-strength flu vaccine but provides a superior immune response in seniors.

 

 

Safeway pharmacies make it easy for everyone to protect themselves by offering flu vaccines on a walk-in basis at Safeway, Vons, Pavilions, Carrs, Dominick’s, Genuardi’s, Randalls and Tom Thumb pharmacies while supplies last. Stores that do not have a pharmacy will offer scheduled flu vaccine clinics.

 

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Pharmacists ready to take their shot at immunizations

BY Michael Johnsen

Rite Aid earlier this year announced an initiative to increase the number of qualified immunizing pharmacists on the chain’s roster before the start of the 2010-2011 cough-cold-flu season. As of last month, more than 7,000 Rite Aid pharmacists have been certified to administer immunizations across more than 3,000 Rite Aid locations.

It’s a trend that’s sweeping across retail pharmacy, especially as pharmacists are increasingly allowed to administer immunizations in some capacity. “For several years now, pharmacists and organizations like the American Pharmacists Association have been promoting pharmacist-level immunization,” said Robert Thompson, EVP pharmacy at Rite Aid. “Last year was the first year that, in all of the 31 states and the District of Columbia where [Rite Aid] operates, we were able to have pharmacist immunization,” he said.

The H1N1 pandemic that defined last year’s cough-cold-flu season helped boost awareness not only around the need for vaccines, but also where those vaccines could be administered. And that flu shot awareness was heightened with the help of public service announcements out of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to a CDC report issued in April, more Americans were vaccinated against seasonal flu during the 2009-2010 season (40% of the eligible population) than during the previous flu season (33% of the eligible population).

But administering flu shots in the convenience of a retail pharmacy setting isn’t the only way vaccines are being made available. Rite Aid plans to host flu clinics at more than 800 Rite Aid stores in October and November. But in addition to regular seasonal flu shots, pneumococcal shots for pneumonia also are being offered by Rite Aid pharmacists and at Rite Aid flu clinics, and can be administered at the same time as the seasonal flu shot.

There also are a number of vaccines available year-round at Rite Aid and other pharmacy operators, which suggests vaccine delivery in a convenient pharmacy setting may continue to gain traction among patients. “Our philosophy from the very beginning is that we are training our pharmacists to do immunizations to the extent that [each] state regulation will allow,” Thompson said. “So we train [across] the whole broad range of immunizations. We intend to provide our patients with the opportunity to receive any type of vaccination that the state regulation will allow. Flu, pneumococcal, tetanus, hepatitis, zoster, meningococcal—whatever it is, we want to be able to provide that because immunization is the best form of prevention for many serious diseases,” he said. “We also see and support the changing role of pharmacy to provide more services at the community level.”

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