PHARMACY

George Fairweather named global CFO of Walgreens Boots Alliance

BY DSN STAFF

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens Boots Alliance on Monday announced that George Fairweather, previously group finance director of Alliance Boots, has been named EVP and global CFO, effective Feb. 20. 

Fairweather succeeds Timothy McLevish, who has served as Walgreens CFO since August 2014. McLevish advanced the company’s completion of its merger with Alliance Boots to form Walgreens Boots Alliance, serving as the initial global CFO of the combined companies. He will continue to work with Walgreens Boots Alliance as a senior advisor to the chief executive officer for finance, integration and business development. 

In this new capacity, McLevish will work with acting CEO Stefano Pessina and Fairweather to assist with the continuing integration of the financial teams, the company’s cost-reduction program and business development. 

"We welcome George to lead the Walgreens Boots Alliance global finance group as we move forward following our successful merger to create the first international pharmacy-led health, wellbeing and beauty retail enterprise," said Jim Skinner, Walgreens Boots Alliance executive chairman. "George's global experience and expertise, and service with Alliance Boots, will ensure an effective transition and the strong financial leadership the future combined enterprise will need going forward.

McLevish added: "Over the last several months, I have worked extensively with George, and have the utmost respect for him as a leader and confidence in his global experience in retail pharmacy and wholesale. This will provide a strong foundation to allow Walgreens Boots Alliance to realize the great vision of this combined enterprise.”

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Rx trends 2015: Pharmacy-based diagnostic screenings

BY Jim Frederick

NEW YORK — Will patient screenings and advanced, gene-based diagnostics become a standard and universally accepted part of community pharmacy’s service platform? Absolutely, and sooner rather than later, many industry experts predict.
 
For retail pharmacies, point-of-care testing services are “going to be bigger than immunizations,” said Michael Klepser, professor of pharmacy practice at Ferris State University. 
 
Behind Klepser’s assertion are some indisputable facts driving the embrace of pharmacy-based diagnostics by patients, pharmacists and physicians. The shrinking pool of overburdened family doctors is shifting more primary care services to pharmacists, just as the field of genomics explodes and rapid advances in diagnostic technology put cheap, easy-to-use screening tools into the hands of pharmacists. 
 
With the rapid growth of gene-specific testing services, pharmacists can simply take a swab of a patient’s cheek and send the saliva sample to a lab for genetic profiling and diagnosis. And a nanotech-enabled platform called GeneRADAR — from a company called Nanobiosym — provides almost instant diagnosis of any disease or wellness biomarker from a drop of a patient’s blood on a device roughly the size of a smart phone.
 
Meanwhile, health plan payers are on a desperate quest to cut costs with alternative-site patient screenings and more rapid diagnosis and treatment of diseases. There’s also “a greater focus by risk-based providers on getting high-cost diseases diagnosed early [for] timely evidence-based treatment,” said Doug Long, VP industry relations for IMS Health.
 
The American Pharmacists Association agrees. “Consumer demand for pharmacogenetic testing is growing, and the interpretation of results by pharmacists or prescribers regarding pharmacogenetic tests may soon become a part of routine clinical practice,” APhA said.
 

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Meningococcal vaccine Bexsero gets FDA approval

BY Ryan Chavis

SILVER SPRING, Md. — The Food and Drug Administration last week announced approval for Bexsero, a vaccine intended to prevent invasive meningococcal disease caused by Neisseria meningitidis serogroup B in individuals 10 years through 25 years of age. Bexsero is the second vaccine approved by the FDA in the past three months to prevent the disease. The first was approved in October 2014. 
 
Meningococcal disease is a life-threatening illness caused by bacteria that can infect the bloodstream, as well as the lining that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. The bacteria are transmitted person to person through respiratory or throat secretions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that close to 500 cases of meningococcal disease were reported in the United States in 2012. Out of those cases, 160 were caused by serogroup B.
 
“With today’s approval of Bexsero, the U.S. now has two vaccines for the prevention of serogroup B meningococcal disease,” said Karen Midthun, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. “The approval of these vaccines represents a major public health accomplishment toward preventing this life-threatening disease.”
 
Meningococcal disease can be treated with antibiotics to reduce the risk of death and long-term complications, but even then these outcomes are not always prevented. Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent the disease, the FDA said.
 
Bexsero is manufactured by Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics Inc.

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