PHARMACY

HIV vaccine ‘modestly effective’ in late-stage clinical trial

BY Alaric DeArment

LYON, France A late-stage clinical trial may have turned up something that researchers have awaited for nearly 30 years: an HIV vaccine that works.

Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of French drug maker Sanofi-Aventis, announced Thursday that results of a 16,000-patient phase 3 trial conducted in Thailand over the last six years, with sponsorship from the U.S. Army Surgeon General and execution by the Thai Ministry of Public Health, indicate that a two-vaccine regimen for HIV is safe and “modestly” effective in preventing infection by the virus that causes AIDS.

According to final results, to be presented in Paris next month, the prime-boost combination of Sanofi Pasteur’s ALVAC HIV and VaxGen’s AIDSVAX B/E lowered the rate of HIV infection by 31.2% compared with placebo.

“Albeit modest, the reduction of risk of HIV infection is statistically significant,” Sanofi Pasteur SVP research and development Michel DeWilde said in a statement. “This is the first concrete evidence, since the discovery of the virus in 1983, that a vaccine against HIV is eventually feasible.”

DeWilde said further work would be needed to develop and test a vaccine suitable for licensure and worldwide use.

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PHARMACY

Pharmacy vet Mullenix joins NCPDP to help raise standards group’s profile

BY Jim Frederick

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. The not-for-profit organization charged with setting industry and professional standards to guide pharmacy practice and guard patient privacy has turned to a veteran pharmacy executive to boost its profile amid the shifting U.S. healthcare arena.

The National Council for Prescription Drug Programs revealed today it has hired Stephen Mullenix to fill the new post of SVP communications and industry relations. His primary responsibility will be “increasing awareness of the organization at local and national levels of government, as well as with industry organizations,” according to the group.

Founded in 1977, NCPDP is an accredited not-for-profit standards development organization with over 1,500 members representing virtually every sector of the pharmacy services industry. The organization develops education and standards to guide professional practices and communication through the thicket of regulatory and patient privacy issues regulating pharmacy. NCPDP members have created standards such as the Telecommunication Standard and Batch Standard, the SCRIPT Standard for e-Prescribing and the Manufacturers Rebate Standard.

Mullenix has already served NCPDP for more than a decade as a member of its board of trustees and as chairman and a co-chair of the group’s Standardization Committee. He has also served as chairman of the Iowa Pharmacy Association and VP of the Iowa Prescription Drug Corp. board, among other professional and civic appointments.

Over the past two decades, Mullenix has also served as VP managed care and professional services at Iowa-based Medicap Pharmacies and director of professional and trade relations for Covidien/Mallinckrodt Inc., among other positions.

“His focus on industry relations activities and strategic alliances will support NCPDP’s…ability to bring innovative products and services to all stakeholders in the pharmacy industry and across healthcare,” said NCPDP president Lee Ann Stember.

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Former MinuteClinic CEO becomes BOD member for MEDNETWorld.com

BY Antoinette Alexander

MINNEAPOLIS Former MinuteClinic CEO Michael Howe has been appointed to the board of MEDNETWorld.com, a provider of Nationwide Health Information Network connectivity and Health Information Exchange technologies.

“I’m pleased to join the MEDNET board of directors,” stated Howe. “MEDNET has the potential for explosive growth with $30 billion in federal stimulus money targeted to connect healthcare, reduce health care costs and improve care by sharing information electronically across the country. The stimulus funding, coupled with MEDNET’s work on the Nationwide Health Information Network, clearly position MEDNET as the healthcare interoperability expert. Located in Minnesota, one of the nation’s leaders in health care and medical technology, is a real advantage for MEDNET.”

“We are fortunate and extremely excited to have Michael Howe join the MEDNET board of directors,” added MEDNET’s CEO John Fraser. “Mr. Howe is recognized as a strategic thinker who knows how to grow companies. His expertise in expanding MinuteClinic will help us expand and replicate our current projects.”

Howe joined MinuteClinic as CEO in June of 2005. Under Howe’s leadership, MinuteClinic expanded to more than 500 clinics in 27 states. In 2006 MinuteClinic was acquired by CVS Corp. In 2007 he was appointed to the Minnesota Governor’s Healthcare Transformation Task Force. In addition to being CEO of MinuteClinic and Arby’s, Howe held executive positions with Proctor & Gamble and PepsiCo.

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