PHARMACY

International Pharmaceutical Federation consolidates Ebola resources for pharmacists online

BY Michael Johnsen

THE HAGUE, the Netherlands — Pharmacists can make use of a suite of resources on Ebola virus specifically designed for those who work in the community sector as of Thursday. The resources have been compiled by an emergency task force set up by the International Pharmaceutical Federation in response to requests for guidance from its members.
 
“Pharmacies are often the first point of contact with the health system for patients and people with health concerns. Given the current outbreak of EVD in some West African countries and the possibility of it spreading to other parts of the world, it is important that the whole pharmacy workforce is well informed. Being prepared is key,” stated Luc Besançon, FIP CEO and general secretary. “A vast amount of information is readily available, but we wanted to select and present in one place the most reliable and most relevant elements for pharmacies in a primary care context.” 
 
FIP believes that pharmacists can provide a crucial public health service by preventing the spread of EVD. They can inform, advise and educate their communities; promote disease prevention and infection control; and screen those with symptoms and refer suspected cases, in a safe manner, to appropriate healthcare facilities and authorities. The resources provide the essentials that pharmacists need to perform these tasks, and the content can be freely used and adapted for national use. 
 
All these resources are now available on a dedicated webpage FIP.org/ebola and FIP will endeavour to make these materials available in different languages, the organization noted.
 
“Since the outbreak, community pharmacists have been faced with the challenge of accessing reliable information as well as the risk of infection," noted Mohamed Conteh-Barrat, regulatory officer at the Pharmacy Board of Sierra Leone. "A key lesson we have learned is the need to ensure that correct and consistent information is made available to pharmacists in a timely manner. The internet is a potential source of information but also of misinformation," he said. "Conflicting information can create doubt and confusion, which must be avoided in emergency situations like these. And to avoid delays as a result of missing pieces of essential information, it is paramount that all the information is readily accessible from one place.”
 

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DSN discusses Vaccine Central with Rite Aid’s Robert Thompson

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK — Rite Aid earlier this week introduced Vaccine Central, a multifaceted online platform designed to help raise awareness about vaccines and promote vaccinations. Drug Store News caught up with Rite Aid's Robert Thompson, EVP pharmacy, to discuss the impact Vaccine Central will have on raising immunization awareness. 
 
DSN: What are the key components of the Rite Aid Vaccine Central site that you launched this week?
 
Thompson: The purpose for the website is to provide consumers with a resource where they can go and get answers to their immunization questions. We don’t think anything like that exists, at least in the way that we’re putting it together. We recognized some time ago that consumers were often confused about vaccinations, about immunization requirements, and we really felt like with the decline in immunization rates in the United States, that we needed to do something about it. And that’s why we created Vaccine Central. 
 
So within [Vaccine Central], you can do a personal evaluation. You fill out personal information like age, gender, health condition, certain behaviors like do you smoke and if you know your vaccine history, you plug that in, and then [the site] gives a customized recommendation. The evaluation tool, you can do that for yourself or for anyone of your family members at your convenience anytime and determine what your immunization needs are. Once you do that, you print it out, you can take it with you to your Rite Aid pharmacy and talk to your Rite Aid pharmacist about it. Or you can take it to your physician and review it with your physician. It’s all about helping to educate consumers about the importance of getting immunizations, as well as debunking myths or concerns people may have about immunizations.
 
There’s very high-quality immunization information on the site. You can track your personal immunization history. You can look up immunizations by state, which are available at Rite Aid, [and] also the minimum age requirements. All of the consent forms are there, so if you decide to get a flu shot today, you’re ready for the pharmacy technician to process the information and get the pharmacist ready to process your shot. We think this is really cool because it’s available online, it’s available on mobile and of course in store we can access it as well. 
 
We’re just really excited that we’re not only doing something good for Rite Aid customers, we’re doing something really good for any consumer in the United States that might have a question about immunizations. Doctors are trying really hard to get people to get vaccinated. As part of the healthcare provider community, if we can help people get their immunizations either from a Rite Aid pharmacist or from their physician, we think we’re doing something good for the world.
 
DSN: How are people directed to the site?
 
Thompson: There’s advertising from our website, and we also have in-store materials supporting it. 
 
DSN: With 1-in-4 women getting their flu shot in the drug store environment, how are immunizations at pharmacy benefitting the overall healthcare system?
 
Thompson: I am glad you asked that question. Pharmacists nationwide have only in recent years been able to provide vaccinations. It’s been one of the greatest things to have happened to improve overall access to health care. If you think about 10 years ago, most people had to go to a doctor’s office or go to a public health clinic to be able to receive a vaccination. They weren’t able to walk in, they had to get an appointment. Community pharmacists have really rallied behind their clinical role in providing immunizations. I know our pharmacists have worked very hard to make it as convenient as possible for someone to get an immunization. Our pharmacists love being immunizers. They see themselves as providing not only a great customer service but a great clinical service. We just become more and more excited about our pharmacists being able to deliver important clinical services like this. 
 
Consumers are more and more comfortable with their pharmacist providing an immunization. They’ve had great experiences. If you think about the goals of healthcare reform — which is to improve quality, improve access and lower cost — immunization is perfect because having all of these pharmacists available to provide immunizations provides great access [and] it’s convenient. We’re delivering these vaccines all day every day. And we know that that’s helping to prevent disease. And if we prevent disease, we’re lowering overall healthcare costs, and we’re lowering the barriers to access. 
 
DSN: What is the key message to come out of the launch of Vaccine Central and the accompanying Rite Aid survey?
 
Thompson: As a pharmacist myself, what’s important to me is helping our communities improve their overall health. And immunization is one key way to do that. Every year, 50,000 adults die in the United States from a vaccine-preventable disease. That’s a true tragedy. So if you think about that and our role in improving overall community health, the key message here is that it’s a series of tools to raise awareness of vaccine-preventable diseases. We’re not only working with the customer who is coming into our stores, we’re also putting these tools out there that are easy for consumers to use to drive consumer awareness and engagement and help improve overall community health. 

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Teva intros new dosage strength for generic Focalin XR

BY Ryan Chavis

NORTH WALES, Penn. — Teva Pharmaceuticals announced the introduction of dexmethylphenidate hydrochloride extended-release capsules, CII, in a 5-mg strength — the generic equivalent to Focalin XR capsules from Novartis. In addition to this new strength, Teva now offers the drug in 5-mg, 15-mg, 30-mg and 40-mg dosages. 
 
"Our customers count on Teva for a continuous supply of new generic products,” said Maureen Cavanaugh, SVP, U.S. Generics Sales and Marketing. "We are pleased to offer this new strength of dexmethylphenidate HCl extended-release capsules to our customers and patients."

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