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Isentress proves effective as competitor in clinical trial

BY Alaric DeArment

SAN FRANCISCO A drug that recently received an expanded approval from the Food and Drug Administration as a first-time treatment for HIV-1 in adults is as effective as its competitor, according to results of a recent late-stage clinical trial.

Merck & Co. said that Isentress (raltegravir) kept viral load levels at nearly undetectable levels – 50 virus copies per milliliter of blood – while increasing CD4 immune cells over a 96-week period in the phase 3 STARTMRK trial comparing the drug to Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Sustiva (efavirenz). Patients received either 400 mg of Isentress with Gilead Sciences’ Truvada (tenofovir and emtricitabine) or 600 mg of Sustiva and Truvada.

“Results from the 96-week analysis of STARTMRK showed that Isentress in combination therapy was as effective as efavirenz at suppressing HIV viral load and increasing immune system function,” Orlando Immunology Center medical director Edwin de Jesus said in a Merck statement.

Results of the study were presented at the 49th Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy in San Francisco Sunday.

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Stop & Shop to offer flu shots to customers

BY Allison Cerra

QUINCY, Mass. For more than twenty years, Stop & Shop has provided seasonal flu shots as part of its Health & Wellness initiative in a continuing effort to best meet the needs of its customersduring the cough and cold season. This year, Stop & Shop will offer seasonal influenza immunizations at a reduced price to Stop & Shop card holders in the pharmacy department beginning Sept. 11 through Nov. 26 or until quantities associated with this program last.

“As part of our continued commitment to provide value to our customers, Stop & Shop is offering seasonal flu shots for $20 when customers use their Stop & Shop card,” said Jim Wonderly, VP pharmacy operations for Stop & Shop. “Unfortunately, many Americans are foregoing medical care because of increased costs, and we want to do our part by offering affordable immunizations during these challenging economic times.”

Seasonal flu shots will be administered at a reduced price in most Stop & Shop stores starting Friday, expanding to all stores in October. Immunizations will be provided by certified and trained Stop & Shop pharmacists and through Stop & Shop’s partnership with Maxim Health Systems and their trained health care professionals. The cost of the seasonal immunization is $30, but customers with a Stop & Shop loyalty card can save an additional $10. Thus, the final cost to Stop & Shop customers, with the Card, is $20.

“Last month, we introduced millions of customers to the new Stop & Shop card along with a commitment to provide them with the best possible value,” said Stop & Shop EVP Jeff Martin. “With the savings Stop & Shop is offering on seasonal flu shots, we are demonstrating that ongoing value commitment as well as a commitment to the health and wellness of ourcustomers.”

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Louisiana seeks to curb methamphetamine abuse with new legislation

BY Michael Johnsen

ALEXANDRIA, Va. Two government officials from Louisiana invited the National Association of Chain Drug Stores for a signing of a new law aimed at curbing methamphetamine abuse.

On Sept. 8, Gov. Bobby Jindal and Rep. Fred Mills invited NACDS, law enforcement and other select stakeholders to the Governor’s Mansion for a special signing ceremony for HB890 (Act 314). NACDS was instrumental in the negotiations and eventual passage of the new law which establishes a real-time pseudoephedrine reporting system once federal grants are secured.

The law also provides liability protections to pharmacy, and specifically states that no fees will be collected from pharmacies or pharmacists to operate or transmit the data to state police.

NACDS thanked both Gov. Jindal and Rep. Mills for initiating this important legislation, and for working with pharmacies to make it even better.

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