PHARMACY

Kerr Drug CEO honored for role in healthcare field

BY Alaric DeArment

RALEIGH, N.C. — Kerr Drug CEO Tony Civello has received recognition for Health Care Hero Lifetime Achievement from the Triangle Business Journal, Kerr said Tuesday.

The journal cited Civello’s work to refocus retail pharmacy in the healthcare field and his leadership in the retail pharmacy industry.

“Pharmacists are totally underutilized in health care,” Civello said. “Now more than ever, just handing a bag of medicine to somebody and ringing them up isn’t a good use of their education. The best and most cost-effective way to improve the healthcare system is to have pharmacists and physicians working together for the overall benefit of patients.”

A graduate of the University of Pittsburgh’s school of pharmacy, Civello was in charge of the group that purchased Kerr in 1997, and since has led the chain to focus on such clinical services as immunizations and medication therapy management, while the company has expanded into such areas as specialty pharmacy and long-term care pharmacy through its Kerr Health program.

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PHARMACY

Watson confirms generic OxyContin patent challenge

BY Alaric DeArment

MORRISTOWN, N.J. — Generic drug maker Watson Pharmaceuticals is hoping to become the first to market a version of a popular opioid painkiller.

Watson said it had filed applications with the Food and Drug Administration seeking approval for a generic version of Purdue Pharma’s OxyContin (oxycodone) extended-release tablets in the 10-, 15-, 20-, 30-, 40-, 60- and 80-mg strengths.

Purdue filed suit against Watson last week in the U.S. District Courts for the Southern District of New York, the District of Delaware and the Southern District of Florida, seeking to prevent Watson from marketing its version before the expiration of five patents scheduled to expire in 2017 and 2025, according to FDA records.

If Watson wins approval from the FDA, it will be entitled to 180 days in which to directly compete with Purdue’s version. OxyContin had sales of about $3.1 billion in 2010, according to IMS Health.

In other news, Watson said it received a “favorable” ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in its efforts to market a generic version of Teva Women’s Health’s contraceptive Seasonique (levonorgestrel/ethinyl estradiol [0.15 mg/0.03 mg] and ethinyl estradiol [0.01 mg]). The court reversed and remanded for trial a March 31 summary judgment order from the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada regarding Watson’s challenge to U.S. Patent No. 7.320,969; Watson had filed an approval application with the FDA for a version of the drug containing a Paragraph IV certification, a legal assertion that the ‘969 patent, which is scheduled to expire in January 2024, was invalid, unenforceable or not infringed.

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Drug shortages continue to rise, report finds

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — For many patients, the inability to pay for drugs is enough of a problem, but what if the drugs they need aren’t available at all?

According to a new report by the Premier Healthcare Alliance, more than 240 drugs were hard to find or entirely unavailable, while more than 400 generic versions of branded drugs were backordered for more than five days. Premier said shortages had more than tripled since 2005, with the frequency and effects rising to critical levels and affecting all segments of health care.

More than three-quarters of the drugs that experienced shortages last year were sterile injectables, particularly those used in emergency situations, according to the report.

According to a Premier survey of 311 pharmacy experts at 228 retail pharmacies, infusion and oncology centers, surgery centers, long-term care centers and hospitals, 89% of respondents experienced shortages that may have caused a medication safety issue or patient-care error, 80% experienced shortages resulting in a delay or cancellation of patient care intervention and 98% experienced shortages that increased costs.

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