PHARMACY

Late-stage trial: Telaprevir-based treatment aided cure of hepatitis C in patients

BY Alaric DeArment

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. A majority of people taking an investigational treatment for hepatitis C were cured after taking it with two other drugs for the disease, according to results of a late-stage clinical trial released Wednesday.

Vertex Pharmaceuticals said 75% of people chronically infected with genotype 1 hepatitis C virus who had not received previous treatments were cured after receiving a 12-week combination regimen of the drug telaprevir, followed by treatment with pegylated-interferon and ribavirin alone. Sixty-nine percent of people who took telaprevir for eight weeks followed by pegylated-interferon and ribavirin alone were cured, while 44% of those in the control group who took only pegylated-interferon and ribavirin were cured. Pegylated interferons include Genentech’s Pegasys (peginterferon alfa-2a) and Merck’s PegIntron (peginterferon alfa-2b), while ribavirin is available as a generic.

“These first phase-3 results are important for people with hepatitis C, as they represent a potential new era of therapy where doctors may be able to use direct-acting antiviral medicines to improve treatment and help patients potentially avoid life-threatening liver-related consequences associated with chronic hepatitis C,” trial investigator and Weill Cornell Medical College Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology chief Ira Jacobson said.

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PHARMACY

CVS Caremark recognized for family-friendly benefits

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. CVS Caremark has landed on Conceive magazine’s annual “50 Best Companies” list, a list of employers who are leading the way in corporate America with their generous family-building benefits, despite the challenging economy.

“At CVS Caremark one of our goals is to be the best company to work for and we have implemented many programs and initiatives to help us achieve that goal,” stated Lisa Bisaccia, SVP and chief human resources officer for CVS Caremark. “We have developed our benefits package to support our employees — dreams of starting a family in a variety of ways. Whether our employees give birth or choose to adopt, we have benefits available to help support them throughout their journey.”

Released in the summer 2010 issue of Conceive, and available at ConceiveOnline.com, the list highlights U.S. companies that offer their employees the best benefits for starting or adding to their families. The rankings are based on the company’s fertility and adoption coverage, including benefits for assisted reproductive technology and in vitro fertilization, infertility prescription drugs, paid parental leave and cash reimbursement towards adoption expenses.

CVS Caremark offers many family-friendly benefits, including financial adoption assistance, paid and unpaid leave for birth and adoptive parents, and coverage for infertility diagnostic procedures, fertility medications and assisted reproductive technologies up to $20,000 per employee.

Most employers, however, still have a long way to go, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. The percentage of companies that include IVF coverage has dropped from 28% in 2006 to 23% in 2009, and the percentage that offer adoption assistance has dropped from 22% in 2006 to 10% in 2009.

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PHARMACY

New college pharmaceutical care lab ‘simulates community pharmacy practice environment’

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK A pharmacy school now has its own state-of-the-art pharmaceutical care laboratory, thanks to Duane Reade.

Long Island University’s Arnold & Marie Schwartz College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences opened the Duane Reade Pharmaceutical Care Laboratory, which “simulates a modern community pharmacy practice environment,” said Stephen Gross, dean emeritus of the College of Pharmacy, who secured the funds from Duane Reade.

“It provides important knowledge and skills that will better prepare our students for the advanced practice experiences that students will get when they are placed in actual community pharmacies,” Gross said.

Equipped with a computerized, fully operational prescription department, the new lab features semi-private and private counseling spaces and is being used in a variety of courses, including classes in pharmacotherapeutics and communication skills in pharmaceutical care.

A dedication ceremony for the laboratory was held earlier this spring. In addition to Gross, participants in the ceremony were University president David Steinberg, University VP Jeffrey Kane, Brooklyn campus provost Gale Stevens Haynes and assistant pharmacy dean Lorraine Cicero. Duane Reade was represented by SVP pharmacy operations Frank Scorpiniti.

“Duane Reade has been particularly generous to the college, providing funding for this laboratory, underwriting innovative community pharmacy residency programs and supporting many student-run events and activities,” Gross said.

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