Legislation would expand Texas pharmacists’ vaccination ability
AUSTIN, Texas — Legislation proposed in Texas’ state legislature would expand the range of vaccines that pharmacists can administer to children.
Currently, pharmacists in the state can administer the flu vaccine to children older than 7 years, but they can only administer other Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-recommended vaccines for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis to those ages 14 years and older. The new legislation, including bills introduced in the state Senate and House, would allow pharmacists to administer those vaccines to children ages 7 years and older as well.
The proposed legislation drew praise from the Texas Pharmacy Association, which noted that the state ranks below the national average when it comes to immunization rates. The TPA cited a poll of 836 Texas voters conducted last month by Baselice and Associates showed that 93% of respondents agree that children, with parental consent, should be protected against common childhood diseases, while 87% agreed that trained pharmacists should be allowed to administer vaccines.
"Pharmacists are highly qualified and trusted healthcare providers who are in the best position to help meet the growing immunization demand and reduce the number of vaccine-preventable diseases for thousands of Texas children," TPA CEO Joe DaSilva said. "Unfortunately, there are still many immunizations that Texans do not have easy access to, including the highly contagious pertussis."
PhRMA: 907 biotech drugs, vaccines under development
WASHINGTON — Nearly 1,000 biotech drugs and vaccines for more than 100 diseases are currently under development, according to a new report.
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America released the report Monday, highlighting a genetically modified virus-based vaccine for skin cancer; a recombinant fusion protein for treating Type 2 diabetes; a monoclonal antibody for asthma; and an antisense therapy for leukemia. These were among 907 new biologics under development that included 338 treatments for cancer; 134 vaccines for infectious diseases; 71 medicines for autoimmune disorders; and 58 treatments for cardiovascular disease.
"These medicines reflect the cutting-edge research being conducted across the country by biopharmaceutical companies in order to provide new treatment options for patients," PhRMA president and CEO John Castellani said. "In order to realize the full potential of novel biologics to improve human health, it is essential to maintain public policy and regulatory environments to support the research and development that drives biomedical innovation."
Early detection of PML in multiple sclerosis patients treated with immune-suppressing drugs may improve survival
SAN DIEGO — Early detection of a deadly brain infection that sometimes arises due to treatment of autoimmune disorders with immune-suppressing biotech drugs may improve survival, according to a new study.
The study, released Sunday and scheduled for presentation at the 65th annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in San Diego, which starts next Saturday, found that early detection of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, or PML, may improve survival and disability levels.
The study examined 319 people with multiple sclerosis who had received treatment with Tysabri (natalizumab) and were diagnosed with PML; Elan Pharmaceuticals and Biogen Idec, the companies that developed and market the drug, supported the study. The study compared people who had symptoms of PML when they were diagnosed with people who did not have symptoms but were diagnosed via brain scans and spinal fluid tests. The level of disability was assessed before the PML diagnosis, at diagnoses and again six months and then one year after diagnosis. PML results from the JC virus, a virus that lies dormant in most adults, but can be activated when the immune system is suppressed due to treatment with immune-suppressing drugs or in later stages of AIDS.
A total of 21 people had no symptoms at diagnosis, while 298 people did, and preliminary data from the study suggest that people without symptoms may have improved survival and less disability than those who had developed symptoms before diagnosis.
As of Jan. 1, 2013, all of those 21 people were living, compared with 77 people with PML symptoms who had died, according to the study.