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Linking with vaccine specialist, GNP rolls out flu shot program for pharmacists

BY Jim Frederick

VALLEY FORGE, Pa. AmerisourceBergen’s retail pharmacy network, Good Neighbor Pharmacy, has allied with influenza vaccination specialty company CSL Biotherapies to provide community pharmacists with a promotional immunization kit to help increase the awareness of the importance of immunizations and vaccines.

The materials, which consist of in-store posters, prescription bag stuffers, buttons and flyers/incentives for companion sales items, will help to trigger conversations between patients and pharmacists about the importance of immunizations, according to GNP.

The project is co-sponsored by CSL, a subsidiary of a top global manufacturer of influenza vaccine, and by GNP, a network of more than 3,000 independently owned pharmacies serviced by AmerisourceBergen [ABC].

The campaign carries the tagline “Give It A Shot – Your Health Is Worth It.” Pharmacists in the GNP network are being offered an intensive education course to administer immunizations. Depending on their local regulations, they’ll be able to give flu shots and other immunizations on completion of the course.

“Good Neighbor Pharmacy is taking an active role in promoting good health with the immunization kit and we are pleased to partner with CSL Biotherapies,” said David Neu, ABC senior VP retail sales and marketing. “The community pharmacist plays an important role in taking care of your health; and our immunization program arms the pharmacist with one more tool to protect their patients.”

CSL is offering thimerosal-free flu vaccine in single dose, pre-filled syringes for the 2009 -10 season, said the company’s VP and general manager, Robert Lefebvre.

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Obama may overturn Bush’s ‘conscience’ rules

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK The Obama Administration may overturn the Bush Administration’s “conscience” rules that allow healthcare workers to invoke religious beliefs to deny certain services such as birth control, according to published reports.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Barack Obama may roll back the provisions, which allow pharmacists to refuse to prescribe birth control pills on account of personal religious beliefs. 

Seven states have also filed lawsuits to challenge the rule, the newspaper reported.

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Clear up patient medication guidelines, independent pharmacy group urges FDA

BY Jim Frederick

ALEXANDRIA, Va. The National Community Pharmacists Association wants the government to give patients a clearer, more concise set of guidelines on how to take their medications, the effects those drugs have and the risks and benefits they carry.

The independent pharmacy organization yesterday urged the Food and Drug Administration’s Risk Communication Advisory Committee to push for a change in the current system of overlapping instructions that go to patients along with their prescriptions. In testimony before the committee, NCPA asked the agency to develop criteria for a guidance that would describe “a single, patient-friendly, written prescription information sheet to eventually replace the multiple written documents that patients can currently receive from their pharmacists with a particular prescription.

Under current practices, those documents can include  Medication Guides, Patient Package Inserts [PPIs] and Consumer Medication Information [CMI]. Too often, said NCPA’s director of public policy, Tony Lee, patients discard the CMI and never read it — sometimes even throwing it away before they leave the pharmacy.

“While we recognize that the FDA has worked hard to try and improve these medication documents, the problem needs to be addressed in a fundamentally different way that combines useful written information with the personal relationships between the pharmacists and patients,” Lee told the FDA advisory panel.

“It is time for a comprehensive solution to this written prescription information issue,” added John Coster, NCPA’s senior VP of government affairs. “Any FDA effort to make CMI more useful for the patient should be accompanied by a broader assessment of the usefulness and purpose of the other information leaflets that pharmacist may be required to provide. We look forward to working with the agency and patient groups to meet this goal.”

Last summer, NCPA joined other pharmacy provider groups to file a “One Document” citizens’ petition with the FDA. The Risk Advisory Committee was convened specifically to address how to make CMI leaflets more useful for the patient, the group noted.

“These leaflets are voluntarily provided by the pharmacist, but the information contained in these leaflets often duplicates information in other written leaflets,” NCPA stated.

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