PHARMACY

Louisiana seeks to expand pharmacy’s ability to immunize patients

BY Antoinette Alexander

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The Louisiana State Senate passed legislation that would expand the authority given to pharmacists to administer immunizations.

State Sen. Fred Mills Jr., R-22, who serves on the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, is the author of SB 60, which would expand pharmacists’ authority to provide immunizations to Louisianans ages 18 years and older against pneumonia, shingles, tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis without a prescription.

"The pharmacists of Louisiana are to be commended for the final senate passage of SB 60, which will enable pharmacists to immunize more patients," Mills said. "As one of the most trusted professions, pharmacists provide high-quality and accessible care to patients. We are pleased with this victory and urge the House to move swiftly to also pass this legislation, and send to the governor to be signed into law."

The legislation is expected to be voted on as early as next week by the Louisiana House of Representatives.

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores on Friday applauded the passage, stating that the bill would help prevent 14 million cases of disease and 33,000 deaths annually.

"Pharmacies are the face of neighborhood healthcare, providing cost-effective, easily accessible and convenient services, such as immunizations," stated NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson. "Pharmacists have the ability to immunize in all 50 states, reducing costs for both patients and the overall healthcare delivery system."

Many Americans remain unvaccinated and susceptible to vaccine-preventable diseases. An Institute of Medicine report estimated that more than 50,000 adults and 300 children in the United States die each year from vaccine-preventable diseases or their complications.

Anderson added, "Enabling pharmacists to provide important vaccine services to more Americans will serve important public health goals by providing a convenient and cost-effective option for receiving the recommended vaccines and immunizations. Expanding immunization authority is an excellent use of pharmacists, who are highly educated healthcare professionals."

To sit for pharmacy board licensure exams, candidates must have a Doctor of Pharmacy degree (PharmD), which requires a minimum of six years of professional education.

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Sandoz looks to market generic Vyvanse

BY Alaric DeArment

DUBLIN — Sandoz is looking to market a generic version of a Shire drug for treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Shire said Thursday that it received a notice letter from Sandoz, the generics division of Swiss drug maker Novartis, that the latter had filed a regulatory approval application with the Food and Drug Administration for a generic version of Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine dimesylate). The application contained a Paragraph IV certification, a legal assertion that the patents covering Vyvanse — all of which expire in 2023, according to the FDA Orange Book — are invalid, unenforceable or won’t be infringed.

Under the Hatch-Waxman Act of 1984, Shire has 45 days in which to review Sandoz’s letter and determine if it will file a patent infringement suit, which would result in the FDA placing a 30-month stay of approval on the generic. In many cases of generic drug companies challenging branded drug patents, however, the generic and branded company will reach a settlement that allows the generic launch to occur before the patents expire.

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Medco, Verizon developed mobile app

BY Alaric DeArment

FRANKLIN LAKES, N.J. — Telecommunications provider Verizon Wireless and pharmacy benefit manager Medco Health Solutions have unveiled a mobile application that the companies said would allow patients and their doctors to instantly find the lowest-cost prescription drugs to meet their health needs and identify potentially harmful drug interactions.

The new Medco Pharmacy mobile app for Verizon Wireless Android and BlackBerry smartphones, is available for download from Verizon. The app provides information about out-of-pocket costs for any prescription drug and lower-cost options specific to a patient’s drug plan, as well as drug-interaction alerts based on the patient’s prescription history, including for patients treated by several doctors or who fill prescriptions at multiple pharmacies.

The app consists of three features: My Rx Choices, which delivers on-demand, personalized out-of-pocket costs, interactions and other information for any prescription drug; My Medicine Cabinet, which allows patients to view the medications they’re on, including prescription and over-the-counter drugs, and set reminders for themselves; and Prescription ID Card, which allows convenient access to a member’s prescription drug card.

“Wireless devices are a part of the lifestyle as we know it today, and millions of people rely on their BlackBerry and Android smartphones for instant information,” Verizon Wireless VP sales Mike Ross said. “Reliability is paramount to not only medical formation, but for a network too. Our combined technologies will give users a powerful tool that can help them manage their medical care.”

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