PHARMACY

Mary Ann Wagner receives NACDS’ ‘Great Communicator’ honor

BY Jim Frederick

ALEXANDRIA, Va. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores honored one of its own Wednesday night, naming NACDS veteran Mary Ann Wagner as a “Community Pharmacy Great Communicator” in recognition of her many contributions as a spokeswoman for chain pharmacy.

Wagner was honored at a reception in Arlington, Va., for “an entire career of communicating pharmacy’s role in word and action,” NACDS noted today. The “Great Communicator” award was established early last year by Steve Anderson, shortly after his election as president and chief executive officer of the chain pharmacy organization.

The program was created to honor those who publicly highlight the value of community pharmacy. “The NACDS honorary ‘Great Communicator’ designation complements the association’s Rapid Response Program, through which it addresses inappropriate or inaccurate characterizations of community pharmacy,” stated Anderson.

Wagner, a 13-year NACDS veteran, retired in December as senior vice president of policy and pharmacy and regulatory affairs. In that role, she took point on a wide range of policy and public health issues on behalf of retail pharmacy, serving as a high-profile advocate for the industry and providing expertise both inside and outside the pharmacy arena. NACDS bestowed the award for an entire career of communicating pharmacy’s role in word and action, rather than for a specific statement, as in the case of the previous two honorees, reporter Sabine Vollmer and the American Association of Retired Persons, which published in November a study on the role of community pharmacists.

A veteran of Hook-SupeRx and the Indiana Board of Pharmacy, Wagner was the 2003 recipient of the Harold W. Pratt Award, chain pharmacy’s highest honor.

With her background as a pharmacist and expertise in pharmacy-related policy, Wagner has been the perennial “go-to” voice of chain pharmacy, NACDS stated. “In addition to Mary Ann’s duties as a department head, over the years she conducted many media interviews with newspapers, radio, local television and national news outlets. As a result, Mary Ann was often the de facto face of our industry,” said Anderson. “Mary Ann handled this role gracefully and has been an outstanding communicator on behalf of chain pharmacy.”

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PHARMACY

FDA halts clinical trial of ALS drug

BY Drew Buono

LOS ANGELES The Food and Drug Administration has told CytRx to stop its clinical trial of the drug arimoclomol, which is being developed to treat amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, because of the need for additional analysis of previous animal studies involving the drug, according to published reports.

CytRx said in a release that it has asked for further clarification from the FDA, and said that “arimoclomol has been shown to be safe and well-tolerated after being administered to about 185 study volunteers.”

ALS is a progressive condition that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.

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Study indicates that drive-through can distract pharmacists

BY Drew Buono

COLUMBUS, Ohio A new study in the International Journal for Quality in Health Care has indicated that pharmacists who work at stores with drive through windows are more likely to be distracted and those distractions can lead to processing delays, reduced efficiency and even dispensing errors.

The pharmacists who were surveyed reported that the design and layout of their workplaces has an impact on dispensing accuracy, especially the presence of drive-through window pick-up services. Results also indicate that automated dispensing systems in pharmacies are likely to reduce the potential for errors and enhance efficiency.

Even with stringent internal quality controls, pharmacists nationally make an estimated 5.7 errors per 10,000 prescriptions processed, according to the study, which translates to more than 2.2 million dispensing errors each year.

According to the survey, pharmacists perceive that the drive-through window has the biggest impact on causing pharmacists and their staff to take extra steps (average agreement response of 3.7 on a 5-point scale); reducing efficiency (average response of 3.8); and causing delays in prescription processing (average response of 3.7). The respondents also attributed dispensing errors (average response of 3.2) and communication errors (average response of 3.3) to the presence of a drive-through window.

“A pharmacist or staff member could be responsible for four or five tasks, and serving people at the drive-through window is just one of them,” said Sheryl Szeinbach, the study’s lead author. “Some people seeking the convenience of the drive-through window don’t care about getting information. They just want the medication, and they want it as fast as possible. They should probably think about that and at least look at the medication and make sure it’s OK. And if they have questions, it may behoove them to come into the pharmacy.”

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