Massachusetts enacts biosimilars legislation
ARLINGTON, Va. — Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick on Tuesday enacted biosimilars legislation updating Massachusetts’s pharmacy law and paving the way for the substitution of biosimilars deemed "interchangeable" by the Food and Drug Administration. The governor took such action after passage of HB 3724 in both chambers of the General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
“As a physician, I applaud the governor and the legislature for taking action to maintain the careful checks and balances needed in administering biologics,” said Richard Dolinar, chairman of the Alliance for Safe Biologic Medicines. “Unlike chemical drugs, biologics are complex medicines treating complicated conditions. For that reason, regulations are needed to ensure doctors have a complete knowledge of what medicines are administered to their patients. I feel confident that this new law strikes the right balance in maintaining the safety and efficacy of biologic products, while advancing more treatment options to patients.”
Biosimilars, or copies that are similar to but not exact versions of the original biologic, are expected to be approved by the FDA as early as 2015.
While the FDA will deem whether a biologic drug is approved and "interchangeable," it is up to the states to decide whether one product may be substituted at the pharmacy level in place of the original biologic prescribed. This new law allows pharmacists to substitute a biosimilar for a brand biologic once the biosimilar is deemed to be "interchangeable." The pharmacists would be required to communicate that a substitution has occurred both to the patient, as well as the prescribing physician.
Physicians also would maintain the right to prohibit substitutions from occurring if the prescriber instructs otherwise in writing. The pharmacy will be required to maintain a record of each substitution for a period of at least a year.
Massachusetts is the third state this year to pass biosimilars legislation and pave the way for the substitution of biosimilars. “By ensuring that communication between physicians, pharmacists and patients remains a priority, we can monitor these complex therapies while providing the best quality and care,” Dolinar said.
Walgreens unveils Wrigley Building flagship location
DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens on Wednesday morning celebrated the opening of a new two-story, flagship drugstore in the north tower of Chicago’s iconic Wrigley Building.
Assisted by 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly, representatives from the Magnificent Mile Association, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and others, Walgreens executives marked the 27,800-sq.-ft. store’s opening with a ceremonial ribbon cutting at 9 a.m.
The location at 410 N. Michigan Ave. in the landmark building is the company’s 14th flagship store, and the third in Chicago. A unique design, the store’s gradient color pattern and indirect lighting features complement the building’s exterior. A mosaic floor motif of the building’s famous clock welcomes customers as they enter off of Michigan Avenue.
“We are very excited to open a Walgreens flagship store in the Wrigley Building, bringing together two iconic names in Chicago business,” said Mark Wagner, president of operations and community management for Walgreens. “The store will serve as a destination for health and daily living that offers our customers an exceptional experience.”
“I want to congratulate Walgreens for opening yet another flagship destination store here in downtown Chicago’s 42nd Ward,” said Ald. Reilly. “The City of Chicago recently designated the Wrigley Building as a Chicago Landmark, and this iconic structure has just undergone an exciting redevelopment that features Walgreens as an anchor retailer on Michigan Avenue. On behalf of the City Council, I want to thank Walgreens for continuing to bring investment and jobs to Chicago. By marrying two of Chicago’s iconic brands — Walgreens and Wrigley — under one landmark roof, I know this store will enjoy great success here, on Michigan Avenue.”
The store follows Walgreens Well Experience format, in which every aspect of the store focuses on the idea of “well.” The first floor of the store features an Upmarket Café, including a made-to-order juice, smoothie and milkshake bar; made-fresh daily hand-rolled sushi and sashimi; a large selection of produce; and such high-quality, on-the-go meal options as wraps, soup, sandwiches and salads. Customers also can enjoy a self-serve frozen yogurt and Icee station.
The store also features a walk-in cooler with a wide selection of craft beers and a large selection of wines complemented by an assortment of cheese and crackers. The pink glow of the Look Boutique greets patrons on the second floor, offering an expanded selection of skin care, hair care and cosmetics, including products from Boots No7. Shoppers can even take in a 180-degree view of the Magnificent Mile while perusing the selection of Chicago souvenirs.
Central to the store is the pharmacy, where the pharmacist is made accessible to provide more counseling and services to patients by working in front of the pharmacy counter to foster pharmacist-patient relationships. The pharmacy features an Express Rx pickup kiosk to allow customers to quickly pick up and pay for their refill prescriptions and a private health room for counseling and services, including immunizations and health tests. The store also offers a Healthcare Clinic, staffed by board-certified family nurse practitioners — no appointment necessary.
Chicago-based firm Camburas & Theodore LTD provided the design and lighting of the store’s interior. As Walgreens developed its Well Experience stores to step out of the traditional drug store format, the company has collaborated with Jackman Reinvention on in-store branding.
The store also features Web Pickup, which allows customers to shop online at Walgreens.com and pick up their order at the store.
Survey: COPD patients need more education on their disease state
WASHINGTON — Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease may need more education and better dialogue with their physicians to effectively manage the progressive respiratory condition, according to key findings from a two-part national COPE, or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Experience, Survey initiative released last week by the COPD Foundation.
While COPD exacerbations are a leading cause of hospitalization in the United States, nearly two-thirds (62%) of COPD patients surveyed admitted to not knowing much about them — and an additional 16% did not know what an exacerbation was at all. As many as 60% of COPD patients reported that they did not have an action plan for dealing with a flare-up. By contrast, in the part of the COPE Survey targeting physicians who treat COPD, almost all of them said they discuss exacerbations (98%) and establish action plans (92%) with their patients. This suggests an opportunity to improve care through more productive, meaningful communication between COPD patients and their physicians.
“Exacerbations can have a devastating impact on overall health, and they can actually cause COPD to progress even faster and reduce lung function,” said Scott Cerreta, director of education for the COPD Foundation. “Developing an action plan with instructions to help patients — and their caregivers — identify warning signs and what steps to take if an exacerbation should occur is a critical part of managing COPD.”
Additionally, the survey revealed that only 12% of COPD patients consider their condition to be “completely controlled” and indicated that COPD disrupts patients’ ability to complete normal daily activities, such as exercising (87%), climbing stairs (86%) and walking (77%). However, as many as 82% of patients who have a COPD treatment regimen said they are satisfied with it, suggesting that many may be unaware that more could be done.
“COPD can be treated, but it’s crucial for doctors to diagnose it early and for patients to follow the appropriate therapeutic strategies to improve symptoms, increase activity and reduce the chances of exacerbations,” said MeiLan Han, associate professor of medicine in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care at the University of Michigan. “It's important that physicians develop an individualized approach that works best for each patient.”
The COPE patient and physician surveys were conducted by the COPD Foundation with support from Forest Labs as part of Forest’s MORE Matters education campaign. The initiative aims to provide people living with COPD and their caregivers what they want more of: education about the condition, helpful resources and the support needed to help them manage the disease.