PHARMACY

Meijer offers free flu, strep tests and dispenses drugs at some Mich. stores as part of NACDS Foundation-supported study

BY Alaric DeArment

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — With cases of influenza rising across the Midwest, mass-merchandise retailer Meijer is participating in a new study by offering free testing for flu and strep throat at its stores in Michigan and allowing its pharmacists to dispense prescription drugs as necessary under a protocol developed by a physician who’s also involved, the 204-store chain said Wednesday.

Under the program, pharmacists at Meijer’s stores will administer the tests and, in some cases, fill a prescription for flu drugs under a protocol set by a physician participating in a study for which Meijer is collaborating with Ferris State University and the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy to examine the effectiveness of rapid diagnostic testing and the process by which medicines are administered to patients for influenza and strep throat in pharmacies.

"This is not a replacement of physician services," Meijer VP pharmacy operations Karen Mankowski said. "Increasing accessibility to testing for flu and strep throat and enabling pharmacists to work from those results means that patients might self-treat symptoms less and get better more quickly. That decreases the risk of spreading those common illnesses and allows doctors and nurse practitioners to provide care to patients with more complicated conditions."

Before the study, pharmacists at the retailer underwent a training certification program developed by a team from the two universities and sanctioned by the Michigan Pharmacists Association to administer the noninvasive Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment-waived rapid tests.

"Many of us forget how many people come to the pharmacy first anyway when they have symptoms for flu and strep," said UNMC physician and principal study investigator Donald Klepser, who is conducting the study on a grant from the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Foundation. "Stand at your pharmacy during cold and flu season and see how many people ask the pharmacist, ‘What should I take for this?’"

 

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AbbVie starts phase-3 trial of drug for aggressive form of breast cancer

BY Alaric DeArment

NORTH CHICAGO, Ill. – Drug maker AbbVie has started a late-stage clinical trial of an experimental drug for treating triple-negative breast cancer, the company said Wednesday.

AbbVie announced the initiation of a phase-3 trial of ABT-888 (veliparib) as an add-on treatment to the chemotherapy drug carboplatin in women with early-stage, triple-negative breast cancer. Triple-negative breast cancer, which accounts for about one-fifth of all breast cancer cases, is a type that can grow in the absence of three receptors that often fuel the growth of breast cancer, namely estrogen, progesterone and large amounts of HER2/neu protein. Because it does not respond to some of the most effective therapies available to treat breast cancer, it tends to be more difficult to treat than other types.

The trial will consist of three parts, one with ABT-888 added to carboplatin, one with carboplatin and placebo and one with a chemotherapy treatment. 

"This new phase-3 trial is an important step in potentially providing women with early-stage triple-negative breast cancer with a new treatment option for use in conjunction with surgical therapy," AbbVie VP pharmaceutical development Scott Brun said. "While therapies exist to treat many forms of breast cancer, there is still a significant need for effective, targeted therapies for women with early-stage triple-negative breast cancer, which tends to be an aggressive, faster-growing form of breast cancer."

 

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Antares announces availability of injectable methotrexate product for arthritis, psoriasis

BY Alaric DeArment

EWING, N.J. — A new drug for autoimmune diseases from Antares Pharma that the company calls the first of its kind is now available, the drug maker said Wednesday.

Antares announced the availability of Otrexup for rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis in adults and polyarticular idiopathic arthritis in children. The company said the drug is the first Food and Drug Administration-approved subcutaneous methotrexate product for once-weekly self-administration. Otrexup, which the FDA approved in October, is available with a single-dose auto injector.

"Otrexup provides an attractive new option that may benefit patients who have had an inadequate response to or are intolerant of oral [methotrexate]," Antares president and CEO Paul Wotton said. "Otrexup is an easy-to-use auto injector that delivers greater blood levels of medication than oral MTX. Otrexup could extend the use and benefits of MTX and potentially delay or avoid the use of other more expensive treatment options in some patients."

 

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