PHARMACY

Merck partners with universities to research ways to eradicate HIV

BY Alaric DeArment

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. — A team comprised of scientists from drug maker Merck and several U.S. universities will look for ways to eradicate HIV, Merck said.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill announced that researchers at nine universities and Merck scientists would study HIV latency and find ways to purge persistent infection of the virus from the body. In addition, the University of California San Francisco would organize an international team of academic, governmental and Merck scientists to work on a five-year research effort to define and better understand HIV’s reservoirs and test potential treatments.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, will be the main funding organization for both research efforts, though Merck will not receive any funding for its participation.

“Collaboration has been the hallmark of much of the progress made against HIV since the virus was first identified 30 years ago,” Merck Research Labs VP Daria Hazuda said. “Continued collaboration is absolutely essential to better understand HIV reservoirs and identify potential approaches to the daunting challenges of eradicating HIV.”

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PHARMACY

American Pharmacists Association seeking nominations for annual practitioner and scientific awards

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — The American Pharmacists Association is seeking nominations for its annual practitioner and scientific awards and honors, the organization said Wednesday.

The APhA said it would present the winners at the annual APhA Annual Meeting and Exposition in New Orleans next March. The APhA Academy of Pharmacy Practice and Management administers the practitioner awards and honors, while the APhA Academy of Pharmaceutical Research and Science administers the scientific awards and honors. The deadline for submissions is Sept. 15.

Nomination guidelines, forms and criteria are available at Pharmacist.com/awards.

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NACDS urges Obama, Congress to ensure patient access for TRICARE beneficiaries

BY Antoinette Alexander

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Amid debt ceiling talks, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores has sent a letter to President Barack Obama and to the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate leadership outlining key areas to help ensure continued patient access to pharmacy services through such federally funded programs as Medicare, Medicaid and TRICARE, the association announced on Wednesday. 

The letter urges decision-makers to continue to enable access to diabetic testing supplies for Medicare patients, many of whom obtain these supplies from community pharmacies. In addition, the letter addresses how decreases in Medicare Part B prescription drug reimbursements could result in prescription access problems for Medicare patients.

NACDS also urged decision-makers to exercise caution in attempts to reduce costs in the Department of Defense TRICARE pharmacy program.

"Local pharmacies are an important healthcare access point and currently provide important preventive services to our nation’s military, such as immunizations. If reductions to the TRICARE pharmacy program are considered, we urge you to be mindful of the importance of maintaining access and choice of provider for TRICARE beneficiaries. NACDS has a long history of partnering with the Department of Defense to institute industry best practices to control prescription drug spending in the TRICARE program, and we are committed to continuing to do so," the letter stated.

Finally, NACDS urged continued vigilance and a strategic approach to reducing waste, fraud and abuse in the Medicare and Medicaid programs, which can increase costs.

"We believe the focus should be based on high-risk providers, rather than creating one-size-fits-all initiatives that unfairly burden legitimate providers with a history of serving Medicare patients," the letter stated.

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