PHARMACY

MinuteClinic to offer vitamin B12 injections, HPV vaccination

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Caremark’s MinuteClinic division has expanded its suite of services to now include vitamin B12 injections and the human papillomavirus vaccination Gardasil.

"There is an increasing medical need for patients to gain more convenient access to B12 injections and HPV vaccinations," stated Nancy Gagliano, MinuteClinic chief medical officer. "By making it easy to obtain these services in our retail locations with no appointment necessary, we hope to help seniors and other patients who have B12 deficiency, and also young women and men who want to lower their risk for serious disease caused by HPV."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1-out-of-31 adults older than 51 years are B12-deficient. The vitamin plays an important role in the normal function of the brain and nervous system, and in the formation of red blood cells. Patients with low B12 levels may feel tired and weak because of a lack of red blood cells carrying oxygen to the brain. Injections are given to raise B12 levels.

Patients receiving B12 injections at MinuteClinic must be older than 18 years and present a prescription for the injections or have a prescription on file with the pharmacy. The cost for each injection is $21 and many insurers provide coverage for B12 injections.

HPV immunization joins a suite of vaccinations offered by MinuteClinic for such illnesses as influenza, tetanus, pneumonia and hepatitis A and B. It helps to protect against four types of HPV, including two types that cause 75% of all cervical cancer cases in women ages 9 to 26 years. The CDC recommends the HPV vaccination for females in this age group. More than 12,200 new cases of cervical cancer were found in 2010 in the United States, and 4,210 deaths occurred, according to the National Cancer Institute.

The vaccine also protects against two types of HPV known to cause 90% of genital warts cases in both women and men in the age range of 9 to 26 years. It protects against 70% of vaginal cancer cases and 70% of vulvar cancer cases among girls and young women.

The HPV vaccine, which requires follow-up injections at two and six months, is offered by MinuteClinic to female and male patients who are older than 9 years and younger than 26 years old. The cost is $208 per injection. Many healthcare insurers provide coverage for HPV vaccinations.

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Mylan gets OK for generic Femara

BY Alaric DeArment

PITTSBURGH — Mylan has launched a generic treatment for breast cancer, the drug maker said Monday.

Mylan announced the launch of letrozole tablets in the 2.5-mg strength, an adjuvant treatment for postmenopausal women with hormone receptor-positive early-stage breast cancer.

The drug is the first generic version of Novartis’ Femara, which had sales of about $682 million in 2010, according to IMS Health.

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Menactra approved for use in infants, toddlers

BY Alaric DeArment

SILVER SPRING, Md. — The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first vaccine for preventing meningococcal disease in children as young as 9 months old, the agency said.

The FDA announced the approval of Menactra, made by Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines arm of French drug maker Sanofi-Aventis. Meningococcal disease is a life-threatening illness caused by Neisseria meningitidis bacteria that infect the bloodstream and the lining surrounding the brain and spinal cord.

Between 10% and 15% of people who develop meningococcal disease die from the infection, even with appropriate antibiotics and intensive care, while another 10% to 20% suffer such complications as brain damage, loss of limbs and hearing loss.

Menactra already had FDA approval for patients ages 2 to 55 years.

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