PHARMACY

NACDS releases list of pharmacy quality projects

BY Drew Buono

ALEXANDRIA, Va. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores today released the list of five demonstration projects that it helped select as a founding member of PQA Inc., a pharmacy quality alliance.

PQA was formed, “to improve health care quality and patient safety through a collaborative process in which the key stakeholders agree on a strategy for measuring performance at the pharmacy and pharmacist-levels; collecting data in the least burdensome way; and reporting meaningful information to consumers, pharmacists, employers, payers, and other healthcare decision-makers to help make informed choices, improve outcomes and stimulate the development of new payment models.”

The five projects that were chosen to help examine opportunities for measuring the quality of pharmacy performance are:

• Highmark in collaboration with CECity.com and the Rite Aid Corporation• Outcomes Pharmaceutical Health Care in collaboration with Kerr Drug, Inc and the University of North Carolina Eshelman School of Pharmacy• Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin, representing the Wisconsin Pharmacy Quality Collaborative, including the following payers, State of Wisconsin Dept of Health and Family Services, United Healthcare of Wisconsin, Unity Health Insurance and Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin• Purdue University School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences in collaboration with The Regenstrief Institute (an informatics and healthcare research organization), the Indiana Health Information Exchange, and the Indiana Pharmacists Alliance• University of Iowa and the Iowa Foundation for Medical Care in collaboration with Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Iowa Medicaid Enterprise

According to NACDS president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson, “NACDS is proud to be a founding member of PQA and these demonstration projects will provide significant data and help to shape best practices to advance the PQA objectives of providing meaningful information to pharmacists and pharmacy providers that will help improve the outcomes of the patients they serve. This is an important first step for pharmacy along a continuum of activities the alliance is working on this year.”

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PHARMACY

BMS settles with EPA over environmental issues

BY Drew Buono

NEW YORK Bristol-Myers Squibb has agreed to resolve Clean Air Act violations by reducing its emissions of ozone-depleting refrigerants at multiple facilities, paying about $3.65 million to upgrade some facilities.

The company’s settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency requires it to retire or retrofit 17 industrial refrigeration units by July 2009 at facilities in Mt. Vernon and Evansville, Ind.; Hopewell, N.J.; and Humacao and Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, the EPA said.

The units use hydrochlorofluorocarbons as refrigerants in the industrial process or in air conditioners. BMS agreed to change the units to use only non-ozone-depleting refrigerants, the EPA said.

The settlement, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, also requires the company to retire two comfort-cooling units at its New Brunswick, N.J., plant and connect the air conditioners to the company’s new centralized refrigeration system. The new system uses water-chilled coolers to minimize the use of chemical agents.

The company also must take steps to ensure compliance with EPA regulations at 13 of its facilities and pay $127,000 in fines. It also must submit three annual reports to each EPA region describing actions it has taken to comply with the settlement.

Following an EPA information request concerning its Evansville, Indiana, facility, BMS voluntarily audited 25 other facilities and reported potential violations. According to the EPA, the audit found potential violations at facilities in Connecticut, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Puerto Rico.

BMS said it will continue to monitor all sites.

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Vical bird flu vaccine successful in phase I

BY Alaric DeArment

SAN DIEGO A phase I study by Vical has found that its vaccine against avian influenza can protect against the virus, the company announced Thursday.

The double-blind, placebo-controlled study examined 100 volunteers ages 18 to 45 who received two injections of the vaccine and found that 50 to 67 percent of patients receiving 0.5mg and 1mg doses of the vaccine had immune responses that could protect against the H5N1 strain of avian flu.

The vaccine is made from DNA derived from plasmids, small pieces of genetic material, and designed to provoke an immune response.

H5N1 originated in Asia and spread to Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Of 385 people infected, 243 have died. Experts fear it could mutate into a form transmissible between humans and cause a global pandemic that would kill millions.

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