PHARMACY

Novartis’ Menveo approved for use in children

BY Alaric DeArment

BASEL, Switzerland — The Food and Drug Administration has approved a Novartis vaccine for preventing meningococcal disease in children, the Swiss drug maker said.

Novartis announced the approval of Menveo (meningococcal [groups A, C, Y and W-135] oligosaccharide diphtheria CRM197 conjugate vaccine) for active immunization to prevent certain forms of meningococcal disease caused by Neisseria meningitidis in children ages 2 to 10 years. The FDA approved the vaccine last year for use in adolescents and adults ages 11 to 55 years.

“The approval of Menveo for the use in children 2 to 10 years of age is another important step toward our goal to protect people of all ages against this devastating disease,” Novartis vaccines and diagnostics division head, Andrin Oswald, said.

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PHARMACY

Generics move McKesson profits up

BY Michael Johnsen

SAN FRANCISCO — McKesson Corp. on Monday reported revenue of $28.2 billion for its fiscal third quarter, ended Dec. 31, 2010. Third-quarter earnings per diluted share were 60 cents, which included a pre-tax average wholesale price litigation charge of $189 million ($133 million after-tax, or 52 cents per diluted share).

Excluding the AWP litigation charge, third-quarter earnings per diluted share from continuing operations were $1.12, the company noted. In the prior-year’s third quarter, earnings per diluted share were $1.19, which included the benefit of higher-margin distribution services revenues associated with the H1N1 flu virus.

The third-quarter AWP litigation charge represents an increase to an existing litigation reserve for current and possible future public entity claims against McKesson relating to drug reimbursement benchmarks known as AWPs. Following the company’s announcement of its settlement of all private-party AWP claims in the third quarter of fiscal year 2009, a reserve for estimated probable losses for all public-entity AWP claims was established.

McKesson has continued to engage in settlement discussions with the purpose of resolving various of the public-entity claims, the company stated. McKesson consistently has stated that these cases are without merit and, absent settlements acceptable to the company, they will continue to be defended.

In the third quarter, Distribution Solutions revenues were flat. U.S. pharmaceutical distribution revenues were down 1% due to reduced revenues associated with two of McKesson’s warehouse customers and the prior-year’s impact of the H1N1 flu virus.

"Distribution Solutions had strong performance this quarter," stated John Hammergren, McKesson chairman and CEO. "Looking ahead, we are well-positioned to continue to benefit from the pipeline of higher-margin generic drugs. We also have significantly improved our strategic position through our acquisition of U.S. Oncology, and our expanded suite of solutions and services will uniquely enhance oncologists’ ability to provide high-quality care to their patients."

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PHARMACY

PharmaSmart enhances blood-pressure diagnostic, health IT kiosks

BY Michael Johnsen

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — PharmaSmart International on Monday announced new advances in its blood-pressure diagnostic and health IT kiosks, including Internet connectivity, patient data tracking and patient health record integration.

“PharmaSmart now combines a clinically validated diagnostic tool with an easy-to-use health IT platform to offer pharmacists meaningful tools for better patient care,” stated Ashton Maaraba, PharmaSmart GM and SVP. “This represents a new era of clinical pharmacy services.”

Retail pharmacies offering the program enroll patients into PharmaSmart’s integrated patient management platform, Maaraba said. Once enrolled, the pharmacist uses the integrated personal health record functionality to provide therapeutic counseling and interventions as required.

“In addition to our suite of pharmacist and patient tools, our IT platform enables robust program reporting,” Maaraba said. “For example, in 2010, our client networks captured nearly 1.5 million blood-pressure readings that were hypertensive. This is a huge, untapped opportunity for pharmacist intervention.”

Enrolled patients also have access to a retail-branded personal health record that stores and organizes their diagnostic readings, the company added. PharmaSmart kiosks and Web services are confidential and HIPAA-compliant.

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