PHARMACY

N.Y. lawmakers seek to help patients with low health literacy

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — State lawmakers in New York have introduced legislation that would require simplifying and translating medication labels and providing oral interpretation services.

A.7342, introduced in the New York State Assembly by Democrat Richard Gottfried of New York City, and S.5000, introduced in the State Senate by Republican Kemp Hannon of Long Island, also would modify prescription forms to include a section for doctors to note that a patient has limited English-speaking and comprehension ability and indicate what language the patient speaks. Gottfried and Hannon are the respective chairmen of the Assembly Health Committee and the Senate Health Committee.

Nearly half the population of the United States has low health literacy, meaning a lack of the reading and numeracy skills necessary to understand such healthcare information as prescription drug instructions.

“If a patient can’t understand the label on medication or understand the answers to questions about it, the medication won’t be effective, and the patient can be injured or killed,” Gottfried said. “Chain and mail-order pharmacies should be required to provide translation services, just as hospitals do. And standardizing drug labels will help all of us.”

Advocacy group Make the Road New York and nonprofit civil rights legal firm New York Lawyers for the Public Interest praised the bill, saying it would improve access and adherence to prescription drugs in the state.

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Merck closes Inspire acquisition

BY Allison Cerra

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. — Drug maker Merck has completed its acquisition of eye care company Inspire.

As previously reported, Merck announced its plan to acquire the company for $5 per share in cash, or $430 million. In addition, Monarch Transaction, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Merck, has merged with and into Inspire, with Inspire surviving as a wholly owned subsidiary of Merck, effective today.

“We are excited to complete this compelling and highly complementary acquisition of Inspire,” said Beverly Lybrand, SVP and general manager, neuroscience and ophthalmology at Merck. “The successful completion of this transaction strengthens our ophthalmology business and positions us for future growth with an expanded portfolio and a best in class commercialization organization.”

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Lilly to present cancer studies data at ASCO

BY Alaric DeArment

INDIANAPOLIS — Drug maker Eli Lilly will present data from more than 30 studies at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s annual meeting in Chicago next month, the company said Monday.

Studies will include “PARAMOUNT,” a late-stage clinical trial investigating the drug Alimta (pemetrexed) in patients with advanced non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer, as well as studies on Gemzar (gemcitabine) and Erbitux (cetuximab) with partner companies Bristol-Myers Squibb and Merck KGaA.

“Lilly Oncology is committed to exploring innovations that improve outcomes for all people living with cancer,” Lilly Oncology VP product development and regulatory affairs Richard Gaynor said. “We believe that data from PARAMOUNT, and our other studies at ASCO, demonstrate Lilly’s focus on tailored therapies and commitment to addressing unmet needs in cancer care.”

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