PHARMACY

Pfizer brings Lipitor marketing campaign to Walgreens Chicago flagship store

BY Alaric DeArment

CHICAGO — Drug maker Pfizer is taking a marketing campaign for one of its drugs to Walgreens’ Chicago flagship store to raise awareness about high cholesterol and healthy eating, the company said Monday.

Pfizer said it would bring "MasterChef" judge and restaurant owner Joe Bastianich to the store to demonstrate healthy, low-cholesterol cooking using ingredients off the store’s shelves. The event, which takes place Monday afternoon, is part of the drug maker’s "Heart to Health" marketing campaign, which it launched in November 2011 with Bastianich to promote Lipitor (atorvastatin). Lipitor lost patent protection that month, and Ranbaxy Labs now markets a generic version of the drug, which had sales of $7.7 billion in 2011.

"As we transform from a traditional drug store to a destination for health and daily living, we recognize that a quick errand to pick up a prescription or a health and beauty item can also be an opportunity to focus on one’s overall health," Walgreens pharmacist manager Nancy Salman said. "Joe is bringing our flagship store’s new culinary offerings to life, showing our shoppers that they can cook up a quick, delicious and healthy meal with fresh ingredients picked up on the way home."


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FDA advisory committee recommends approval for Astellas overactive bladder drug

BY Alaric DeArment

DEERFIELD, Ill. — A panel of Food and Drug Administration experts has recommended approval for a drug made by Astellas Pharma for overactive bladder.

The drug maker announced that the FDA Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee voted 7-4 with one abstention that its assessment of the risks and benefits of the drug YM178 (mirabegron) supported the drug’s approval.

The FDA is not required to follow the recommendations of advisory committees, but usually does. The agency is expected to decide whether or not to approve the drug by June 29.


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Retail pharmacies can play role in employer wellness programs

BY Alaric DeArment

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — It’s no secret that something has been afoot for the last few years: Retail pharmacies have gradually metamorphosed from places to pick up pills to destinations for health care — places to get everything from vaccines to care from nurses and even from physicians.

Given retail pharmacies’ evolving role, the growing number of employers starting wellness programs has opened up a number of possibilities, which some retail pharmacy companies have already started exploring.

(THE NEWS: More than half of employers include wellness program in health package. For the full story, click here.)

In November 2011, for example, computer networking company Cisco signed a deal with Walgreens’ Take Care Health Systems to operate the "LifeConnections Health Center" on Cisco’s San Jose, Calif., campus, providing Cisco employees and dependents with health-and-wellness services ranging from primary care, physical therapy, chiropractic care, acupuncture, vision, health coaching and an on-site Walgreens pharmacy.

More recently, in late March, Take Care announced the opening of the BeWell Center to provide wellness and preventive care, symptom care and lab services for Tufts University employees and contractors using the Tufts Health Plan, complementing a fitness center that Take Care also manages.

Meanwhile, in September 2011, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield named Hy-Vee Pharmacy Solutions, the chain’s specialty pharmacy division, as its preferred provider of specialty pharmacy benefits for members. The services include access to pharmacists who can address members’ questions or concerns, one-stop shopping for prescriptions and OTC medications and delivery of medications through Hy-Vee pharmacies or to patients’ homes, offices or other locations.

Employers have a vested interest in keeping employees healthy: It makes for more productive staff and keeps a lid on what they have to pay for health care. With retail pharmacies increasingly acting as extenders to physicians — and in some cases hiring physicians themselves, as Duane Reade has done — they’ll have a growing number of opportunities to be of service.

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