PHARMACY

Pharmacy becomes go-to for flu shots

BY Michael Johnsen

Vaccinations represent an emerging category within retail pharmacy for one simple reason: The majority of Americans prefer visiting their local pharmacy to get their inoculations, as opposed to visiting the doctor’s office, according to the PrescribeWellness 2017 Vaccination and Preventive Care Survey.

Already, retail pharmacy is the No. 2 destination for adults in search of their annual flu shot, with 24.3% of adults asking their pharmacists for a flu shot, compared with 37.4% who still ask their doctors, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

And it’s not just flu shots. Retail pharmacy is fast becoming a go-to for inoculations ranging from shingles to travel vaccines because it’s convenient.

Of the 62% of PrescribeWellness survey respondents who chose the pharmacy over visiting a doctor’s office, as many as 26% stated their pharmacy is their “one-stop shop” for many health-and-wellness needs. One-in-four respondents reported their local pharmacy is easier to get to than the doctor’s office, and 1-in-5 suggested their local pharmacy is significantly more convenient compared with the doctor’s office, especially when they have the kids with them.

Pharmacy has answered the call. Roughly 68% of community pharmacies offer immunization services, according to the “2016 National Community Pharmacy Association Digest.” And approximately 300,000 pharmacists nationwide currently are trained to give immunizations, according to the American Pharmacists Association.

Compared with data from the 2014 National Health Interview Survey, the 2015 survey revealed increases in vaccination coverage for adults, with influenza vaccines increasing from 43.2% to 44.8%, pneumococcal vaccine from 20.2% to 23%, Tdap vaccine from 20% to 23.1% and hepatitis B vaccine from 60.6% to 64.7%. Similarly, herpes zoster vaccine among adults older than 60 years of age increased from 27.9% to 30.6%. The CDC reported that the herpes zoster vaccination coverage in 2015 met the Healthy People 2020 target of 30%.

“Coverage for all vaccines for adults remained low, but modest gains occurred in vaccination coverage,” the CDC noted. “Although having health insurance coverage and a usual place for health care were associated with higher vaccination coverage, these factors alone were not associated with optimal adult vaccination coverage.”

Awareness is on the rise, however. For example, the CDC noted that 1-in-3 people are expected to develop shingles. As a result, 89% of those surveyed by PrescribeWellness thought that it was important to take shingles immunization seriously.

The future of vaccinations may be OTC
Earlier this year, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology tested a new, pain-free flu vaccine patch that could one day be self-administered, suggesting there may one day be an OTC “flu shot.” “Having the option of a flu vaccine that can be easily and painlessly self-administered could increase coverage and protection by this important vaccine,” noted Nadine Rouphael, associate professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine and principal investigator of the clinical trial.

Using microneedle patch technology under development at Micron Biomedical, a Phase 1 clinical trial found that vaccination by a microneedle patch was as safe and at least as immunogenic as vaccination with standard needle and syringe.

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Lynzparza’s new tablet formulation gets FDA approval, expanded indication

BY David Salazar

WILMINGTON, Del. — AstaZeneca and Merck’s Lynzparza (olaparib) tablets were approved by the Food and Drug Administration, as well as given an expanded indication by the regulatory agency.

The tablets are approved as a maintenance treatment of adult patients with recurrent, epithelial ovarian, fallopian tube or primary peritoneal cancer who are in a complete or partial response to platinum-based chemotherapy, regardless of BRCA status. Additionally, they were approved for use twice daily, as opposed to the eight-a-day regimen required of Lynzparza’s capsule formulation.

The drug also is now indicated for use in adult patients with deleterious or suspected deleterious germline BRCA-mutated advanced ovarian cancer, who have been treated with three or more prior lines of chemotherapy. The patients for this indication are selected for treatment base on an FDA-approved companion diagnostic.

“Physicians have almost three years of clinical experience with Lynsparza on the market and we are now pleased to bring this important medicine, in a new tablet formulation, to a broader group of women,” AstraZeneca EVP global medicines development and chief medical officer Sean Bohen said. “Today’s approvals validate more than 10 years of dedicated research behind Lynzparza, the world’s first PARP inhibitor, which now provides oncologists with the greater flexibility for use in terms of treatment settings. It builds on our recently-announced collaboration with Merck, which aims to further increase the number of treatment options available to patients.”

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Diplomat dispensing Mavyret

BY David Salazar

FLINT, Mich. — Diplomat Pharmacy is dispensing a newly approved treatment for chronic hepatitis C. The company on Friday announced that it is now dispensing AbbVie’s Mavyret (glecaprevir and pibrentasvir) tablets.

The drug is indicated to treat patients with all major genotypes of chronic hepatitis C infection with cirrhosis or with compensated cirrhosis. It also is also indicated for adults with Genotype 1 infection who previously have been treated with a regimen containing an NS5A inhibitor or an NS3/4A protease inhibitor (but not both).

“We are proud to expand upon Diplomat’s therapy offerings to patients who have been diagnosed with chronic hepatitis C,” said Joel Saban, president of Diplomat. “This valuable treatment option gives more patients the possibility of a life without this serious disease.”

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