PHARMACY

Pharmacy practice pioneer Paul Lofholm tapped for APhA’s Remington Honor Medal

BY Jim Frederick

WASHINGTON — The American Pharmacists Association on Wednesday announced the winners of its Remington Honor Medal and other professional awards.

Named the 2011 Remington recipient is Paul Lofholm, president of Ross Valley Pharmacy in Larkspur, Calif. Lofholm was tapped for APhA’s highest honor for his “lifelong work in continuing education, advancement of pharmacy practice and support of student pharmacist programs,” the organization said. APhA members who nominated Lofholm for the honor spoke of his “contagious” positive attitude toward the profession, his efforts to mentor younger pharmacists and his work on behalf of many pharmacy groups.

The Remington Honor Medal, named for community pharmacist, manufacturer and educator Joseph Remington, was established in 1918 to recognize distinguished service on behalf of American pharmacy. The Remington Medal and other APhA awards will be bestowed during the venerable pharmacy organization’s Annual Meeting and Exposition in Seattle this March.

A PharmD graduate from the University of California, Lofholm has more than 40 years’ experience in the pharmacy profession and has served on numerous professional advisory committees and organizational boards. Besides running a community pharmacy business, he is clinical professor of pharmacy at the University of California, San Francisco, and an adjunct clinical professor of pharmacy at the University of the Pacific and Touro University.

“Paul’s long history of dedicated service is outstanding by any measure, as are his unrelenting contributions to the advancement of our profession,” wrote one supporter. “He is a pioneer in continuing education, patient monitoring and clinical pharmacy, all of which he advocated and advanced. Furthermore, as one of the nation’s first PharmD clinical instructors, he has precepted hundreds of students, further contributing to the future of pharmacy.”

Among other pharmacists gaining recognition for their efforts, APhA announced that Thomas Temple, EVP of the Iowa Pharmacy Association, would receive this year’s Hugo H. Schaefer Award. “Temple was chosen for his leadership of a well-integrated state organization of community and institutional pharmacy practitioners and dedication to serving the profession,” the organization noted.

Temple also was cited for his commitment to payment reform, the implementation of broad-based pharmaceutical care and dedication to the mentoring and development of student pharmacists, according to APhA.

Tapped for APhA’s Hubert H. Humphrey Award is Wendall Gaston, a Safeway pharmacy manager in Sidney, Nebraska. Gaston was honored “in recognition of his lifelong dedication to the profession of pharmacy and passion for healthcare, politics, community and public service, as well as his commitment to make life better for the citizens of Sidney and state of Nebraska,” the APhA noted.

The award, named for Hubert H. Humphrey, a noted pharmacist and former VP of the United States, was established in 1978 to recognize APhA members who have made major contributions in government and legislative service at the local, state or national level.

Julie Johnson, EVP and CEO of the Minnesota Pharmacists Association, will be honored in March with the APhA Gloria Niemeyer Francke Leadership Mentor Award. Johnson’s recognition stems in part from her mentoring efforts among young pharmacists, said the organization, including “serving as an indispensable resource of professional advice for the 400-plus PharmD students on the Twin Cities campus of the University of Minnesota.”

APhA also announced that Jeff Poston, executive director of the Canadian Pharmacists Association, has been awarded honorary membership for 2011. Poston was recognized for advocating the growth of the CPhA and his work on activities that have expanded pharmacist-provided patient care services to community pharmacies.

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PHARMACY

Pfizer seeks to stop generic versions of Lipitor

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — A generic version of the world’s top-selling cholesterol treatment is expected to hit the market this year, but the branded version’s manufacturer is trying to put the brakes on the launch, according to media reports.

Gurgaon, India-based Ranbaxy Labs plans to launch its version of Pfizer’s cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor (atorvastatin) in the United States in November and will receive six months’ market exclusivity in which to compete directly against Pfizer’s version, under the terms of the Hatch-Waxman Act of 1984.

Dr. Reddy’s Labs, based in Hyderabad, India, had planned to launch its own version in May 2012, but Pfizer has filed a lawsuit against the company to delay the launch, alleging that the launch would infringe its patents.

The last of the patents protecting Lipitor’s use in adults is set to expire in July 2016, according to the Food and Drug Administration. The drug had U.S. sales of $7.5 billion in 2009, according to IMS Health.

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Senator to float bill to address drug shortages

BY Jim Frederick

EDINA, Minn. — Responding to what she termed an “unprecedented” shortage of prescription medicines for such serious conditions as cancer, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., is promising new legislation to deal with the problem. The senator said she also is pressing the Food and Drug Administration and the pharmaceutical industry to address a growing shortage of prescription medications, especially drugs for treating cancer.

Klobuchar revealed her concerns on Dec. 30 while speaking at Fairview Southdale Hospital in this Minneapolis suburb. Noting that pharmacists and other health providers are reporting serious shortages of prescription drugs, especially for chemotherapy, she said she would introduce legislation this month to provide the FDA with new tools to deal with potential drug shortages.

“Physicians, pharmacists and patients are currently among the last to know when an essential drug will no longer be available,” Klobuchar said. “That’s not right. There needs to be better coordination between the pharmaceutical industry, the FDA and healthcare providers so patients don’t lose access to the medications they depend on.”

Klobuchar said her legislation would give the FDA the authority to require early notification from pharmaceutical companies when they decide to limit or discontinue production of prescription drugs. In addition, the proposed law would arm the agency with the authority to establish an expedited process to approve substitute treatments or the importation of safe, clinically equivalent drugs from outside the United States when there is an impending shortage of a drug.

“We want to respect the private market, but we also need to protect the public’s health,” Klobuchar said. “This is a common-sense solution. It’s not too much to ask to have an early warning system so pharmacists and physicians can prepare in advance and ensure that patients continue to receive the best care possible.”

In December, Klobuchar sent a letter to FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg requesting “immediate action” to ensure adequate supplies of essential drugs. Those in short supply, she noted, include everything from morphine for pain relief to propofol for sedation to leucovrin for cancer.

“There is also a serious shortage of prefilled epinephrine syringes used in emergencies to treat heart attacks and allergic reactions,” Klobuchar’s office reported. “Experts cite a number of factors behind the shortages, including scarcity of some raw materials, manufacturing problems and unexpected demand. Business decisions within the pharmaceutical industry are also a factor, such as cutting back on production of low-cost generic drugs in favor of more profitable brand-name drugs.”

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