PHARMACY

Prevnar 13 receives FDA approval

BY Alaric DeArment

ROCKVILLE, Md. The Food and Drug Administration has approved a vaccine for preventing pneumococcal disease in children, the agency announced Wednesday.

The FDA approved Prevnar 13 (pneumococcal 13-valent conjugate vaccine [diphtheria CRM197 protein]), manufactured by Pfizer subsidiary Wyeth Pharmaceuticals. Prevnar 13, approved for preventing pneumococcal disease in children ages 6 weeks to 5 years, prevents against 13 types of the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae, compared to the original Prevnar, which prevented against seven types.

“Although the rates of invasive pneumococcal disease have declined dramatically, there are still children in the United States who are suffering with this serious illness,” FDA Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research acting director Karen Midthun stated. “The availability of Prevnar 13 will help prevent pneumococcal disease caused by the six additional serotypes.”

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PHARMACY

Alliance Health Networks forms healthcare advisory board

BY Antoinette Alexander

SALT LAKE CITY Alliance Health Networks, which is building a universe of social health networks focused on such specific health conditions as diabetes, has formed a healthcare advisory board. Among the founding members: pharmacy industry veteran Gordon Barker.

According to Alliance Health’s CEO, Stead Burwell, the advisory board is designed to provide Alliance Health executive management and its board of directors with industry insights, feedback and strategic counsel in support of its efforts to build online social health networks that bring together patients, caregivers and industry participants.

Alliance Health’s first social health network DiabeticConnect.com, has attracted the largest online population of people living with or treating diabetes, according to the company.

Barker has a nearly 40-year career in the pharmacy industry that includes 30 years with Thrifty PayLess Drug Stores, now Rite Aid. He started there as a pharmacist and eventually became president and CEO. He then served as CEO of Snyder Drug from 2005 through early 2009. In addition, Barker served as chairman of the board of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Found and currently serves on its board of chancellors.

Additional members of the advisory board include McKesson veteran, Richard Hawkins; and Robert Johnson, former chairman and CEO of PCS Health Systems, which is now part of CVS Caremark.

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Inhaled CF antibiotic receives FDA approval

BY Alaric DeArment

BETHESDA, Md. The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first inhaled antibiotic for cystic fibrosis in more than a decade, according to a cystic fibrosis advocacy organization.

The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation announced the FDA’s approval of Cayston (aztreonam), developed by Gilead Sciences. The organization invested $1 million to help development of the drug.

“The approval of Cayston demonstrates that our drug-development model is working and making a real difference in the lives of people with cystic fibrosis,” Cystic Fibrosis Foundation president and CEO Robert Beall said in a statement. “We are delighted to have a new antibiotic in the arsenal to help fight the life-threatening infections associated with this disease, as we continue to push forward with other therapies that address the underlying cause of CF.”

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