Push for greater immunization authority
When it announced its fourth-quarter and fiscal year 2013 earnings in April, Rite Aid noted that it performed 2.4 million flu vaccinations, as well as 400,000 vaccinations for pneumonia, shingles and whooping cough. Walgreens administered more than 6.5 million immunizations in 2012, and CVS’ totals reached more than 3.5 million.
Suffice it to say, pharmacy retailers have grown rapidly to become a popular destination for a medical service that was once limited to physician offices and clinics. But while pharmacists in all 50 states can administer vaccinations, local regulations vary — some restrict pharmacist-administered vaccinations by age, while others can vaccinate against diseases like hepatitis A and B, under certain conditions.
In late April, Pharmacy Choice and Access Now marked World Immunization Week and urged expansion of immunization authority for pharmacists as a way to increase access to them for patients. In March, Wyoming’s state senate passed a bill to allow pharmacists to prescribe and administer vaccinations to patients ages 7 years and older. In May, legislation in Pennsylvania to expand the range of vaccinations pharmacists can give got support from doctors.
SCOTUS, biosimilars focus in 2013
The year is only halfway done, but 2013 is already proving to be a year of particular importance for generic drugs as the industry awaits two important decisions from the Supreme Court and continues to wait for federal biosimilar regulations while fending off efforts to limit the scope of their use at the state level.
The patent cliff has continued, with the expiration of Purdue Pharma’s patent on the long-acting opioid painkiller OxyContin (oxycodone), though companies looking to make generic versions have to include anti-tampering features; however, generic versions of another commonly abused opioid, Endo Pharmaceuticals’ Opana ER (oxymorphone), won’t need to include anti-tampering features.
The Food and Drug Administration is still working on regulations for biosimilars, as mandated by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, which created an abbreviated regulatory approval pathway for them.
In addition to progress on the biosimilar front, the Supreme Court will soon reach decisions on two important generic drug industry cases. Federal Trade Commission v. Actavis, which DSN covered in its April issue, will decide the legality of patent settlements between branded and generic drug companies in which generic companies agree to hold off product launch in exchange for payment or the branded company agreeing to not launch an authorized generic. Another case, Mutual Pharmaceutical v. Bartlett, will decide if a generic drug company can be held liable for injuries caused by its products when those products are identical to their brand-name counterparts.
A lot will happen this year to affect the generic drug industry. The question is how will they play out?
DSN, CCA host 6th Retail Clinician Education Congress
LAS VEGAS — The Drug Store News Group, in conjunction with the Convenient Care Association, hosted the sixth annual Retail Clinician Education Congress at the Planet Hollywood resort and casino last month. In addition to the annual CARE Awards (i.e., Clinician Achievement in Retail Excellence), which celebrate the excellence in patient care delivery at the nurse practitioner/physician assistant level, the event also featured a special roundtable discussion with top retail clinic leaders. The discussion offered key insight into healthcare changes, challenges and opportunities that will impact retail clinics over the next few years.
A transcript of the CEO roundtable, as well as profiles of this year’s CARE Awards winners, will appear in future editions of DSN.