PHARMACY

Ranbaxy recalls several lots of generic Lipitor

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — Ranbaxy Labs has recalled more than three dozen lots of its generic version of a cholesterol-lowering statin drug due to the possible presence of foreign particles, the company said.

In a notice posted on its U.S. website, the India-based drug maker said it had voluntarily recalled several lots of 500-pill bottles of atorvastatin calcium, a generic version of Pfizer’s Lipitor, in the 10-mg, 20-mg and 40-mg strengths. The recall, which is taking place with the "full knowledge" of the Food and Drug Administration, does not affect the 80-mg strength of the drug, the company said.

The drug maker said select batches of the drug may contain small glass particles less than 1 millimeter in size.

Ranbaxy received Food and Drug Administration approval to market its generic version of Lipitor in November 2011.


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PHARMACY

MinuteClinic, Virtua partner on services in southern New Jersey

BY Alaric DeArment

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — Physicians from a New Jersey-based healthcare provider will work at five MinuteClinic locations inside CVS/pharmacy stores in the state, under a new partnership.

MinuteClinic and Virtua on Tuesday announced the partnership, whereby the physicians will serve as medical directors at clinics in Burlington, Camden and Gloucester counties, while the two companies collaborate on patient education and disease management initiatives and inform patients of the services they offer, and Virtua will accept patients who need types of care that MinuteClinic doesn’t provide.

"Virtua’s reputation for clinical excellence and its proven track record for patient satisfaction were important factors in our decision to affiliate," MinuteClinic president and CVS Caremark SVP and associate chief medical officer Andrew Sussman said. "We look forward to having Virtua physicians collaborate with MinuteClinic practitioners to provide quality oversight, teaching and back-up so MinuteClinic can provide the best care at the lowest overall cost."

The two also plan to work to fully integrate electronic medical record systems to streamline communication, whereby patients can give permission for MinuteClinic to share medical histories and visit summaries with other Virtua locations.

"Virtua is committed to health and wellness and to providing easy access to quality health care," Virtua chief medical officer and EVP Jim Dwyer said. "This partnership enables us to achieve our mission of helping people be well, get well and stay well. Partnering with a quality organization like MinuteClinic makes it easier for people to fulfill their healthcare needs."


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Phone, mail reminders improve statin adherence, study finds

BY Alaric DeArment

PASADENA, Calif. — Automated phone and mail reminders increase the likelihood that patients with new prescriptions for cholesterol-lowering drugs will pick them up from the pharmacy, according to a new study.

Kaiser Permanente Southern California enrolled 5,216 patients and found that those receiving an automated reminder were 1.6 times more likely to fill prescriptions for statin drugs than those who didn’t receive reminders. The study was published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine Monday.

When patients didn’t pick up their drugs within one or two weeks of a doctor’s appointment, they received informational and encouraging phone calls and received a reminder letter if they still had not picked up the medication a week after the phone call. The phone and mail prompts cost $1.70 per patient, according to the study, and after the intervention, the percentage of patients who picked up their prescriptions increased from 26% to 42%.

"Getting patients to take the well-proven medicines their physicians prescribe them will ultimately reduce their risk of heart attacks and stroke," Kaiser Permanente Southern California researcher Stephen Derose said. "This automated intervention is a good way to very efficiently reach a large number of people and improve their health outcomes."


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