PHARMACY

Report: FDA scientist charged with insider trading

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — One could say that a job with the Food and Drug Administration would be the perfect way to get information about upcoming drug approvals and use it to profit handsomely from buying stock in the companies that manufacture the drugs before the information reaches the public.

Of course, the Securities and Exchange Commission would consider that illegal insider trading, as one FDA scientist recently discovered.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the SEC charged FDA chemist Liang Chengyi with insider trading on 19 publicly traded companies. The SEC alleged that Liang, an FDA employee since 1996, used confidential information about drug approvals to trade on stocks before it was officially announced, making more than $3.6 million in profits.

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PHARMACY

Rite Aid gears up to vaccinate patients ages 50 years, older for shingles

BY Alaric DeArment

CAMP HILL, Pa. — A decision by the Food and Drug Administration to lower the age at which patients can receive a vaccine for shingles opens the door for pharmacists to administer it to more patients.

Rite Aid said Tuesday that pharmacists at more than 2,100 of its stores now could vaccinate patients ages 50 years and older with Merck’s Zostavax (zoster vaccine live) thanks to the FDA’s approval of the vaccination for patients in that age group. Previously, it was only approved for patients ages 60 years and older.

“The new FDA recommendation means that Rite Aid pharmacists can now help a much wider range of patients protect themselves from this painful nerve disease,” Rite Aid EVP pharmacy Robert Thompson said. “The vaccine can often be administered to walk-in patients, making it an easy decision to get vaccinated against shingles.”

Shingles is a painful disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. While symptoms of chickenpox disappear in most children after a week or so, the virus, a form of herpes virus, remains in the nerve cells. Later in life, a compromised immune system or old age can reactivate the virus, resulting in shingles.

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PHARMACY

APhA emphasizes pharmacists’ role at front of healthcare line

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — The American Pharmacists Association wants to ensure that pharmacists continue to play a significant role in health care, and made the pharmacist’s ever-expanding role the main focus of its annual meeting in Seattle, which ended Monday.

“APhA’s strategic focus is on advancing the practice model and recognizing the pharmacist as an essential member of the healthcare team, empowering members to engage in expanded patient-care roles, advocating for the profession and patients, and growing leaders for APhA and pharmacy practice,” incoming president and Columbus, Ohio-based pharmacist Marialice Bennett said in her address, titled “Perseverance Will Lead to a Stronger Tomorrow.”

The conference, which drew more than 6,500 attendees, focused on such topics as medication therapy management, adherence, the Food and Drug Administration’s Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies, and pharmacogenomics.

“We have done remarkable work to build a globally recognized association and to ensure our profession’s future,” Bennett said. “But we can never rest when so many of our patients are struggling or when the miracles these medications can represent go unrealized. It is our responsibility to transition from making and providing medications for our patients to making medications work for our patients. As a profession, we must serve as the [medication therapy management] pharmacist for the American public and help patients make the best of their medications.”

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