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BY DSN STAFF

Supplier News

A new, simple-to-use tool to help patients comply with complicated drug regimens now is available from EasyWay. The patented device, called Didit, can be attached to pill bottles or vials via an adhesive that can stick onto any container.

The Didit system uses tabs that can be reset simply by clicking up or down, indicating whether or not the patient has taken a medication on any given day. The system is deliberately simple and low-tech for ease of use, and consumers can choose between “Didit days” or “Didit numbers” depending on how they take their medications.

Pricing for a pack of three Didits starts at $2.99 retail. A combo pack of three also includes a Didit on a vial with “Try Me” packaging, for easier recognition of just what the product is and how it functions. Many pharmacies are purchasing the Didit in bulk and providing it as part of a loyalty giveaway to help their customers be more compliant, according to EasyWay founder and CEO Suzanne DuBarry.

“It didn’t make sense that there wasn’t a simple, easy solution for the everyday person,” she noted.

More information can be found at www.thedidit.com.

URL Pharma announced the availability of Colcrys (colchicine), designed to prevent and relieve pain from acute flares of gout, a form of arthritis caused by buildups of uric acid that is deposited as needle-like crystals in the joints and soft tissues.

The Food and Drug Administration originally approved Colcrys in July to treat gout flares, approving it in October to prevent them. The drug is available in the form of 0.6-mg tablets designed to be taken twice a day.

Generic drug maker Caraco Pharmaceutical Labs has launched its version of an injected hypertension drug, the U.S.-based subsidiary of India’s Sun Pharma announced.

Caraco launched nicardipine hydrochloride, which immediately followed the FDA’s approval of the drug. The drug is a generic version of EKR Therapeutics’ Cardene. Branded and generic versions of the drug have annual sales of $170 million, according to Caraco.

A substance familiar to diners at Mexican and Sichuan Chinese restaurants also is the active ingredient in a newly approved drug for treating pain resulting from shingles.

The FDA announced the approval of Qutenza, a patch made by Andernach, Germany-based Lohmann Therapy Systems. The patch uses capsaicin, the compound that gives chili peppers their bite, to treat pain from postherpetic neuralgia. PHN occurs in more than 10% of patients who have had shingles, an outbreak of rash and blisters on the skin caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox.

The FDA said Qutenza was the first pure, concentrated, synthetic capsaicin-containing prescription drug to undergo review by the agency and gain approval.

“This new product can provide effective pain relief for patients who suffer from PHN,” FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research Division of Anesthesia, Analgesia and Rheumatology Products director Bob Rappaport said.

The world’s largest drug maker plans to tackle rare tropical diseases. Pfizer announced a partnership with Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative under which the two will develop drugs to treat human African trypanosomiasis, visceral leishmaniasis and Chagas disease.

DNDI will have access to a library of 150,000 compounds that it will test against the three diseases, seeking compounds that work against the parasites. DNDI scientists will conduct the tests for human African trypanosomiasis at the Eskitis Institute for Cell and Molecular Therapies at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia, while tests for the other two diseases will take place at the Institut Pasteur Korea.

Sleep will soon come in spray form. Drug maker Hi-Tech Pharmacal announced a $3 million agreement with NovaDel Pharma to market Zolpimist (zolpidem tartrate), an oral spray for short-term treatment of insomnia. Under the agreement, Hi-Tech subsidiary ECR Pharmaceuticals paid the money to NovaDel in exchange for the right to market Zolpimist in the United States and Canada.

ECR plans to launch Zolpimist in the United States during the first half of 2010.

“The addition of Zolpimist enhances our portfolio of differentiated branded prescription products,” Hi-Tech president and CEO David Seltzer stated. “We believe that Zolpimist fits very well with ECR’s current line of products, which are promoted to primary care physicians.”

Biotech company Genentech, a subsidiary of Roche, is hoping to squeeze another use out of a cancer drug.

Genentech announced that it had submitted two applications to the FDA seeking approval of Avastin (bevacizumab) as a first-line treatment for patients with advanced breast cancer who have not received chemotherapy. One application seeks approval for Avastin combined with docetaxel chemotherapy, while the other seeks approval for the drug combined with taxane, anthracycline-based or capecitabine chemotherapy. Avastin already has approval as a first-line treatment for advanced breast cancer in combination with paclitaxel chemotherapy.

“We look forward to working with the FDA to evaluate the data from more than 2,600 women with advanced breast cancer who participated in these studies that showed Avastin, in combination with various chemotherapies, helped them live longer without the disease worsening,” Genentech EVP global development and chief medical officer Hal Barron stated.

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Hy-Vee names new president

BY Alaric DeArment

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa A 28-year employee of Hy-Vee has become its new president, according to published reports.

The company appointed Randall Edeker as president of the supermarket chain Thursday at the company’s annual meeting, succeeding Ric Jurgens, who had served as president since 2001 and will maintain his position as chairman and CEO.

Edeker had previously served as EVP and COO.

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Tricare expands vaccination coverage to pharmacies, clinics

BY DSN STAFF

NEW YORK Convenience and value. That’s what community pharmacy and their retail clinic partners deliver to their patients. And that’s what the Department of Defense is counting on in covering immunizations at local pharmacies and identifying convenient care clinics as network providers — two separate pieces of news issued within the past month that really underscore the importance of pharmacies and retail clinics in the delivery of health care today.

Prior to these announcements, military personnel interested in getting their flu shots had to schedule an appointment with their doctor, as Tricare only covered the cost of shots delivered in a doctor’s office.

“As a convenient and accessible healthcare provider, pharmacy is uniquely positioned to offer services for patients, such as vaccinations,” stated Steve Anderson, president and CEO for the National Association of Chain Drug Stores. Anderson noted that as of earlier this year, pharmacists have the ability to immunize patients in all 50 states. “[This] presents an important opportunity for pharmacists to counsel patients during their visit, and an additional healthcare provider from which to obtain these vaccinations.”

It’s also quite a bit of opportunity for pharmacy — Tricare provides healthcare coverage for 9.5 million eligible beneficiaries. Those beneficiaries pick up almost 2.3 million prescriptions every week, and 1.2 million of those at retail pharmacies, according to Tricare .

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