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Rx Response kicked into highest alert level as Hurricane Isaac made landfall

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — Rx Response, an initiative of America’s biopharmaceutical supply system to help ensure the continued flow of medicine to patients in a severe public health emergency, moved to its highest alert status last week as Hurricane Isaac made landfall in Louisiana and across the Gulf Coast.

In addition to elevating to Engaged status, Rx Response has activated an enhanced version of its Pharmacy Status Reporting Tool. The PSRT is an online program that allows emergency managers and the public to readily locate open pharmacies in communities that have been impacted by severe weather or other events. The tool was first developed by Rx Response in 2009, and the enhanced version reflects improvements made through a collaborative relationship between Walgreens and Rx Response.

Walgreens recently became the first U.S. pharmacy chain to provide status reports on its pharmacies directly to Rx Response. Previously, the PSRT only monitored electronic billing transmissions from pharmacies to insurance processing companies. When a pharmacy is transmitting electronic billing data, it is presumed open and Rx Response posts the pharmacy’s location on the PSRT‚Äôs interactive map on the www.RxResponse.org website. The direct reporting of information about the status of Walgreens pharmacies to Rx Response will enhance the timeliness of the information available to the public and emergency managers.

Rx Response is a single point of contact for the entire biopharmaceutical supply system and relies on a robust network that allows federal and state emergency management officials to communicate with Rx Response regarding pharmaceutical needs and other issues which may impact the supply system. The communications are actively monitored by all segments of the pharmaceutical supply system to ensure the fastest possible resolution.

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Patients to PBMs: Give us choices, not mandatory mail!

BY Jim Frederick

It’s no secret that managed care has steered millions of Americans into ordering their maintenance medications by mail. But pharmacy benefit managers should take note: Most patients don’t like the arrangement.

That much was clear from the results of an exclusive survey of nearly 800 patients conducted by AccentHealth and Drug Store News in late July and early August. Of the 90% of those patients who expressed a preference for a particular pharmacy channel as their chief source for prescription medicines, only 2% named a mail-order provider as their preferred pharmacy. You read that right: When given a choice, just 1-out-of-every-50 patients would rather get their scripts by mail.

That means the vast majority of survey respondents with a preference for one pharmacy over another said they’d rather have their prescriptions filled personally by their local retail pharmacist. Chain drug stores were the clear favorite, with 53% expressing a preference for that type of pharmacy outlet, but mass merchants, supermarkets, independent pharmacies and club stores also easily outranked the mail-order option.

The poll was conducted for Patient Views, a new, exclusive consumer insights feature that will be appear in every edition of DSN magazine and the daily e-newsletter DSN A.M.

DSN editor-in-chief Rob Eder called the findings "a strong indication that pharmacy retailers need to pump more investment into pharmacy customer engagement and efforts to transform the drug store from just a dispensary of prescriptions to a destination for a broader array of health services."

If you’re a practicing pharmacist, you’ve probably encountered patients who expressed their views, pro or con, about the mail option. You can share those views by clicking on the link below. As always, I’d welcome your input.

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FDA approves smaller-dose Afinitor for rare brain tumor in children

BY Alaric DeArment

SILVER SPRING, Md. — The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new formulation of a cancer drug made by Novartis for a type of brain tumor in children, the agency said.

The FDA announced the approval of Afinitor Disperz (everolimus) tablets for oral suspension to treat a rare brain tumor called subependymal giant-cell astrocytoma, or SEGA. The agency said Afinitor Disperz, a new dosage form of the drug Afinitor, is the first pediatric-specific dosage form for a pediatric tumor to receive FDA approval.

The drug, designed to dissolve in water, is recommended for patients aged 1 year and older with tuberous sclerosis complex who are diagnosed with SEGA that can’t be treated with surgery. TSC is a rare genetic disease that causes tumors to grow in the brain and other vital organs, while SEGA is a slow-growing tumor that can cause life-threatening complications by blocking the flow of blood to the brain, occurring in 6-9% of TSC patients.


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