PHARMACY

Screening for allergens

BY Michael Johnsen

More pharmacy retailers are offering allergy screenings to their patients at no charge. And while the cost for the testing can be considerable — allergy screenings can run upward of $500 — the service is an additional way pharmacies and clinics can get closer to the communities they serve by offering an important service to parents.

According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, as many as 54.6% of the American population would test positive to one or more allergens. More than half of all households have at least six detectable allergens present, and allergic disease impacts the lives of as many as 50 million Americans.

This past fall, Giant Eagle and Chattem partnered on free in-store allergy screenings for adults older than 18 years. Patients provided a small blood sample that was then submitted to a laboratory for analysis for the 10 most common allergens: milk, wheat, egg, cat dander, timothy grass, Bermuda grass, mountain cedar, ragweed, mold and dust mite.

And in March, Sam’s Club once again offered free allergy health screenings in select locations across the country.

To learn more, click here.

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PHARMACY

Three generic versions of psychiatric drug launched

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — Three companies have launched generic versions of a psychiatric drug made by AstraZeneca following a court decision turning down the Anglo-Swedish drug maker’s request for an injunction against the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the generics.

Dr. Reddy’s Labs, Teva and Mylan announced Wednesday the launch of their respective versions of quetiapine fumarate tablets, generic formulations of AstraZeneca’s Seroquel, in strengths ranging from 25 mg to 400 mg.

The drug is used to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression. The branded version had sales of $4.6 billion in 2011, according to IMS Health.

On Monday, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed AstraZeneca’s lawsuit against the FDA. In September 2011, the drug maker had asked the FDA to withhold approval of generic versions of the drug whose labeling didn’t include warnings about risks of elevated blood sugar and suicide that the agency had required AstraZeneca to include, but the FDA declined, prompting the company to file suit.


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PHARMACY

NCPA releases program for Legislative Conference meeting

BY Michael Johnsen

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The National Community Pharmacists Association on Monday released the program for its 2012 Legislative Conference meeting, which will bring community pharmacists and some of Washington, D.C.’s most senior decision-makers together to discuss pressing healthcare and pharmacy issues.
 
“With important pharmacy issues pending in Washington this year, pharmacists must get in the game,” NCPA SVP government affairs John Coster said. “In addition, regardless of who seizes power in the upcoming elections, 2013 will be an important year for pharmacy that requires the direct engagement of independent community pharmacists now.”
 
The current program for NCPA’s 2012 Legislative Conference includes discussions of the following:

  • Medicare issues with Jonathan Blum, deputy administrator and director, Center for Medicare of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services;

  • Federal Medicaid policy with Cindy Mann, deputy administrator and director, Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services for CMS;

  • Recent merger activity and other antirust policy with top staff from the Federal Trade Commission and the Senate Judiciary Committee;

  • Congressional healthcare policy with leading members of Congress and senior staff of the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees;

  • The Department of Defense Tricare pharmacy benefit with Tricare’s Rear Admiral Thomas McGinnis; and

  • Pharmacy crime, long-term care, state healthcare policy and the upcoming elections.

The meeting will be held May 7 to 9 in Washington, D.C. Participants receive up to 11 contact hours in continuing education credit, the association noted.

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