PHARMACY

Spectrum, Viropro to develop biosimilar

BY Alaric DeArment

IRVINE, Calif. — A U.S. biotech company plans to develop a biosimilar of a monoclonal antibody used to treat cancers and autoimmune disorders.

Spectrum Pharmaceuticals announced Wednesday a deal with Viropro to develop a biosimilar rituximab, marketed under the brand name Rituxan by Roche’s Genentech division. Global sales of rituximab in 2009 were $5.6 billion, according to Spectrum.

“We are excited at the opportunity to develop our own proprietary biosimilar formulation of rituximab in anticipation of patent expirations for rituximab over the coming years,” Spectrum CEO Rajesh Shrotriya said.

The healthcare-reform bill, which President Barack Obama signed into law in 2010, created a regulatory approval pathway for biosimilars, also known as follow-on biologics, and some analysts expected the Food and Drug Administration to have draft regulations written by the end of this year, though it may take a few years before final regulations appear.

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PHARMACY

NCPDP summit to explore emerging technologies

BY Jim Frederick

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The National Council for Prescription Drug Programs said Wednesday it would host an educational summit on the use and impact of new pharmacy and health-integration technologies next month in Las Vegas.

NCPDP’s educational forum, "Leveraging New Technologies: Impact on the Patient and Healthcare Industry," will take place Feb. 8 at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. The summit will preview the latest innovations that keep the pharmacy industry leading the charge for automation in healthcare to improve quality and efficiency, according to the not-for-profit pharmacy standards development organization.

The summit is intended for pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, payers, HIT vendors, pharmacies, processors, producers, healthcare providers, clinicians, patient advocates and others “interested in taking a closer look at the pharmacy of the future,” NCPDP noted.

Among the topics to be explored:

  • Technology advancements and emerging technologies;

  • The evolving role of pharmacists as essential members of the healthcare team;

  • Mobile health applications and devices and their role in consumer health guidance and engagement; and

  • Large-scale pharmacy automation that exceeds Six-Sigma accuracy.

Among the featured speakers will be Paul Oesterman, associate professor of pharmacy practice for the University of Southern Nevada College of Pharmacy; Robert Oscar, president of RxEOB; Robert Franz, director of clinical outcomes for Medco; Rick Sage, VP clinical practice for Emdeon; and Wayne Armstrong, SVP for Argus Health Systems. Paul Hooper, VP pharmacy network services for Emdeon, will moderate.

Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians who attend this program will be able to earn continuing education credits provided by AmerisourceBergen. Click here to register.

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Pharmacy practice pioneer Paul Lofholm tapped for APhA’s Remington Honor Medal

BY Jim Frederick

WASHINGTON — The American Pharmacists Association on Wednesday announced the winners of its Remington Honor Medal and other professional awards.

Named the 2011 Remington recipient is Paul Lofholm, president of Ross Valley Pharmacy in Larkspur, Calif. Lofholm was tapped for APhA’s highest honor for his “lifelong work in continuing education, advancement of pharmacy practice and support of student pharmacist programs,” the organization said. APhA members who nominated Lofholm for the honor spoke of his “contagious” positive attitude toward the profession, his efforts to mentor younger pharmacists and his work on behalf of many pharmacy groups.

The Remington Honor Medal, named for community pharmacist, manufacturer and educator Joseph Remington, was established in 1918 to recognize distinguished service on behalf of American pharmacy. The Remington Medal and other APhA awards will be bestowed during the venerable pharmacy organization’s Annual Meeting and Exposition in Seattle this March.

A PharmD graduate from the University of California, Lofholm has more than 40 years’ experience in the pharmacy profession and has served on numerous professional advisory committees and organizational boards. Besides running a community pharmacy business, he is clinical professor of pharmacy at the University of California, San Francisco, and an adjunct clinical professor of pharmacy at the University of the Pacific and Touro University.

“Paul’s long history of dedicated service is outstanding by any measure, as are his unrelenting contributions to the advancement of our profession,” wrote one supporter. “He is a pioneer in continuing education, patient monitoring and clinical pharmacy, all of which he advocated and advanced. Furthermore, as one of the nation’s first PharmD clinical instructors, he has precepted hundreds of students, further contributing to the future of pharmacy.”

Among other pharmacists gaining recognition for their efforts, APhA announced that Thomas Temple, EVP of the Iowa Pharmacy Association, would receive this year’s Hugo H. Schaefer Award. “Temple was chosen for his leadership of a well-integrated state organization of community and institutional pharmacy practitioners and dedication to serving the profession,” the organization noted.

Temple also was cited for his commitment to payment reform, the implementation of broad-based pharmaceutical care and dedication to the mentoring and development of student pharmacists, according to APhA.

Tapped for APhA’s Hubert H. Humphrey Award is Wendall Gaston, a Safeway pharmacy manager in Sidney, Nebraska. Gaston was honored “in recognition of his lifelong dedication to the profession of pharmacy and passion for healthcare, politics, community and public service, as well as his commitment to make life better for the citizens of Sidney and state of Nebraska,” the APhA noted.

The award, named for Hubert H. Humphrey, a noted pharmacist and former VP of the United States, was established in 1978 to recognize APhA members who have made major contributions in government and legislative service at the local, state or national level.

Julie Johnson, EVP and CEO of the Minnesota Pharmacists Association, will be honored in March with the APhA Gloria Niemeyer Francke Leadership Mentor Award. Johnson’s recognition stems in part from her mentoring efforts among young pharmacists, said the organization, including “serving as an indispensable resource of professional advice for the 400-plus PharmD students on the Twin Cities campus of the University of Minnesota.”

APhA also announced that Jeff Poston, executive director of the Canadian Pharmacists Association, has been awarded honorary membership for 2011. Poston was recognized for advocating the growth of the CPhA and his work on activities that have expanded pharmacist-provided patient care services to community pharmacies.

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