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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HIE, mobile technology dominate conversations at HIMSS

A few weeks ago, we joined some 37,000 of our closest friends for the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) annual conference. HIMSS is a cause-based, not-for-profit organization focused on providing global leadership for the optimal use of information technology and management systems for the betterment of health care.

The annual conference not only brought a huge crowd, but this year experienced record-breaking first time attendance and offered participants more than 300 educational opportunities. One week almost wasn’t enough time!

During the conference, there were a few trends that resounded with the pharmacy portion of the audience. Healthcare Information Exchange (HIE) was certainly a theme, and many conversations involved organizational willingness to participate in HIE initiatives for the betterment of health care. Many agree that exchanging patient medication history electronically with providers can enhance patient care.

Further, several educational sessions addressed performing the exchange of such patient medication history in real-time. When a patient has provided consent for the caregiver to access his or her information, the caregiver should be able to access that information quickly. We continue to explore proactive ways to provide real-time patient medication histories to the physician end-users.

Another burgeoning theme at HIMSS was the concept of providing e-prescribing services in a non-EDI environment. While the pharmacy industry has experienced a major move toward e-prescribing, there are still providers and pharmacies that operate in nontechnical ways. How can we best serve both communities in an era of meaningful use incentives? And, as e-prescribing continues to provide better patient outcomes while also improving the cost of health care, many are asking, "what’s next?"  

At HIMSS, there was quite a buzz around mobile technology as well. Thought leaders believe it may be time to get the patient more involved in the e-prescribing workflow process. Text messaging and other forms of communication could prove to be effective in helping the patient stay connected when it comes to his or her electronic  prescriptions. These types of communications also can enable pharmacies to provide important healthcare messages to the patient, meanwhile keeping the patient informed about a variety of pertinent pharmacy topics. Whether, for example, it is providing messaging to the patient that prescriptions are available for pickup or that the local pharmacy has scheduled a flu clinic, timely alerts to the patient can have multiple healthcare benefits.

Overall, HIMSS was a jam-packed, educational and informative conference, and it was truly a benefit to gather the various parties together to work toward “transforming health care through IT.”


Richard Brook
VP of pharmacy sales
Richard Brook is VP of pharmacy sales for Emdeon and is responsible for enterprise-wide sales of pharmacy solutions that simplify the prescription process and increase efficiency, accuracy and profitability for 60,000 chain and community pharmacies nationwide. He also supports pharmacy connectivity needs for Emdeon’s payer and prescription benefit manager customers.

Lathe Bigler
Senior director of clinical services for the pharmacy services division
Lathe Bigler serves as Emdeon’s senior director of clinical services for the pharmacy services division. His focus on developing layers of competitive advantage and increasing market growth are instrumental in Emdeon’s advancement in the exchange of electronic prescriptions and other clinical information. Lathe has more than 15 years experience in healthcare and information technology fields and has held roles in marketing, product management, business development and industry relations with such corporations as NDC Health, Midmark Diagnostics, DrFirst and AltaPoint Data Systems. Lathe has a bachelor’s degree in marketing and business administration.

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