PHARMACY

Upsher-Smith commences late-stage trial for epilepsy treatment

BY Alaric DeArment

MAPLE GROVE, Minn. — Upsher-Smith Labs has started a late-stage clinical trial of a drug for treating patients with a rare and severe form of epilepsy, the drug maker said Monday.

The company announced the start of a phase-3 trial of USL261 (midazolam), a drug administered via the nose to stop seizures in patients on stable anti-epileptic drug regimens who have intermittent bouts of increased seizure activity, also known as seizure clusters, which affect about 152,000 Americans. The Food and Drug Administration has granted the medication orphan-drug designation, which the agency gives to drugs for treating conditions that affect fewer than 200,000 people in the United States.

The trial, “ARTEMIS1,” will compare the drug with placebo in patients ages 14 to 65 years.

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High adherence rates reported among patients in Walgreens’ HCV therapy management program

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens is recognizing medication adherence rates as high as 96% through its hepatitis C therapy management programs across its specialty pharmacy, the pharmacy operator announced Monday.

This comes as the Food and Drug Administration recently approved boceprevir and telaprevir, two new medications to improve HCV treatment. The newly approved drugs have been clinically shown to shorten the time required for treatment while increasing the patient response rate; however, this also comes with potentially higher costs for drug therapy. With these cost increases and complex prescribing regimens, Walgreens has developed the programs to help both patients and payers better manage disease treatment and lower patients’ overall healthcare costs.

The programs are offered through Walgreens specialty pharmacy and in store at more than 7,700 Walgreens community pharmacies nationwide.

“Adherence is a critical component of HCV treatment and significantly impacts a patient’s response rate and recovery,” said Cheryl Pegus, Walgreens chief medical officer. “Our clinicians work closely with patients both face-to-face at our community pharmacies and through our central specialty pharmacies. Having the ability to manage patients through multiple channels enables our clinicians to effectively address possible side effects, measure adherence, conduct interventions and also work in conjunction with physicians to ensure each patient is receiving personalized care and the best possible treatment regimen.”

Walgreens’ HCV therapy management program provides patients with a variety of services, regardless of whether they are receiving medication from the central specialty pharmacy (via home delivery) or through Walgreens retail locations. These services include:

  • Monthly adherence calls to inform patients about critical upcoming blood tests that are required to continue therapy, and to educate patients on how to maximize therapy results;

  • Next-day home delivery for medications;

  • Assistance programs to help patients minimize risk resulting from economic circumstances that may negatively impact therapy compliance;

  • Depression screenings with communications to pharmacists and physicians who are members of a patient’s care team;

  • Alerts for missed doses, at-risk patient behavior or serious adverse side effects that are communicated to a prescribing physician;

  • Clinical support line with healthcare professionals available around the clock;

  • Convenient access to hepatitis A and B vaccinations at select Walgreens nationwide; and

  • Shared patient prescription profiles among Walgreens’ network of more than 7,700 pharmacies and central fulfillment specialty pharmacies, enabling pharmacists to check for potential drug interactions and provide continuous patient education.

While Walgreens is working closely with patients to help them better manage their condition, on the payer level the company provides tools to help payers understand the FDA’s new “Response Guided Therapy” protocols associated with the new HCV treatments. Walgreens also provides detailed patient-level reporting that can alert payers to patients who may be at risk for nonadherence or off-label use, the company announced.

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USA Drug to open new store in Missouri

BY Michael Johnsen

DEXTER, Mo. — USA Drug will be combining Overturf DME Pharmacy and David’s Pharmacy under one banner as the company broke ground here on a new store, according to a Daily Statesman report published Sunday.

According to the report, the 15,000-sq.-ft. USA Drug pharmacy is expected to be up and running by Dec. 1. Both pharmacies will continue operations until the USA Drug is complete.

Pharmacists from both pharmacies will continue to wok at the new drug store to maintain continuity for the patients, USA Drug VP real estate Gain Robinson told The Daily Statesman.

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