PHARMACY

Walgreens announces comprehensive flu shot program

BY Allison Cerra

DEERFIELD, Ill. Walgreens is gearing up to offer unprecedented access to flu shots, making immunizations available at all Walgreens locations and Take Care Clinics nationwide, as well as Duane Reade stores.

Only one flu shot is required this season, as the 2010-2011 flu vaccine will protect against H1N1 as well as two other seasonal flu viruses –– an influenza B and H3N2 virus, Walgreens said. The drug store chain said that it would provide vaccinations during its operating hours at both its retail pharmacies and retail health clinic locations, no appointment necessary. Additionally, all Duane Reade locations will provide flu vaccinations by September, with many already offering immunizations.

State, age and health condition-related restrictions may apply.

“We encourage everyone to follow the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s] recommendations, and with flu shots available during nearly all pharmacy and clinic hours at Walgreens, it’s never been easier, never more convenient and never more accessible,” said Walgreens president and CEO Greg Wasson. “Our expansive network of 25,000 immunizers and other healthcare professionals are there when you need us. By providing quality, affordable, preventive healthcare services like flu shots in communities across America, we’ll again play an important role in helping people stay well throughout the flu season.”

In related news, Walgreens also announced that it will offer a direct medical billing option to customers through several insurance carriers, which will allow patients in select plans to have their flu shot billed to their insurance provider without hassle.

Other features and services new to this season’s Walgreens flu shot program include:

  • Individual privacy areas – privacy screens provide more personal privacy within the pharmacy setting for flu shot patients, immunizations and other patient care services;
  • Evening and weekend hours – for the first time flu shots are available during nearly all pharmacy and clinic hours daily; walk-ins are welcome;
  • Online tools – flu shot forms are available online at Walgreens.com/flu as a time-saving tool, enabling patients to complete necessary forms prior to visiting the pharmacy (not available for vaccinations administered at Take Care Clinics or Duane Reade pharmacies); and
  • The retail cash price for flu shots at all Walgreens points of care is $29.99. Most Walgreens also will offer the FluMist Intranasal Spray, which is $34.99. Fluzone HD, a high-dose influenza vaccine, also may be available to qualified individuals.

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FDA approves emergency contraceptive Ella

BY Alaric DeArment

SILVER SPRING, Md. The Food and Drug Administration has approved an emergency contraceptive pill made by a French drug maker.

 

The FDA announced the approval of Ella (ulipristal acetate), designed to prevent pregnancy when taken orally within five days of unprotected sex or contraceptive failure, though it is not designed for routine use as a contraceptive.

 

 

The drug, which works by preventing ovulation, is manufactured by Paris-based Laboratoire HRA Pharma and distributed by Morristown, N.J.-based Watson. Watson said it plans to launch the drug in the fourth quarter of this year.

 

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Meda ventures into generic drugs

BY Alaric DeArment

SOMERSET, N.J. A lot of generic drug companies have conducted business in the branded drug market on the side for a long time, with Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and Watson Pharmaceuticals standing out as good examples. But lately, some branded drug companies have sought to get into generics as well.

Meda Pharmaceuticals, the U.S. subsidiary of Swedish drug maker Meda A.B., recently decided to create its own generics subsidiary, calling it Wallace Pharmaceuticals, senior marketing director John White told Drug Store News.

“The strategy demonstrates Meda’s efforts to diversify and align and better serve the needs [and] interest of our customers,” White said. “We believe our ability to provide consistency in therapeutic effect, manufacturing and supply to our parent company’s branded products will prove to be a competitive advantage for Wallace Pharmaceuticals.”

Wallace will focus its business in the United States, with a core portfolio of allergy and pain medicines, White said. The company currently has no plans to enter the biosimilars market, however.

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