PHARMACY

Walgreens assists customers in making transition to Medicare Part D plans

BY Jenna Duncan

DEERFIELD, Ill. Walgreens has stated that it will offer services to patients whose prescription drug coverage could be affected by enrolling in, or due to changes with, Medicare Part D.

Between now and Dec. 31, pharmacists at about 6,544 Walgreens locations are offering assistance to seniors to help look over their plans and reviews for changes in cost or coverage. After reviewing the list of medications each patient is taking, Walgreens pharmacists will generate a personal report that shows annual costs, monthly premiums and the options for brand-name or generic medications for each patient.

The pharmacists can also determine whether patients are eligible for Extra Help subsidies to pay for prescription drugs.

“We urge people not to assume their plans will remain the same for 2009,” Kermit Crawford, senior vice president of pharmacy at Walgreens said. “Many plans have made significant increases in premiums or changes to medications covered. Our report simplifies the decision-making process by providing information tailored for each individual in a way that makes it easy to compare options. … Walgreens also recommends that seniors who switch plans or those enrolling in Part D for the first time do so well before the Dec. 31 deadline in order to ensure processing is complete before they need to refill prescriptions in early January.”

For more information, or to generate a personal report, patients can visit www.walgreens.com/medicare.

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FDA, SciClone meet agreement on distribution of melanoma treatment

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK The Food and Drug Administration has reached an agreement with a drug maker on the design of a phase 3 trial of a skin cancer drug.

SciClone Pharmaceuticals announced Monday that it had reached the agreement with the agency concerning the drug thymalfasin, which it sees as a potential treatment for stage 4 melanoma.

“Patients suffering from stage 4 melanoma have very few treatment options available,” SciClone chief medical officer Israel Rios said in a statement. “Based on the positive data from an earlier phase 2 trial, thymalfasin could provide new treatment modalities for this high unmet medical need.”

The drug, if approved, will be sold under the brand name Zadaxin. The full name of its active ingredient is thymosin alpha 1.

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Teva releases generic version of AstraZeneca’s Pulmicort

BY Alaric DeArment

NORTH WALES, Pa. The world’s largest maker of generic drugs has introduced a generic version of AstraZeneca’s Pulmicort Respules.

Teva announced Wednesday that it had launched budesonide inhalation suspension, a treatment for asthma, in 0.25-mg-per-2-milliliters and 0.5-mg-per-2-milliliter strengths.

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