PHARMACY

195 million doses of H1N1 flu vaccine to be distributed

BY DSN STAFF

NEW YORK No matter where that H1N1 vaccine is eventually disseminated to a waiting and acutely aware public — be it the corner pharmacy or the school gymnasium down the street — this year’s flu season featuring the novel H1N1 virus is expected to have a profound impact on pharmacy, and pharmacy is poised to take its place center stage.

 

The impact of the novel H1N1 flu this year ought to raise awareness around what pharmacies and convenient clinic partners bring to the healthcare table in several key ways. For example, neighborhood pharmacies are homes to efficient and practiced execution of healthcare delivery through knowledgeable providers, as well as serving as a virtual cold and flu clearinghouse for all products, including Tamiflu/Relenza antivirals, hand sanitizers, disinfectants, N-95 masks, medical-grade latex and non-latex gloves and a score of over-the-counter cold and flu remedies.

 

More importantly, it doesn’t look as though pharmacy is being overlooked for the advantages the channel provides versus other possible venues. Both retail pharmacy and retail clinic executives have been in steady contact with state and local government officials since May.

And just last week, the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials released specific guidance titled An Operational Framework for Partnering with Pharmacies for the Administration of 2009 H1N1 Vaccine. So the constant outreach on behalf of pharmacies has certainly struck a chord with state healthcare officials.

“We are talking about agencies that are stretched to their limits under normal circumstances,” stated ASTHO executive director Paul Jarris. “Bringing pharmacies into prevention efforts will help take some pressure off state health agencies and traditional healthcare providers. This new guidance will streamline logistics so our focus can be on the most important issue at hand, protecting the public’s health.

ASTHO consulted with a number of leading pharmacy associations for help in creating the guidance, notably: the American Pharmacists Association, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the National Community Pharmacists Association and Rx Response among several others.

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PHARMACY

HIV vaccine ‘modestly effective’ in late-stage clinical trial

BY Alaric DeArment

LYON, France A late-stage clinical trial may have turned up something that researchers have awaited for nearly 30 years: an HIV vaccine that works.

Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of French drug maker Sanofi-Aventis, announced Thursday that results of a 16,000-patient phase 3 trial conducted in Thailand over the last six years, with sponsorship from the U.S. Army Surgeon General and execution by the Thai Ministry of Public Health, indicate that a two-vaccine regimen for HIV is safe and “modestly” effective in preventing infection by the virus that causes AIDS.

According to final results, to be presented in Paris next month, the prime-boost combination of Sanofi Pasteur’s ALVAC HIV and VaxGen’s AIDSVAX B/E lowered the rate of HIV infection by 31.2% compared with placebo.

“Albeit modest, the reduction of risk of HIV infection is statistically significant,” Sanofi Pasteur SVP research and development Michel DeWilde said in a statement. “This is the first concrete evidence, since the discovery of the virus in 1983, that a vaccine against HIV is eventually feasible.”

DeWilde said further work would be needed to develop and test a vaccine suitable for licensure and worldwide use.

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PHARMACY

Study finds chronic disease prevention reduces medical costs

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK Prevention of such chronic diseases as diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure improves the lives of older Americans and also reduces medical costs, a new study found.

The study, conducted by Dana Goldman of RAND Corp. and colleagues, appeared in the Sept. 17 online edition and in the November print issue of the American Journal of Public Health. The researchers looked at a group of adults ages 51 to 52, and found that life longevity when chronic diseases were avoided increased between  0.85 and 3.44 years, depending on which disease was prevented.

In addition to these findings, the researchers also found lifetime medical costs would be saved: Preventing obesity would save $7,168; preventing high blood pressure would save $13,702; and preventing diabetes would save $34,483. However, the lifetime medical costs for a person who quits smoking would be $15,959 higher, the researchers noted.

“Our data indicate that primary prevention could improve the health and longevity of future cohorts of elderly persons in the United States at a relatively low cost,” the researchers concluded.

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