PHARMACY

Zostavax now approved for patients ages 50 years and older

BY Alaric DeArment

SILVER SPRING, Md. — The Food and Drug Administration has approved a vaccine for shingles in older patients.

The agency said Thursday that it had approved Merck’s Zostavax (zoster vaccine live) vaccine in patients ages 50 to 59 years. The vaccine already is approved for those ages 60 years and older.

Shingles, caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox, affects about 200,000 people in the United States ages 50 to 59 years each year.

While chickenpox mostly affects children, the virus lies dormant in certain nerves in the body, sometimes coming back in the form of shingles later in life, usually in older patients and in those with weakened immune systems.

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PHARMACY

NCPA, healthcare groups recommend CMS delay ‘short cycle’ rule

BY Allison Cerra

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — In a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the National Community Pharmacists Association and 20 healthcare groups expressed their concerns over the proposed Medicare Part D long-term care “short cycle” rule.

The groups recommended that CMS postpone its implementation of a rule that would require dispensing certain prescription medications in seven-day supplies or less, rather than the traditional 30-day supply.

“Industry shares CMS’ interest in reducing waste in the provision of pharmaceuticals,” the letter stated. “Pharmacies currently utilize a number of different techniques in an attempt to achieve this goal, including the use of shorter dispensing cycles for a limited number of expensive medications, automated dispensing systems and drug take-back and credit programs. However, the relative costs and effectiveness of these techniques in reducing waste have not been adequately studied or reported in peer-reviewed literature.

“[We recommend that] CMS postpone its implementation for seven-day-or-less dispensing (using authority granted by the implementing statute to allow the effective date to be for plan years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2012) while conducting a proper analysis of the rule’s true costs by using a comprehensive study or pilot of realistic dispensing options,” the letter concluded.

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CVS Caremark Charitable Trust donates $50K to Boston Medical Center

BY Antoinette Alexander

BOSTON — Boston Medical Center announced that it has received a $50,000 grant for the Autism Clinic from CVS Caremark Charitable Trust, the private foundation created by CVS Caremark.

BMC is one of 72 organizations selected from a pool of 660 applicants to receive an individual or multiyear grant for 2010. The grant will allow the Autism Clinic to develop a written behavioral curriculum for hands-on training for parents with low income and/or limited-English proficiency.

The grant also will provide resources for additional intensive skill-building services for individuals who participate in seminars and require continued support and guidance. An additional education specialist also will be hired, thereby doubling the clinic’s capacity to meet the demand for educational advocacy services.

"In today’s challenging economy, it’s more important than ever to support organizations that truly make a difference in the lives of children and families," stated Eileen Howard Boone, VP CVS Caremark Charitable Trust. "The CVS Caremark Charitable Trust is pleased to recognize BMC’s Autism Clinic for truly making an impact in the communities we serve, and we look forward to working with them in the year ahead."

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