PHARMACY

Rite Aid rolls out seasonal flu shots

BY David Salazar

Ahead of flu season, Rite Aid on Friday announced the availability of seasonal flu shots at more than 2,500 of its pharmacies. The company said that on the heels of a vicious flu season, earlier is better for immunization.

“Last year’s flu season was one of the most severe seasons in recent years, with high flu activity across the country and a record number of flu-related hospitalizations,” said Jocelyn Konrad, Rite Aid executive vice president of pharmacy. “Since we can’t predict what this flu season will be like, we urge everyone to get a flu shot at Rite Aid today, because getting vaccinated is the easiest and most effective way to fight the flu.”

Rite Aid is offering a quadrivalent flu vaccine, which protects against four strains of flu — A H3N2, A H1N1 and two strains of influenza B virus. It also offers a trivalent vaccine and Fluad, a trivalent vaccine with adjuvant, which helps boost the immune response to vaccination and is approved for patients 65 years old and older.

Rite Aid said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend everyone six months old and older get a flu vaccination. In particular, older patients, people with diabetes, pregnant women and patients with asthma and other chronic lung disease, as well as patients with kidney and liver disorders, heart disease and those with compromised immune systems.

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CoverMyMeds: Many scripts unfilled due to high cost of medications

BY Sandra Levy

Seventy-five percent of patients have been prescribed a medication that cost more than they expected, and 50% did not fill the prescription because of the high cost, according to research from the 2018 Real-Time Benefit Check National Adoption Scorecard,  published by CoverMyMeds, which is part of McKesson Prescription Technology Solutions.

The report utilizes new survey data, market research and industry statistics to present a comprehensive overview of real-time benefit check, a technology innovation that surfaces patient-specific prescription benefit details at the point of prescribing. The 2018 Real-Time Benefit Check National Adoption Scorecard introduces original research conducted by CoverMyMeds in partnership with SHC Universal and Research Now.

“With high-deductible plans on the rise, many patients are required to pay more for their medications before they meet their deductible. Patients also have limited visibility into the cost of their prescription prior to leaving the provider’s office, and as a result, are more likely to abandon their prescription at the pharmacy,” University of Virginia Health System pharmacy patient medical access principal coordinator Melissa Paige said, in a press statement. “Real-time benefit check solutions can drive better adherence by providing visibility into medication costs at the point of prescribing. And, as the 2018 Real-Time Benefit Check National Adoption Scorecard reveals, these solutions must be accurate, reliable and have the ability to provide a full picture of the patient’s benefit information.”

The report also found the following:

  • Thirty- seven percent of patients stopped taking a medication because it was too expensive.
  • Seventy- four percent of providers agree that it would be valuable to know about available patient assistance programs at the point of prescribing.
  • Eighty-three percent of electronic health records are committed to providing a real-time benefit check solution to providers at the point of care.

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FDA approves Kyowa Kirin’s Poteligeo for 2 types of rare cancer

BY Sandra Levy

Kyowa Kirin received clearance from the Food and Drug Administration for Poteligeo (mogamulizumab-kpkc) injection for intravenous use for the treatment of adult patients with relapsed or refractory mycosis fungoides (MF) or Sézary syndrome (SS) after at least one prior systemic therapy. This approval provides a new treatment option for patients with MF and is the first FDA approval of a drug specifically for SS, the agency said upon announcing the drug’s approval.

“Mycosis fungoides and Sézary syndrome are rare, hard-to-treat types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and this approval fills an unmet medical need for these patients,” said Richard Pazdur. director of FDA’s Oncology Center of Excellence, and acting director of the Office of Hematology and Oncology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “We are committed to continuing to expedite the development and review of this type of targeted therapy that offers meaningful treatments for patients.”

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a cancer that starts in white blood cells called lymphocytes, which are part of the body’s immune system. MF and SS are types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in which lymphocytes become cancerous and affect the skin. MF accounts for about half of all lymphomas arising from the skin. It causes itchy red rashes and skin lesions and can spread to other parts of the body. SS is a rare form of skin lymphoma that affects the blood and lymph nodes.

Poteligeo is a monoclonal antibody that binds to a protein (called CC chemokine receptor type 4 or CCR4) found on some cancer cells.

The FDA said approval was based on a clinical trial of 372 patients with relapsed MF or SS who received either Poteligeo or a type of chemotherapy called vorinostat. Progression-free survival, or the amount of time a patient stays alive without the cancer growing was longer for patients taking Poteligeo (median 7.6 months) compared to patients taking vorinostat (median 3.1 months), according to the FDA.

The FDA said it granted this application Priority Review and Breakthrough Therapy designation. Poteligeo also received Orphan Drug designation, which provides incentives to assist and encourage the development of drugs for rare diseases.

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