PHARMACY

Air Force master sergeant Jessica Hughes named PTCB Certified Pharmacy Technician of the Year

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — A U.S. Air Force master sergeant has been named the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board’s Certified Pharmacy Technician of the Year, the PTCB said.

The PTCB announced that master sergeant Jessica Hughes, the non-commissioned officer in charge of pharmacy support at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, in New Jersey, was selected as the PTCB CPhT of the Year. The finalists also included Rico Powell and Linda Henson.

While deployed in Afghanistan, Hughes prepared 1,300 IV medications, 70% of the total workload, and provided drug therapy support to more than 900 patients, often finding herself leaned on as a pharmacist as well as a technician because she worked overnight shifts when no pharmacist was available.

"The experience opened my eyes to much more than what I normally see in a clinic setting," Hughes said. "I was called to traumas and had to make IVs and TPNs, and I was asked about things that were new to me, but I was depended upon to find answers."

Currently, at McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, Hughes oversees the vault, logistics and clinic inspections, playing an active role in frontline pharmacy operations, researching medication shortages and serving as a tobacco cessation instructor, achieving a 70% quit rate.

 

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PHARMACY

Depomed sells royalty, milestone interests in Type 2 diabetes drugs for $240.5 million

BY Alaric DeArment

NEWARK, Calif. — Drug maker Depomed has sold its interests in royalty and milestone payments for several Type 2 diabetes drugs to PDL BioPharma, Depomed said.

The drug maker announced that it had sold its interest in the Type 2 diabetes therapeutic area to PDL for $240.5 million, which it plans to use to acquire rights to products it said would drive long-term growth and build on its expertise in pain and neurology.

The interests include payments accruing from and after Oct. 1 from Santarus, for Glumetza (metformin hydrochloride extended-release tablets) in the United States; from Merck for Janumet XR (sitagliptin and metformin hydrochloride extended-release); from Johnson & Johnson for potential future milestones and sales of Invokana (canagliflozin) and extended-release metformin; from Boehringer Ingelheim for potential future milestones and sales of experimental drugs; and from LG and Valeant for sales of extended-release metformin in Korea and Canada, respectively.

"Through this sale of our Type 2 diabetes milestone and royalty payments, we have generated a significant infusion of cash equal to approximately 55% of our market capitalization without issuing any equity or incurring any debt," Depomed president and CEO Jim Schoeneck said. "We intend to focus our cash balance of over $300 million to fund future product acquisitions capable of driving growth into the next decade."

Schoeneck said he expected such current Depomed products as the restless legs syndrome drug Gralise (gabapentin), the pain drug Lazanda (fentanyl nasal spray) and the actinic keratosis drug Zipsor (diclofenac potassium) to drive sales growth, and the company has retained its royalty and milestone interests in other collaborations, including agreements with Mallinckrodt, Ironwood and Johnson & Johnson.

 

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NASP elects Walgreens’ Mike Ellis as first president

BY Alaric DeArment

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The National Association of Specialty Pharmacy has named Walgreens corporate VP specialty pharmacy and infusion services as its first president, the organization said Tuesday.

Ellis previously worked as SVP specialty trade relations and contracting and pharmaceutical services for CVS Caremark, before joining Walgreens in 2011. He has more than 32 years’ experience in specialty pharmacy and infusion and also has worked at AdvancePCS, Olsten Health Services and Quantum Health Resources. Walgreens joined NASP as a founding member last year, and Ellis was elected at the NASP board of directors’ Oct. 14 meeting; he will serve a one-year term through October 2014.

"This is an exciting time for specialty pharmacy, and I’m excited to work with my colleagues on this distinguished board of directors to advance NASP’s mission and create a stronger, more unified voice for all stakeholders," Ellis said. "At Walgreens, we share eNASP’s dedication to serve the needs of patients living with complex, chronic health conditions and support the pharmacists they work with on a daily basis."

Walgreens uses an integrated, multichannel model for its specialty and infusion business, focusing on creating an optimal patient experience that supports improved health outcomes, NASP said, while also offering pipeline insights, custom reporting and clinical and utilization management programs to help payers manage costs.

"We are honored to work with Mike as our first president, guiding NASP forward as it continues to lead the specialty pharmacy industry," NASP CEO Gary Cohen said. "Walgreens is a strong supporter of our membership and industry as a whole, and we believe Mike will provide both the vision and leadership necessary to steer NASP and the specialty pharmacy industry to the next level."

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