PHARMACY

Amgen acquires rights to Neupogen, Neulasta in 100 markets from Roche

BY Alaric DeArment

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — Biotech drug maker Amgen has acquired from Roche the rights to drugs used to boost the immune systems of cancer patients on chemotherapy in 100 markets.

Amgen announced Tuesday that the transfer of rights to Neupogen (filgrastim) and Neulasta (pegfilgrastim) in several countries in Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa would take effect on Jan. 1, 2014. Financial terms were not disclosed, but the drugs generated about $200 million in sales in those areas last year. Roche has since 1989 held the rights to the drugs in those markets under license from Kirin-Amgen, a joint venture between Amgen and Japan-based Kirin Holdings Co.

"This agreement will enable Amgen to reach more patients around the world with two of our innovative medicines," Amgen chairman and CEO Robert Bradway said. "The transaction will allow us to build experience and capacity in countries that will be important in accelerating future growth of Amgen’s pipeline products."

 

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Study finds 1-in-50 at risk of severe allergic reactions

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — Nearly 1-in-50 people in the United States are at risk of severe allergic reactions, according to a new study announced Monday by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

According to the study, severe, life-threatening allergic reactions known as anaphylaxis are common in the United States, occurring in about 1.6% of the population. The rate, the study said, is probably higher, and closer to 5.1%. The study was published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

"One of the most alarming things we found is that, despite the common occurrence of anaphylaxis, most people are not prepared to do the right thing when emergency reactions occur," AAFA SVP Mike Tringale said. "We need to redouble our efforts to make sure that people are informed and have access to the right medication."

Anaphylaxis can occur suddenly and typically involves two or more organs, such as the skin, airways, lungs, stomach, heart or blood vessels, and is most commonly triggered by allergies to foods, medications, latex and insect or spider bites and stings. Symptoms can include difficulty breathing, rashes, hives, swelling, vomiting, loss of blood pressure and loss of consciousness. In the public survey portion of the study, 73% of respondents reported respiratory symptoms with anaphylaxis, followed by 61% reporting skin reactions, 24% reporting cardiovascular reactions, 15% reporting neurological reactions and 7% reporting gastrointestinal reactions.

Though anaphylaxis can occur anywhere, with most occurring at home, the study indicated that most won’t have emergency medication when needed, even in their homes.

"Everyone plays an important role in recognizing and responding to anaphylaxis," AAFA chairwoman Lynn Hanessian said. "Knowing the signs and symptoms and when and how to take action, such as helping someone get emergency treatment with an epinephrine auto-injector and calling 911, is critical to helping someone having an anaphylactic reaction."

 

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Walgreens recognizes its 27,000 pharmacists as part of American Pharmacists Month

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens on Monday is recognizing its more than 27,000 community pharmacists for the important role they play in helping people get, stay and live well, as part of American Pharmacists Month in October. Walgreens pharmacists across more than 8,100 Walgreens and Duane Reade drug stores are helping to transform the role of community pharmacy by providing a wide range of preventive healthcare services — including immunizations, health testing, chronic care management, patient counseling and more — while helping to bridge notable gaps in care today. 

“Pharmacy is at the core of our transformation from a retail drugstore to a health and daily living destination, and our pharmacists are among the most trusted healthcare professionals in thousands of communities nationwide,” stated Kermit Crawford, Walgreens president of pharmacy, health and wellness. "As we continue to transform community pharmacy, this month we recognize the critical role our pharmacists are playing to help improve medication adherence, increase immunization rates and to educate patients on the many changes that are taking place across the healthcare landscape."

During the 2012-2013 flu season, which was deemed the most severe in the United States in more than a decade, Walgreens pharmacists administered more than 7 million flu shots, and more than 1.5 million other immunizations during the company’s last fiscal year.

Walgreens pharmacists are also playing an expanded role as part of patient care teams by working closely to coordinate care with hospitals, health systems and physician groups on medication adherence and transition of such care programs as WellTransitions, and serving on clinical teams for several accountable care organizations. With a greater need for access to healthcare services, the company has pharmacists with specialized training to help manage a growing number of such chronic conditions as diabetes, HIV/AIDS, rheumatoid arthritis and cancer. 

October is also a time to thank and recognize pharmacy technicians and pharmacy interns for the value they bring to communities and to the profession on National Pharmacy Technician Day, Oct. 22, the drug store retailer noted. 

 

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