PHARMACY

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BY Drew Buono

HOUSTON The Professional Compounding Centers of America has named John Herr its recipient of the Dr. M. George Webber Compounding Pharmacist of the Year, an award that is presented annually to an independent pharmacist who has demonstrated service excellence to patients, healthcare providers and pharmacy colleagues.

L. David Sparks, PCCA’s president/chief executive officer, presented the award to Herr during the company’s International Seminar held in Houston in January 2008. “This year, we recognize a pharmacist who has become one of our profession’s most respected compounders,” Sparks declared. “His colleagues appreciate his generosity and willingness to share and network with them. His pharmacy staff respects his dedication to compounding, compassion for patients and concern for their own well being as his employees. His patients and prescribers appreciate his ability to solve specific medication needs in a high-quality manner.”

Herr has been a registered pharmacist for more than 20 years, and has been an owner of Town & Country Pharmacy since 1999. He is the recipient of several recognition awards for his outstanding service in his practice of the art and science of pharmacy compounding, including the New Jersey Hospice and Palliative Care Organization’s 1998 Hospice Team Award for outstanding leadership as a Hospice Pharmacist.

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Jury hits AstraZeneca with $215 million fine in price-inflation case

BY Drew Buono

MONTGOMERY, Ala. An Alabama state court jury found AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals at fault in inflating drug prices charged to the state’s Medicaid program, according to published reports. As a result, the company has to pay $215 million, $40 million in compensatory damages and $175 million in punitive damages.

Alabama claimed in its complaint, filed in 2005, that the companies overstated the average wholesale price of drugs, which is used to calculate Medicaid reimbursement rates to pharmacies.

AstraZeneca said the judge made numerous errors in the trial, which started Feb. 11. Those errors included barring evidence of how pharmacies manage Medicaid drug costs, according to the company.

AstraZeneca lawyer Thomas Christian told the jury in opening statements that state Medicaid officials had a complete understanding of how drug pricing worked. Once a drug was shipped to the wholesaler and then pharmacies, the company had no control over pricing, Christian said. The company plans on appealing the decision.

AstraZeneca is the first of more than 70 drugmakers sued by Alabama to go to trial. GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis Pharmaceuticals are scheduled for trial in April. Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America and Merck’s Dey unit settled pricing claims with Alabama last month for a combined $6.75 million while admitting no liability.

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Prasugrel given priority review by FDA

BY Diana Alickaj

WASHINGTON A new drug, prasugrel, manufactured by Eli Lilly and Daiichi Sankyo, has been granted a priority review by the Food and Drug Administration.

The drug is intended for the prevention of blood clots, and if approved, will be competing against Plavix, the blockbuster drug sold by Bristol-Myers Squibb Co and Sanofi-Aventis. A study conducted in November has already shown that prasugrel was 19 percent more effect than Plavix, but resulted in a higher amount of serious bleeding.

A priority view, according to published reports, means that the FDA will decide within six months whether or not to approve the drug. An approval for a drug usually takes about 10 to 12 months.

The application for prasugrel was filed on December 26, and since the news of its priority view its shares rose up nearly 3 percent. If approved, Lilly plans its drug to be brand named Effient.

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