PHARMACY

Aurora Health Care receives grant to fund MRSA research

BY Alaric DeArment

MILWAUKEE A nonprofit healthcare system in Wisconsin has received a grant to fund research on whether targeted or universal screening of hospital patients is cost-effective in the prevention of antibiotic-resistant staphylococcus infections.

Aurora Health Care announced that it received $24,000 from the Cardinal Health Foundation to fund the study on methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, also known as MRSAs.

The study will take place between July 1 and June 30, 2010, at the Aurora Sheboygan Memorial Medical Center, Aurora BayCare Medical Center and ACL Lab, and will involve Aurora patient safety officer and medical director of care management Kathy Leonhardt and Marquette University economist Olga Yakusheva as co-principal investigators.

“There has been international debate on how best to identify patients with MRSA when they are admitted to the hospital,” Leonhardt said. “It’s vital because, of course, we want to keep the infection from spreading. There are two common approaches: targeted screening or universal screening.”

Leonhardt said that in targeted screening, people with certain criteria are tested, while universal screening tests everyone. She said that while clinical studies on the effectiveness of each method have been conducted, researchers have not reached a consensus.

The grant is part of a $1 million funding program from Cardinal Health Foundation for new programs to improve patient safety at 35 hospitals, community health clinics and health systems across the country.

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FTC clears J&J acquisition of Cougar Biotechnology

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. The Federal Trade Commission has given clearance to the acquisition of a biotechnology company by drug maker Johnson & Johnson.

J&J announced that the FTC had granted early termination of the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act with respect to J&J’s acquisition of Los Angeles-based Cougar Biotechnology.

J&J made a tender offer last month to acquire Cougar for $1 billion, or $43 per share, and Cougar’s board recommended that stockholders accept the offer. If J&J manages to acquire a majority of tendered shares, and fulfills other customary conditions, Cougar will become a subsidiary, working with J&J’s biotech division. The tender offer expires at midnight July 2.

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NCPA presents drug disposal advocacy to Congress

BY Alaric DeArment

ALEXANDRIA, Va. An organization representing the country’s independent pharmacies took its advocacy of drug disposal programs to Congress Thursday.

Speaking on behalf of the National Community Pharmacy Association, pharmacist Cheri Garvin testified before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security’s “Safe and Responsible Drug Disposal” hearing.

Garvin, CEO of Leesburg Pharmacy in Leesburg, Va., developed a drug disposal program for her pharmacy that the NCPA said serves as a business model that its 23,000 members can use. The organization said safe drug disposal helps prevent diversion and the contamination of drinking water that results from patients flushing unused medications down toilets.

“Patients need viable, convenient solutions when seeking to dispose of their unused medications,” Garvin said in her testimony. “Programs that allow for drop-off at multiple public locations, as well as programs that allow for patients to utilize prepaid mailers to dispose of medications, should be encouraged.”

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