PHARMACY

Baxter International completes H1N1 vaccine testing, may distribute soon

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. Baxter International on Friday announced that it may have a vaccine for the novel H1N1 pandemic ready for commercial distribution as early as next month.

The company stated that it has completed testing and evaluation of the A(H1N1) influenza virus and is now in full-scale production of a commercial A(H1N1) vaccine using its Vero cell culture technology.

With its Vero cell technology, Baxter has received European Medicines Agency approval for a mock-up pandemic vaccine called Celvapan, the brand name for the company’s pandemic vaccine. The qualification, development and manufacturing processes used in gaining mock-up licensure for Celvapan apply as the company uses this new influenza A(H1N1) virus strain to produce a pandemic vaccine. The Celvapan EMEA licensure supports fast track approval of a pandemic vaccine containing the A(H1N1) virus strain. Baxter will submit the A(H1N1) vaccine for approval upon completion of initial manufacturing runs.

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Maryland offers free prescription card to residents

BY Michael Johnsen

ANNAPOLIS, Md. Maryland earlier this week launched a new statewide discount drug card program, called the Maryland Rx Card. The program, free to all Maryland residents, will provide savings of up to 75% on prescription drugs, though savings should average roughly 30%.

The program has no restrictions to membership, including no income requirements and no age limitations, and will be accepted at more than 50,000 pharmacy locations across the country.

The discount cards will be made available online at www.marylandrxcard.com, or at any Giant or Safeway pharmacy, both supermarket retailers have been named the preferred pharmacies for the program.

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Novo Nordisk discusses diabetes costs, patient motivation at conference

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON The cost of diabetes to the country and the lag in patient motivation to take action to offset it were the major themes at a conference sponsored recently by a drug maker focused on the disease.

Danish drug maker Novo Nordisk convened the conference in Washington, bringing in such speakers as American Diabetes Association CEO Larry Hausner.

Without intervention at the national and patient level, the company said, the country runs the risk of having 50 million people living with the disease by 2025.

“The growing prevalence of diabetes is having a profound effect on the health of current and future generations, as well as our national economy,” Hausner said. “We must awaken the public’s consciousness of diabetes and ensure our leaders in Congress recognize healthcare reform as their opportunity to transform the lives of all people affected by this devastating disease.”

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