PHARMACY

CDC makes distribution deals for swine flu vaccine

BY Allison Cerra

SAN FRANCISCO McKesson Corp.’s current partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been expanded to include preparations for H1N1 flu vaccine distribution, the company said Monday.

The CDC currently has a contract with McKesson for distribution of its public-sector purchased adult and pediatric vaccines, including those distributed through the Vaccines for Children program. Through this program, McKesson distributes 80 million doses to more than 40,000 providers each year. Under the authority of Unusual and Compelling Urgency (Federal Acquisition Regulation 6.302-2), the CDC is expanding its existing contract with McKesson to include centralized distribution of the H1N1 flu vaccine currently under development.

The H1N1 vaccine distribution effort will include the centralized distribution of the H1N1 flu vaccine to as many as 90,000 sites across the country, making it the largest public health initiative in the CDC’s history. The Department of Health and Human Services and the CDC are working with state and local public health officials and vaccine manufacturers to develop the timeline and plan for distribution and administration of the H1N1 flu vaccine to the public. Preparations are underway for McKesson to manage its part of the H1N1 flu vaccine initiative. McKesson’s role will be to distribute the vaccine to sites designated by state health departments across the country. Each state will designate the providers who will receive and administer the vaccine.

As the CDC’s centralized vaccine distributor, McKesson has established a track record of improving the consistency and reliability of the CDC’s vaccine supply while reducing costs. McKesson also has access to a network of thousands of CDC providers through technology systems that link those providers to an existing distribution system and provide data to the CDC on a daily basis.

“As the world’s largest healthcare services company, McKesson is pleased to expand our partnership with the CDC, and we are committed to our role in this unprecedented H1N1 preparedness effort,” said Paul Julian, EVP and group president of McKesson. “We look forward to continuing to support the CDC in meeting its public health objectives.”

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Asteres to debut new automated pharmacy kiosk at NACDS Pharmacy & Technology Conference

BY Alaric DeArment

SAN DIEGO A company that makes automated pharmacy kiosks plans to unveil its latest products at an upcoming conference.

Asteres, which makes the ScriptCenter kiosk, announced this week that it would debut ScriptCenter 24/7 Automated Pharmacy Services at the 2009 National Association of Chain Drug Stores Pharmacy & Technology Conference in Boston, which begins Saturday.

“To date, ScriptCenter has enabled retailers to reduce pharmacy hours and increase customer services,” Asteres CEO Mark de Bruin said in a statement. “The addition of 24/7 Automated Pharmacy Services will expand customer engagement opportunities and drive incremental store sales leveraging kiosk, online and cell technologies.”

The services include the Express Prescription Pickup, Prescription Drop Off Anytime, one-touch pickup for families, ScriptCenter.com and others.

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Sciele Pharma announces availability of head lice treatment

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK A new drug for treating head lice has become available from a subsidiary of a Japanese drug company.

Sciele Pharma, part of Shionogi, announced this week the availability of Ulesfia (benzyl alcohol lotion 5%). The medication kills head lice by asphyxiation without potential neurotoxic side effects, the company said.

Head lice infestation affects 6 to 12 million children between the ages of 3 and 12 every year. To breathe, head lice use breathing holes that close upon contact with most liquids, which allows them to go into suspended animation and survive for hours without respiration, but Ulesfia prevents them from closing their breathing holes, causing the insects to asphyxiate.

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