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CVS Health to offer naloxone without prescription in 23 states by month’s end

BY Michael Johnsen
WOONSOCKET, R.I. – CVS Health announced Monday that it will expand access to the opioid overdose-reversal medication naloxone at the end of March at its CVS Pharmacy locations in eight new states, including: Connecticut, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Ohio, Virginia and Vermont.  
 
Under a physician-approved protocol permitted by the state, CVS Pharmacy will be able to dispense naloxone to patients in these states without the need for an individual prescription.
 
"Naloxone is a safe and effective antidote to opioid overdose and by expanding availability of this medication, we can save lives and give more people a chance to get the help they need for recovery," stated Tom Davis, VP pharmacy professional practices at CVS Pharmacy. "By establishing a physician-approved protocol that allows our pharmacies to dispense naloxone to patients without an individual prescription, we strengthen our commitment to help the communities we serve by preventing drug abuse."
 
Naloxone is already available without a prescription at CVS Pharmacy locations through standing order or collaborative practice agreements in 15 states, including:  Arkansas, California, Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin.  
 
The company has said it will add a total of 20 states to its naloxone program in 2016 and expects to announce additional states throughout the remainder of the year.    
 
"Expanding access to the overdose-reversal drug naloxone is a critical part of our national strategy to stop the prescription drug and heroin overdose epidemic–along with effective prevention, treatment, and enforcement," said Michael Botticelli, director of National Drug Control Policy. "Thanks to efforts on naloxone like those announced today by CVS Health, more Americans will have access to this lifesaving drug."
 
The move to expand access to naloxone builds on CVS Health's commitment to help communities address and prevent drug abuse through education, outreach and safe medication disposal. In 2015, CVS Health launched a community outreach program called Pharmacists Teach, which brings local pharmacists to high school health classes to talk to students about the dangers of drug abuse. More than 15,000 students have already been part of the program.  High schools across the country can learn more about bringing Pharmacists Teach to their school here. 
 
CVS Health has also joined with the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids for the Medication Disposal for Safer Communities Program, which has donated more than 500 drug disposal units to police departments around the country. The program gives members of the community a safe and environmentally friendly way to dispose of unwanted medication and has already collected more than 28 metric tons of prescription drugs. Police departments across the country can apply to receive a drug collection unit from the program here.      
 
"CVS Health has been a leader in the work of preventing prescription drug abuse and ensuring safe disposal of unwanted medication that could otherwise be misused," said Marcia Lee Taylor, president and CEO, Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. "Tackling drug abuse in our communities requires a committed coalition of community partners and we have been proud to partner with CVS Health on the Safer Communities program since 2014."
 
 
 
 
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Strides Shasun acquires Jointflex, Fergon and Vanquish OTC brands

BY Michael Johnsen
BANGALORE – Strides Shasun on Monday announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary Strides Pharma has entered into an agreement with Moberg Pharma of Sweden to acquire Jointflex, Fergon and Vanquish brands for a total consideration of $10 million plus inventory value at closing.
 
The announced acquisition strengthens Strides Shasun’s strategy to build a global OTC franchise, the company stated.
 
The OTC portfolio now includes market leading Chemists Own umbrella brand in Australia and Nuprin in the U.S. Nuprin has the global rights to the first ibuprofen 12-hour extended-release tablets, as well as the associated controlled delivery technology. 
 
The company has also filed ANDA’s that will further enhance its OTC portfolio in the U.S.
 
The transaction is expected to add $6.1 million in revenues when the deal closes in an approximate four weeks, Strides stated. 
 
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Study: Vitamin D deficiency may increase risk of MS in children

BY Michael Johnsen
BOSTON – Children of mothers with vitamin D deficiency during early pregnancy appeared to be at greater risk for multiple sclerosis in adulthood, according to an article published Monday online by JAMA Neurology.
 
While elevated levels of vitamin D have been associated with a decreased risk of MS in adulthood, some previous research also has suggested that vitamin D exposure in utero may be a risk factor for MS in later life.
 
Kassandra Munger of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, and coauthors examined whether serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D) levels in early pregnancy were associated with the risk of MS in children. 
 
The authors identified 193 individuals (163 of them female) with a diagnosis of MS whose mothers were part of the Finnish Maternity Cohort and matched 176 case patients with 326 control participants for comparison. 
 
The majority of maternal blood samples (70%) to measure 25(OH)D levels had been collected during the first trimester and the average maternal vitamin D levels were in the insufficient vitamin D range.
 
The risk of MS as an adult was 90% higher in children of mothers who were vitamin-D deficient (25(OH)D levels less than 12.02 ng/mL) compared with the children of mothers who were not vitamin D deficient, according to the results. 
 
The authors noted that two prior studies examining the association between 25(OH)D levels in pregnancy/early life did not find an association with future MS risk in children. In the current study, the authors acknowldedged a few limitations, including that maternal 25(OH)D levels during pregnancy are not a direct measure of the 25(OH)D levels to which the developing fetus is exposed. 
 
The study concludes that “while our results suggest that vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy increases MS risk in the offspring, our study does not provide any information as to whether there is a dose-response effect with increasing levels of 25(OH)D sufficiency. Similar studies in populations with a wider distribution of 25(OH)D are needed.”
 
 
 
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