PHARMACY

CVS/pharmacy, MinuteClinic expands H1N1 services

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. CVS/pharmacy and its MinuteClinic locations are now offering H1N1 vaccine in 20 states and Washington, D.C., the company announced on Wednesday.

Currently, the vaccine is being offered at select CVS/pharmacy locations in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, Texas and the District of Columbia and at MinuteClinic locations in Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. CVS/pharmacy and MinuteClinic are working with other states and expect the availability of H1N1 vaccine will expand to other areas as supply becomes available.

While in some locations priority restrictions for receiving H1N1 vaccines continue, many states have lifted restrictions allowing all patients to be eligible to receive the shot while supplies last.

In addition, season flu vaccine has been restocked and is available at MinuteClinic locations nationwide.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 200,000 hospitalizations and 36,000 deaths result each year from seasonal flu alone.

In addition, in 2009, 47 million Americans — or about 1-in-6 — already have had H1N1 flu. While H1N1 flu is currently active nationwide, seasonal flu typically does not reach its peak in the United States until January or February and can occur as late as May.

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Ranbaxy will not merge with Nippon Chemiphar

BY Alaric DeArment

GURGAON, India Indian generic drug maker Ranbaxy Labs has dissolved its joint venture with Japan’s Nippon Chemiphar. The dissolution gives Nippon Chemiphar full ownership of the venture, Nihon Pharmaceutical Industry Co.

The two companies had decided that it would serve their respective interests to develop their generic businesses independently, though Ranbaxy will continue to manufacture generic drugs for Nippon Chemiphar at its plants in India.

Japan is the world’s second largest pharmaceutical market and has been gradually opening up to generic drugs. In October, Sandoz launched Japan’s first biosimilar, a follow-on of Pfizer’s human growth hormone Genotropin (somatropin) already marketed in the United States, the European Union and Australia under the name Omnitrope.

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FDA approves generic treatment of Alzheimer’s disease

BY Alaric DeArment

ROCKVILLE, Md. The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first generic version of a drug used to treat dementia related to Alzheimer’s disease, the agency announced Tuesday.

The FDA approved Philadelphia-based Mutual Pharmaceutical’s donepezil hydrochloride orally disintegrating tablets in the 5-mg and 10-mg strengths, a generic version of Eisai’s Aricept. While generic versions of Aricept already are available, the newly approved generic is a version that dissolves on the tongue, designed for patients who have difficulty swallowing.

“Generics offer greater access to health care for all Americans,” FDA Office of Generic Drugs director Gary Buehler said. “Healthcare professionals and consumers can be assured that FDA-approved generic drugs have met the same rigorous standards as the brand-name drug and are the same as the branded in dosage form, safety, strength, route of administration, quality, performance characteristics and intended use.”

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