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ElectroCore developing headache-relief device, targeting 2015 U.S approval

BY Michael Johnsen

 

BASKING RIDGE, N.J. — Preliminary results of an open-label trial carried Thursday in the journal of Headache and Pain reported that a single treatment with ElectroCore’s hand held non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation device GammaCore, completely resolved 44.8% of migraines within 30 minutes, with an additional 11.4% experiencing moderate benefits (incomplete resolution of their headaches) by two hours. 
 
This result follows two presentations at the International headache meeting in Copenhagen in September showing that patients using GammaCore achieved a 43.4% reduction in the number of weekly cluster headache attacks compared with 12.5% in patients treated with the best available standard of care. It also found that patients experienced a greater reduction in number of attacks the longer they stayed on treatment.
 
“As the results of our studies continue to demonstrate positive results, we are increasingly optimistic that the extensive investment we have made in both pre-clinical trials and clinical trials was a wise use of our capital and human resources," stated JP Errico, ElectroCore CEO. "We believe that this therapy is unique in both its safety and efficacy profiles. With few adverse events reported, non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation appears to be the first therapeutic option that offers both acute and prophylactic benefits for patients who suffer frequent and severe headaches. As such, we believe that GammaCore will ultimately move to a first line treatment for these patients, and will continue to conduct the clinical research necessary to support that conclusion.” 
 
The open-label migraine study was carried out at the Headache Center in the Neurological Institute in Milan, Italy. The study involved thirty patients, ages 18 years to 65 years, who had migraine without aura and suffered from five to nine attacks per month. Patients treated from three to six migraine episodes with gammaCore. Ninety-six migraine attacks were treated by a single dose. Forty three attacks were resolved completely within 30 minutes (44.8%); for 42 (43.7%) attacks the application did not show any benefit in the first two hours so patients recurred to rescue medication; in 11 (11.4%) attacks the result was uncertain: no resolution of attack, only a moderate relief of pain. No adverse events were recorded.
 
In Europe, ElectroCore’s nVNS technology has a CE mark for primary headache, bronchoconstriction, epilepsy, gastric motility disorders, and depression and anxiety. It also has regulatory approval for the acute and/or prophylactic treatment of cluster headache, migraine and medication overuse headache in South Africa, India, New Zealand, Australia, Colombia, Brazil and Malaysia, and in Canada for cluster headache. U.S. approval is expected in 2015. 
 
 

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Walgreens announces retirement of two longtime executives

BY Michael Johnsen

John Spina (left) and Don Huonker

DEERFIELD, Ill. — John Spina, Walgreens corporate VP expense optimization, and Don Huonker, Walgreens chief operational risk officer, will retire from the company effective Oct. 31. "Both John and Don can be proud of the many contributions they have made over the years to help Walgreens achieve our goals, and we are grateful for their leadership. We thank them for their dedicated service and wish them the very best as they take the next steps in their lives," Walgreens released in a statement. 
 
Spina joined Walgreens in 1979 as a store clerk in Daly City, Calif., and moved into store management roles before becoming a district manager in Knoxville, Tenn., in 1996. In 2003, he joined the corporate offices as director of drug store administration and was promoted to store operations VP two years later. He was named VP and treasurer in 2007, VP retail integration and new format development in 2009, and VP Well Experience deployment in 2012 before taking his current position in July.  During the last five years, Spina has led several key initiatives, including the Duane Reade acquisition and integration, and was responsible for the deployment strategy and processes of the Well Experience initiative.  
 
Huonker began his Walgreens career in 1995 as a pharmacist and management trainee in St. Louis and worked in store leadership until joining the corporate office in 2001. He was named a VP store operations in 2003, overseeing four markets including Puerto Rico. In 2007, he was promoted to SVP pharmacy services and later was promoted to SVP healthcare innovation. In that role, Huonker was responsible for all pharmacy technology and developing new health information technology, and also served as board co-chair of Surescripts.
 
This was followed by SVP positions in process improvement, strategic sourcing and global projects. In April of this year, Huonker brought his broad operational leadership and global experience to his current role as chief operational risk officer to integrate the asset protection solutions team within community management.  
 
 

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NCPA names new president, adopts new resolutions

BY Antoinette Alexander

AUSTIN, Texas — The National Community Pharmacists Association, which wrapped up its 116th Annual Convention and Trade Exposition on Wednesday, has announced the appointment of John Sherrer as president of NCPA.

Sherrer co-owns Kenmar Pharmacy and Poole's Pharmacy in Marietta, Ga., and is a partner in several other Georgia pharmacies. Sherrer also owns First Aid of America, an industrial first aid and safety supply company.

"NCPA is fortunate to have a fine president in John Sherrer," stated NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey. "His commitment to and advocacy for independent community pharmacies and their ability to help patients is second to none. He understands the critical role local pharmacists play in America's health care system and both the opportunities and challenges facing these trusted health care professionals."

In addition, the following independent community pharmacy owners were confirmed for the following positions:

Board of Directors
•    President-Elect—Bradley Arthur, Buffalo, N.Y.
•    Chairman—DeAnn Mullins, Lynn Haven, Fla.
•    David Smith, Indiana, Penn.
•    Bill Osborn, Miami, Okla.
•    Brian Caswell, Baxter Springs, Kan.
•    Michele Belcher, Grants Pass, Ore.
•    Hugh Chancy, Hahira, Ga.
•    Immediate Past President—Mark Riley, Little Rock, Ark.

Officers
•    First Vice President—Jeff Carson, San Antonio, Texas
•    Second Vice President—Lea Wolsoncroft, Birmingham, Ala.
•    Third Vice President—Jeff Harrell, Ilwaco, Wash.
•    Fourth Vice President—Kristen Riddle, Conway, Ark.
•    Fifth Vice President—Christian Tadrus, Columbia, Mo.

NCPA also announced that pharmacists approved the following resolutions:

•    To address the problem of exclusionary arrangements between insurance middlemen and select pharmacies by continuing to support legislative and regulatory policies that would allow any willing pharmacy to participate in a Medicare drug plan, including as a "preferred" pharmacy, if the pharmacy accepts the plan's preferred cost-sharing terms and conditions.

•    To oppose any decisions by third-party payers to unilaterally deny, restrict, or limit coverage for pharmacist-prepared, customized compounded medications that are prepared pursuant to the state-regulated practice of compounding.

•    To support efforts on the state and federal levels to improve consumer access to naloxone for opioid drug overdoses and advocate for the expanded role of the pharmacist in the wider distribution of naloxone under protocols approved by state pharmacy and medical boards, as part of a comprehensive campaign to address the prescription drug abuse crisis.

•    To advocate for greater authority for pharmacists to adjust medication quantities or refill schedules (at the patient's direction), to facilitate medication synchronization programs such as Simplify My Meds, to improve patient adherence to their prescribed medication regimen for better health outcomes and lower costs.

•    To work in conjunction with the NCPA Foundation to further support community pharmacists' ability to prepare for and respond to natural disasters, by centralizing resources available; facilitating access to key decision-makers before disaster strikes; and providing them with the skills and knowledge needed to volunteer as first responders for disaster recovery and response initiatives.

Community pharmacists approved the new resolutions and elected NCPA officers during the House of Delegates session held in conjunction with NCPA's 116th Annual Convention and Trade Exposition.

"From patient choice of pharmacy to medication adherence to combating prescription drug abuse, these resolutions address some of the most pressing issues in community pharmacy today," Hoey added. "We are grateful for the contributions and input of NCPA members leading up to and at today's House of Delegates meeting. Member participation is vital for NCPA to continue as an active and effective representative for the community pharmacists it serves."
 

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