PHARMACY

FDA announces safety review of two immunosuppressive drugs

BY Drew Buono

WASHINGTON The Food and Drug Administration issued an early communication today stating that an ongoing safety review is taking place about the immunosuppressive medications CellCept by Roche and Myfortic by Novartis.

The drugs have been linked in safety data provided by Roche to progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, a sometimes fatal disorder that affects the central nervous system.

Roche has recommended including this information in the CellCept label. The active ingredient in CellCept, mycophenolate mofetil, is metabolized by the body to MPA (mycophenolic acid), the active drug ingredient in Myfortic.

The FDA anticipates taking two months to complete its review of the safety data and the proposed revised labeling for CellCept and Myfortic that includes information about PML.

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Accuracy at institutional pharmacies is focus of new Cardinal/TCGRx pact

BY Jim Frederick

DUBLIN, Ohio Drug distribution and health services giant Cardinal Health has forged a three-year pact with TCGRx, a firm specializing in automation and bar-code-driven inventory tracking, to boost efficiencies and dispensing accuracy among its long-term-care pharmacy customers.

TCGRx offers automated pharmaceutical storage and dispensing systems, including automated oral solid packaging as well as shelving and drawer systems that store, count and package pharmaceuticals into patient-specific doses and pre-packaged formats. The systems can reduce storage space by up to 50 percent, according to Cardinal. They can also make it easier for operators of long-term-care pharmacies to manage inventory, applying sophisticated tracking and reporting that allow for streamlined ordering when inventory levels reach pre-defined levels.

“The systems will help improve patient safety through more accurate dispensing and patient-specific packaging that is easier to read and administer,” said Law Burks, vice president of marketing management for Cardinal’s healthcare supply chain services-pharmaceuticals division. The result, he said, would be improved patient compliance with drug therapy.

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Maryland grants $62 million for expansion of university Pharmacy Hall

BY Diana Alickaj

BALTIMORE, Md. Governor Martin O’Malley along with the state legislature of Maryland, has granted $62 million for the addition to Pharmacy Hall in the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, according to published reports.

The students and faculty of University of Maryland School of Pharmacy have been rallying for government support of the decade-long plan since Feb. 14, demanding that there would be an accommodation to the increased enrollment of an extra 120 students. Since there has been a shortage of pharmacists in America, the university has been calling for more room to accommodate its students, and to allow more students interested in pharmacy to enroll.

David J. Ramsay, DM, DPhil, president of the University of Maryland said of the funding, “In securing more than $62 million for the construction of the Pharmacy Hall addition, Gov. Martin O’Malley and the Maryland General Assembly have recognized the need to educate more pharmacists, carry out more cutting-edge research and deepen our commitment to serve the community. We are thankful for their leadership and their vision in helping us move forward with this desperately needed expansion.”

According to published reports, the building will be 92,635-square-feet, and seven stories high. It will include lecture halls with wiring for computers and distance-learning technology. The university also will build a patient interaction laboratory, which would be dedicated to research and the testing of new drugs.

The addition, slated to open for students in the fall of 2010, also will include such environmentally friendly features as energy-efficient lights and heat recovery air landing systems.

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