PHARMACY

FDA approves Schering-Plough’s skin cancer treatment

BY Alaric DeArment

GAITHERSBURG, Md. A Food and Drug Administration advisory committee has recommended approval of a biotech drug to treat skin cancer.

The FDA’s Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee voted six-to-four Monday to recommend approval for Schering-Plough Corp.’s Pegintron (pegylated interferon alfa-2b) as an adjuvant treatment for stage 3 malignant melanoma. The drug, a long-acting form of the protein interferon alfa-2b is administered weekly by self-injection and already approved as treatment for hepatitis C.

“Treating malignant melanoma remains a challenge given the limited treatment options that are currently available,” University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine professor and Division of Medical Oncology chief John Kirkwood said in a statement. “Today’s positive recommendation of pegylated interferon alfa-2b by the committee represents an important step toward a potential new option in the treatment of stage 3 malignant melanoma, especially as the incidence of the disease continues to increase.”

FDA advisory committees’ recommendations do not mandate approval of a drug, but the agency weighs them when considering whether to grant final approval.

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RediClinic set to offer H1N1 vaccine, FluMist

BY Antoinette Alexander

HOUSTON RediClinic is reinforcing its role as a local resource for prevention and treatment of seasonal illnesses by providing FluMist nasal flu vaccine and gearing up to offer the H1N1 vaccine when it becomes available.

As previously reported by Drug Store News, the retail-based clinic operator is offering FluMist in its Houston and Austin locations.

In addition, the clinics expect to offer the H1N1 vaccine when it is projected to become available in mid-October. For those patients experiencing flu-like symptoms, RediClinic offers diagnostic tests and treatment options to help them get healthy as quickly as possible.

“All of our clinicians are prepared to share information and advice with patients interested in learning how to prevent these illnesses, and our clinics are open seven days a week and after school and work on weekdays to ensure that patients have access to care when they need it most,” stated Nancy Ross, RediClinic nurse practitioner.

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NACDS, NCPA file lawsuit against Minnesota over Medicaid cuts

BY Allison Cerra

ALEXANDRIA, Va. Just a few days after announcing lawsuits against three states, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the National Community Pharmacists Association have declared that the state of Minnesota unlawfully cut patient access to Medicaid.

Additional state-based associations, including the Minnesota Pharmacists Association, the Minnesota Retailers Association and other businesses, filed as co-plaintiffs in the lawsuit. The co-plaintiffs claim the state violating the Social Security Act, which required states to adjust reimbursement rates as a result of reductions to the average wholesale price of drugs.

“MPhA is deeply disappointed in the decision of the Department of Human Services to not exercise its authority and responsibility to assist pharmacies in what will be a devastating blow to their ability to provide services to their patients,” said Julie K. Johnson, Pharm.D., EVP and CEO, Minnesota Pharmacists Association.

As previously reported by Drug Store News Wednesday, California, New York and Washington were also accused of denying patient access and quality care to Medicaid patients.

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