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Giant Eagle overhauls IT infrastructure with IBM Cloud solution

BY Michael Johnsen

ARMONK, N.Y. – IBM on Friday announced that Giant Eagle, one of the nation's largest privately held multi-format food, fuel and pharmacy retailers with locations across Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland and Indiana, is in the initial stages of overhauling its IT infrastructure with a hybrid cloud solution from IBM Cloud.
 
The new solution, based on IBM Cloud’s Infrastructure as a Service, SoftLayer, is designed to provide Giant Eagle flexible, consumption-based pricing, as well as faster procurement and provisioning of applications, and integrated system management for greater visibility into data from everything from the supply chain to the check-out line.
 
“Our goals to reposition our technology infrastructure were to achieve the scalability, security, reliability, resiliency and efficiency that the advancements in the technology are making possible without making significant capital investments,” stated Jeremy Gill, senior director of technology infrastructure at Giant Eagle. “IBM’s full range of offerings from public cloud, private cloud and bare metal and robust security capabilities were their competitive differentiators.”
 
Giant Eagle is currently in phase one of its rollout, which includes the deployment of the development/test and disaster recovery environments. Phase two will include migrating its production IT operations to IBM.
 
“Companies that succeed for as long as Giant Eagle have done so because they understand the value of adopting innovation,” said Jim Comfort, general manager, IBM Cloud. “For Giant Eagle, the move to an IBM hybrid cloud is just the latest example of its foresight and it will serve as the next strategic move in the company’s digital transformation.”
 
 
 
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GPhA speaks out on generics labeling, access

BY David Salazar

WASHINGTON  — This week, the Generic Pharmaceutical Association released statements related to the current state of generics, specifically proposed changes to rules regulating labels on generic drugs from the Food and Drug Administration, as well as steps it believe lawmakers should take to ensure affordable medication access for Americans. 
 
When it comes to accessibility, the organization recommended that lawmakers should encourage the FDA to review the approximately 3,800 generic drug applications awaiting action in a timely manner. GPhA also recommended wider use of generics among low-income Medicare beneficiaries, which it estimates could save $17.7 billion over the course of 10 years.
 
The organization also recommended passing the FAST Generics Act, which it says will keep drug companies from using Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies to keep generics from hitting the market, and called for a repeal of a Medicaid rebate increase for generic drugs included in this year’s budget agreement. 
 
The organization’s president and CEO, Chip Davis, discussed regulations concerning labeling of generics, as the organization says currently, branded and generic drugs have the same label, but a proposed change to generic labeling requirements would require manufacturers to update labels without first getting FDA approval. As a result, GPhA has proposed the Expedited Agency Review (EAR), which relies on the FDA to review new safety information and take action on label changes. 
 
“The FDA is the only entity with all of the data needed to recommend a safety information change,” David said. “Instead, the EAR suggests time parameters for the FDA to take action and encourages the adoption of e-labeling for real time information sharing rather than continuing the reliance on paper label changes that take months or years to adopt. The EAR also takes important steps to make sure that multiple different labels do not exist for products with the same active ingredients, safety and efficacy.”
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New HDMA report snapshots state of specialty pharmacy distribution

BY David Salazar

ARLINGTON, Va. — The seventh edition of HDMA’s report on specialty pharmacy distribution, compiled by its Center for Healthcare Supply Chain Research. The 2015 edition of “Specialty Pharmaceutical Distribution: Facts, Figures and Trends is sponsored by CuraScript Specialty Distribution, Genentech and Pharmacy first, and contains insights on the state of specialty, which IMS Health valued at $124 billion in the United States in 2014.

“The Center is pleased to add the latest edition of this publication to its growing body of research on this unique pharmaceutical segment,” said Karen J. Ribler, Executive Vice President and COO of the Center for Healthcare Supply Chain Research. “As noted in this new edition, specialty distributors continued to provide extraordinary service levels to their manufacturer and dispenser trading partners, creating overall supply chain efficiencies.”

According to the report, from 2009 to 2014, branded and generic specialty sales in the United States grew at an annual compound growth rate of 12%. And the dominant force in the specialty category continues to be oncology medication, which made up 46,.3% of sales volume for distributors in 2014. Sales to physician-owned and –operated clinics went up 70% in 2014, with sales to hospitals and hospital-owned clinics dropping to 17% and 4%, respectively.

In terms of supply chain, the typical HDMA member distributor picked an average of 12,000 lines in a business day at a fill rate of 99.4%. In an average of 17 hours, the distributors ship to 27,000 unique points, with about 1.1% of selling unites being returned. Respondents who are distributors noted contracts with more than 150 manufacturers. 

The full report can be purchased through the website for the Center for Healthcare Supply Chain Research. 

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