PHARMACY

Grassroots policy effort gaining support from patients allied with pharmacy owners

BY Jim Frederick

ALEXANDRIA, Va. An online grassroots campaign by independent pharmacy operators has enlisted more than 12,000 patients in the six weeks since its launch, the National Community Pharmacists Association said Tuesday.

NCPA member pharmacies are on a drive to recruit at least 50,000 of their customers this year for the grassroots lobbying campaign, called Fight4Rx.org. The aim: to turn pharmacy patients into informed healthcare activists and enlist their support in efforts to influence federal policy on behalf of community pharmacy.

 

“It’s a tremendous achievement to have 12,000 patients already signed up for Fight4Rx,” said NCPA EVP and CEO Bruce Roberts. “This level of patient outreach demonstrates that both community pharmacists and their patients recognize the importance of being heard in the health care policy debate in Washington.”

Patients are signing up for Figh4Rx directly through their local community pharmacies, which average over 100 patient interactions per day. Fight4Rx resources include issue briefs on pharmacy patient issues, Medicare and health care news updates, and a video blog on the campaign’s home page, www.Fight4Rx.org.

The site features regular updates from pharmacy industry experts. Patients receive a monthly e-mail newsletter, which updates them on key pharmacy issues and news, as well as action alerts encouraging patients to contact their elected officials on critical issues affecting their access to local community pharmacies.

“I commend my fellow community pharmacists for helping to make Fight4Rx a success,” said NCPA president Holly Henry, who owns three pharmacies in the Seattle area. “With the health care policy debate already beginning, it is vital that patients continue to speak up on the vital role community pharmacies play in keeping health care costs low and quality of care high.”

One active proponent of the grassroots effort is Bruce Wood, owner of Dicks Pharmacy in Arthur, Illinois.

“When I heard about Fight4Rx, I told my staff to start getting our patients signed up right away,” Wood said. “Patients have been approaching me even outside my pharmacy, thanks in no small part to the word of mouth about this effort, to say they were joining Fight4Rx because they understand how important it is to stand up for their health care needs. Standing on the sidelines is no longer an option.”

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PHARMACY

AstraZeneca, BioDuro to expand partnership

BY Alaric DeArment

BEIJING AstraZeneca and BioDuro announced Monday that they would expand their collaboration to find new drugs to treat respiratory and inflammatory diseases.

BioDuro, a life science outsourcing company with 580 employees in Beijing, said it would provide research services in discovery chemistry and biology, as well as drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics and absorption, distribution, metabolism, excretion and toxicity services to help drug-discovery efforts.

“BioDuro is pleased to build upon this existing collaboration and work closely with the experienced team at AstraZeneca to develop new clinical compounds for respiratory and inflammatory indications,” BioDuro CEO John Oyler said in a statement. “This partnership demonstrates the strength of our innovation, quality and our fully integrated R&D service platform.”

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Study discovers additional use for breast cancer antibody

BY Alaric DeArment

BASEL, Switzerland A study involving almost 600 patients has shown that adding a monoclonal antibody normally used to treat breast cancer to standard chemotherapy prolongs the lives of patients with HER2-positive stomach cancer.

The international phase 3 study, dubbed ToGA, enrolled 594 patients. Patients were randomly placed into two groups, one that received chemotherapy alone and one that received chemotherapy with Roche’s Herceptin (trastuzumab).

“The ToGA study shows for the first time that Herceptin extends the lives of patients in a cancer other than breast cancer,” stated Roche Pharmaceuticals Division CEO William Burns. “Advanced stomach cancer is a devastating disease for which there are currently few treatment options.”

Genentech, which recently agreed to be acquired by Roche, markets Herceptin in the United States. Chugai markets it in Japan, and Roche markets it elsewhere.

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