PHARMACY

Kentucky pharmacists call on Sen. McConnell to fast-track Medicaid bill before holiday

BY Adam Kraemer

FRANKFORT, Ky. Kentucky community pharmacy owners held a press conference today at Capital Pharmacy and Medical Equipment urging Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to help ensure S.1951, the Fair Medicaid Drug Payment Act of 2007, is brought to the Senate floor for a vote before it adjourns this year.

The bill is intended to fix the Medicaid generic prescription drug pharmacy reimbursement cuts called for by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services that are scheduled to take effect early next year. Pharmacy advocates claim that the CMS cuts threaten the economic viability of community pharmacy, as well as patient access to pharmacy services.

“Community pharmacy owners like myself are being put in a terrible bind because of the coming cuts to Medicaid reimbursement,” said Mac Bray, owner of Capital Pharmacy and Medical Equipment. “My options will be to either turn my back on my Medicaid patients by limiting or dropping my services, or suffer huge financial losses by continuing to participate in the Medicaid program. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell can spare myself and other pharmacists from making that Hobson’s Choice by pushing for the Senate to pass S. 1951 before they go home for the Holidays.”

“Who can stay in business at 36 percent below cost?” said Brad Hall, executive director of the Kentucky Pharmacists Association. “The federal government’s AMP [average manufacturers price] formula does not properly measure retail acquisition costs for community pharmacies like Capital Pharmacy and Medical Equipment here in Frankfort. The real world consequences of this disastrous federal policy will be felt most profoundly by patients, who will see their access to prescription drugs and the valued expertise of their trusted local pharmacists undermined. When that happens these patients will be forced to more expensive options such as visiting emergency rooms. This can all be avoided if Congress acts before the rule is fully implemented on Jan. 30, 2008.”

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Wyeth and GSK may see competition in pediatric vaccines

BY Allison Cerra

LONDON There may be a clash of the titans underway.

Pharma giants Wyeth and GlaxoSmithKline are set to go head to head with their competing childhood vaccines, but Wyeth dismissed any worries about the newcomer to the vaccine playground.

Wyeth’s Prevnar will remain a key sales driver for the company but would not be hindered by Glaxo’s Synflorix, said Emilio Emini, the U.S. group’s head of vaccine research and development, on Tuesday.

Prevnar, a vaccine for infants and children to prevent certain invasive pneumococcal diseases, is active against seven types of streptococcus pneumonia, which together account for some 80 percent of illnesses, Reuters reported Tuesday.

Glaxo’s Synflorix, which a company spokeswoman said remained on track for submission to European regulators by the end of 2007, targets 10 types, and even prevents inflammation of the middle ear.

But Emini said Synflorix was incomparable to the new version of Prevnar.

“Essentially, it is a direct equivalent of the original Prevnar,” he said in an interview with Reuters on the sidelines of the FT Global Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Conference. “If you look at the residual 20 percent of disease (not addressed by Prevnar) and ask how much is covered by the GSK 10-valent vaccine, it’s actually a small percentage. How much is covered by Prevnar-13? It’s over 60 percent,” Emini said.

Wyeth intends to submit a new version of Prevnar, active against 13 strains, to both European and U.S. regulators by the beginning of 2009.

The original version of the vaccine was introduced in 2000. Third-quarter sales of Prevnar were up 24 percent from a year earlier at $634 million.

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Biomira to make move to U.S. under new name

BY Drew Buono

EDMONTON, Canada Biomira shareholders have approved a plan to move the company to the U.S. and to change its name to Oncothyreon Incorporated. Oncothyreon will be the parent corporation of a successor company of Biomira and its subsidiaries, according to Canada.com.

The biotech company, which focuses on cancer treatment, currently has a few drugs in its pipeline including Stimuvax, which it is developing with Merck to treat non-small cell lung cancer. That drug is currently in a Phase III clinical trial. The next drug that is furthest along in development is a small molecule called PX-12, which is a drug used to treat pancreatic cancer and is currently in a Phase II trial.

“We are very pleased to have received the strong support of our shareholders for our relocation and the revision of our capital structure,” chief executive officer Robert Kirkland said. The shareholders will receive one-sixth of a share of common stock of Oncothyreon in exchange for each Biomira share. The new company will be based in Seattle.

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