PHARMACY

Kirby Lester names Dave Johnson as new COO

BY Alaric DeArment

LAKE FOREST, Ill. Kirby Lester has appointed a new COO, the pharmacy automation provider announced.

Dave Johnson will direct the company’s daily operation in his new position, having previously served as VP business development. Johnson has worked in the healthcare field for 25 years, including seven years with AmerisourceBergen division AutoMed Technologies and positions at Baxter Healthcare and Major Pharmaceuticals.

“As we transition Kirby Lester from a company that manufactured and sold ‘plug-and-play’ automation products to today’s Kirby Lester where we are offering fully interfaced, system-critical products, the coordination of the operational details for superior new product rollouts and outstanding customer support and service is critically important,” Kirby Lester president and CEO Garry Zage stated. “With Dave’s leadership and experience, I am completely confident that Kirby Lester will continue to succeed in providing innovative technologies and responsive customer support to the pharmacy marketplace.”

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Sanofi Pasteur enters licensing agreement with Syntiron

BY Alaric DeArment

ARDEE, Ireland Sanofi Pasteur has entered a licensing agreement for a vaccine to prevent Staphylococcus bacterial infections, the vaccine maker announced Wednesday.

Sanofi Pasteur obtained the license from St. Paul, Minn.-based biotech company Syntiron to develop and commercialize the vaccine, which also protects against the dangerous methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureas, or MRSA. MRSA causes a large number of difficult-to-treat infections in people due to its resistance to most antibiotics.

Under the agreement, Sanofi Pasteur will support preclinical development with Syntiron and be responsible for future development, regulatory approval and commercialization. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“The agreement with Syntiron is just another example of Sanofi Pasteur’s interest in partnering with biotechs to produce innovative vaccines to address public health needs,” Sanofi Pasteur president and CEO Wayne Pisano said. “Along with our development of a vaccine to prevent Clostridium difficile infection, the successful development of a vaccine to prevent MRSA would be a major achievement in combating hospital-associated infections.”

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Senate quashes drug importation proposals, draws response from industry groups

BY Jim Frederick

WASHINGTON Bowing to concerns over drug safety and to a deal struck earlier between the Obama administration and U.S. drug makers, the Senate defeated legislation Tuesday that would have opened the way for Americans to directly import pharmaceuticals from Canada and other nations.

A proposal to allow importation, long opposed by the drug industry and retail pharmacy advocates in the United States, failed to win passage by a vote of 51-48, according to reports. The measure needed a 60-vote majority to pass.

The defeat came despite strong backing from some prominent Democrats and Republicans who saw it as a relief measure for seniors hit by rising drug costs and the recession. The Senate also nixed a counter-proposal that would have opened direct importation to medicines certified as safe by the Food and Drug Administration.

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores, an organization representing the nation’s drug stores, said that while it supported the goal of reducing prescription drug costs, it believes importation would put patients’ and consumers’ health and safety at risk, minimize the role of pharmacists in the dispensing of medication and counseling of patients, and adversely disrupt patient care and service.

“The U.S. distribution system is already one of the safest in the world and we are pleased that the Senate acted to preserve the system,” said NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson. “NACDS has worked to defeat legislation that would compromise the safety of prescription drug distribution channels.”

The trade group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America issued a statement Tuesday praising the defeat of both importation proposals. “We continue to support comprehensive healthcare reform so that millions of uninsured Americans can access high-quality and affordable healthcare coverage and services,” said PhRMA SVP Ken Johnson. “We believe that if health reform is done in a smart way, prescription drug importation is not necessary because most Americans will finally have health insurance and access to safe and secure prescription medicines.”

Some consumer advocacy groups, however, sharply criticized lawmakers for failing to allow importation as part of health-reform legislation. AARP EVP Nancy LeaMond expressed the group’s disappointment “that the Senate rejected this smart, bipartisan legislation to help bring down prescription drug prices for millions of Americans.

“For more than 50 years, AARP has been fighting to make health care and prescription drugs more affordable for older Americans,” LeaMond added. “Safe and legal importation is one step toward affordability that we have long supported, and we will continue to work with lawmakers to implement this provision without unnecessary roadblocks.

By contrast, AARP lauded Senate majority leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Democratic Sens. Max Baucus of Montana and Chris Dodd of Connecticut for their support Monday of legislation to close the Medicare prescription drug doughnut hole during a House-Senate conference committee on health reform legislation. “AARP sincerely thanks Majority Leader Reid and Sens. Baucus and Dodd for the commitment they made tonight to close the dreaded Medicare doughnut hole, a dangerous gap in prescription drug coverage that leaves more than three million seniors without affordable medications each year,” said AARP CEO A. Barry Rand. “No American should ever be forced to choose between filling their prescriptions or buying their groceries.”

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