PHARMACY

Lucentis improves vision among diabetes patients in trial

BY Allison Cerra

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — Genentech, a subsidiary of Roche, reported that its eye drug helped improve vision in patients suffering from a complication caused by diabetes.

In its phase-3 RISE study, Genentech said diabetic macular edema patients that received monthly Lucentis (ranibizumab injection) achieved an improvement in vision at 24 months, compared with placebo.

The RISE study is one of two late-stage clinical trials that Genentech is conducting on Lucentis. The drug maker said it hopes that with results from the RISE study and the second phase-3 trial, RIDE, Lucentis can be approved for a new indication by the Food and Drug Administration.

DME is a serious complication of diabetes that affects up to 10% of people with the disease and can lead to blurred vision, severe vision loss and blindness, the drug maker said. “DME is a leading cause of blindness among working-aged adults in most developed countries, and currently there are no FDA-approved medicines to treat patients who suffer from this debilitating condition,” said Hal Barron, Genentech chief medical officer and head of global product development. “We are encouraged by these data and await the results of RIDE, our other pivotal study in DME.”

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PHARMACY

Rite Aid assures patients it still has shingles vaccine in stock

BY Allison Cerra

CAMP HILL, Pa. — Responding to reports of a shingles vaccine shortage, Rite Aid is assuring customers that nearly 1,900 of its pharmacies have an ample supply.

Rite Aid noted that it can provide vaccinations against the nerve disease in 27-of-the-31 states where its stores are located, and in most of the states where Rite Aid operates, pharmacists can administer the vaccine to walk-in patients ages 60 years and older.

The company also reminded patients to call their local Rite Aid to see if appointments are necessary, as well as for the cost of the vaccination, which varies with insurance coverage. Nearly all insurance, including Medicare Part D plans, will cover at least some of the cost, Rite Aid said.

The drug store chain has vaccinated thousands of patients against shingles since 2007, and launched a nationwide awareness campaign last January.

In related news, supermarket retailer Supervalu also addressed the shingles vaccine shortage, stating that the company also had an ample supply of the vaccine on hand.

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E-prescribing of generics may be limited by pending legislation

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — Bills introduced in the legislatures of nearly a dozen states have pharmacy benefit managers and the generic drug industry fearing that the bills could lead to limits on doctors’ abilities to prescribe generics through e-prescribing.

The Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, the main lobby for PBMs, said the bills would prohibit doctors from seeing lower-cost drug options, including generics and preferred brands; would prevent the e-prescribing software from showing safety information; and would disallow lower-cost pharmacy options.

The bills are pending in Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and South Dakota.

According to a copy of the Indiana bill that Drug Store News obtained from the PCMA, the proposed legislation would prohibit “interference or limitations” that allegedly could get in the way of a drug order being entered into the software and transmitted. These would include the display of multiple messages and the display of advertisements or messages that offer encouragement, endorsement or incentives to use a “specific pharmacy or prescription of a specific drug or device at the point of care.”

Pfizer, the world’s largest drug maker, has lobbied on behalf of the legislation.

“The e-prescribing legislation under consideration in several states would actually increase physicians’ ability to select the right therapy for a patient, be it branded or generic,” Pfizer spokesman Raul Damas told Drug Store News. “Pfizer strongly supports e-prescribing policies that preserve patient autonomy, reduce healthcare costs and ensure quality patient care. Pfizer is actively working with legislators, physicians and patient groups to enact e-prescribing policy that reflects our shared priorities.”

But the generic drug industry doesn’t see those priorities as reflective of its own. The industry’s main lobbying group, the Generic Pharmaceutical Association, supports e-prescribing, as the PCMA does, but it also has expressed concerns about the bills, similar to the PCMA’s.

“The consumer may not know when there’s a generic equivalent available,” GPhA VP state government affairs Shawn Brown told Drug Store News. “I don’t know why you’d want to be less transparent for the patient and the physician, unless you’re just trying to protect your market share.”

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