PHARMACY

Merck, AstraZeneca announce collaboration for investigational cancer treatment

BY Alaric DeArment

LONDON Two big drug makers will work together to investigate a new combination therapy for cancer.

U.S. drug maker Merck & Co. and Anglo-Swedish drug maker AstraZeneca announced Monday that they would work to develop a cancer-fighting regimen combining Merck investigational compound MK-2206 and AstraZeneca compound AZD6244. Both compounds have completed phase 1 clinical testing, and the AstraZeneca compound is in phase 2 studies.

Evidence from preclinical studies has indicated that the combination of the two drugs could enhance their ability to fight cancer. The companies said this was the first time that two large drug companies had collaborated to investigate combining drugs at such an early development stage.

“There is strong scientific rationale to suggest that the potential benefit to cancer patients of this combination may far exceed the sum of the parts,” Merck Research Labs SVP and franchise head for oncology Gary Gilliland said in a statement. “In order to harness the true potential of the combined administration of these compounds, AstraZeneca and Merck have established a pioneering, early-stage collaboration based on our mutual determination to develop impactful therapies that improve patients’ lives.”

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NCPA survey: Accreditation requirements hinders pharmacists from offering DME equipment

BY Drug Store News Team

NEW YORK Almost one-third of those community pharmacists who already offered DMEPOS services responded that they would cease delivering Medicare services if Congress doesn’t act soon.

 

That should be a wake-up call for Congress.

 

 

The reality is the number of community pharmacies that would no longer supply products like diabetes test strips to their Medicare patients is a lot closer to 90% of all community pharmacies, or approximately 20,000 pharmacies, more or less, given that only one in 10 are currently accredited under Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services guidelines, the fact that the accreditation deadline is only five months away and it takes on average more than six months to become accredited.

 

 

To be sure, the survey is a sample of about 1,000 self-reporting pharmacists and there may be a good number of community pharmacists currently pursuing accreditation not included in the 10%, but the bare fact remains that the vast majority of community pharmacies aren’t accredited and will decline to become accredited come Oct. 1.

 

 

What does it all mean? To quote Bruce Roberts, NCPA EVP & CEO, it means “the current policy could prevent patients, especially in underserved areas [such as rural communities], from accessing medical supplies that help navigate health challenges such as controlling diabetes.”

 

 

Approximately 17.9% of all Medicare households are located in rural communities, according to a Kaiser Foundation report released in February, which means that almost one in five of all Medicare recipients may have greater difficulty accessing their testing supplies.

 

 

And that should be a bigger wake-up call for Congress, as well as their Medicare-eligible constituents.

 

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NCPA survey: Accreditation requirements hinder pharmacists from offering DME

BY Michael Johnsen

ALEXANDRIA, Va. A survey of National Community Pharmacists Association members found that almost one-third (31%) of independent pharmacist-owners in the DMEPOS business would cease offering durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and supplies to their Medicare patients if new accreditation mandates take effect on Oct. 1.

That includes diabetes supplies.

“Pharmacists have been unfairly singled out for this accreditation rule, but patients will be the ones who truly lose out if this isn’t changed,” stated Bruce Roberts, NCPA EVP and CEO. “These findings illustrate that the current policy could prevent patients, especially in underserved areas, from accessing medical supplies that help navigate health challenges, such as controlling diabetes. We hope Congress will act swiftly with the accreditation deadline fast approaching.”

For those independents currently not in the DMEPOS business, mandated accreditation would significantly deter 67% of those respondents from participating in the future.

Currently, only 1-in-10 community pharmacies currently providing DMEPOS have become accredited. The accreditation fees, training and implementation costs are projected to total at least $5,000 to $7,000, over three years, which is cost prohibitive for many pharmacists.

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