PHARMACY

More small chains introduce $4 generic drug program

BY Adam Kraemer

PITTSBURGH Nationwide, small grocery chains with in-store pharmacies have taken a page from Wal-Mart’s book and have begun to fill prescriptions for generic medications for $4, often for 400 drugs or more.

Shop ‘n Save, a 15-location Pittsburgh grocer, has started filling prescriptions for more than 450 generic medications at a cost of $4 each, the Pittsburgh Business Times reported.

Nine of Shop ‘n Save’s Pittsburgh-area stores, once owned by Supervalu, have pharmacies operated by Med-Fast Pharmacy. The others, operated by local, independent pharmacies, have also implemented the new generic program. The program is designed to compete with such national chains as Wal-Mart, which offers a similar deal.

Lincoln, Neb.-based B&R Stores, too, is offering a $4 generic prescription service on more than 400 drugs. “We’ve always had a good low-cost pricing reputation, and we want to keep that,” said Claude Frerichs, pharmacy director. “The economy is tight right now and if there is anywhere we can help, we will.” 

Shop ‘n Save is pairing its $4 generic program with a guarantee to fill prescriptions in 10 minutes or less. “That will save our customers time and money,” Bryan Bisceglia, the director of marketing and business development for Med-Fast, said in a statement.

Eligible prescriptions include certain antibiotics and treatments for arthritis, cholesterol problems, allergies, eyes, ears, heart conditions, skin irritations, coughs and colds.

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Harvard program seeks to discourage doctors from prescribing pediatric antibiotics

BY Drew Buono

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. A program was conducted at the Harvard Medical School in an effort to change doctors’ prescribing habits for antibiotics and to educate parents of small children about the proper use of antibiotics, according to Reuters.

The program was initiated because of the emergence of microbes that are resistant to antibiotics because doctors prescribed the medications when they weren’t really needed.

Harvard Medical School’s Jonathan Finkelstein and colleagues conducted the program in 16 Massachusetts communities between 1988 and 2003. Finkelstein’s team measured changes in antibiotic prescribing rates among three groups of children: 3 to 24 months, 24 to 48 months, and 48 to 72 months.

By the end of the study, the intervention had not changed the rate of antibiotic use in the youngest group, but for children between 24 and 48 months, the rates decreased by 4.2 percent and for the oldest children, the rates decreased by 6.7 percent.

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Patent office rejects Gilead patents for Viread

BY Drew Buono

WASHINGTON The Patent and Trademark Office has tentatively rejected four patents for Gilead Sciences’ HIV drug Viread, according to published reports.

The Public Patent Foundation filed a petition in March seeking to revoke the patents for the drug because they felt the drug should never have been patented in the first place, as the technology used to make the drug had been previously disclosed publicly.

The PTO is now re-examining the patents. Industry experts have said that it is common for the federal agency to tentatively rule patents invalid after having been asked by a third party to re-examine them. What would be unlikely would be the patents being permanently revoked, which has only occurred about 10 percent of the time.

Gilead sells Viread under that name and in combination with other drugs as Truvada and Atripla. Taken together, the three HIV treatments generated $3.1 billion in sales last year, according to the company.

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