PHARMACY

NACDS announces retirement of Mary Ann Wagner

BY Adam Kraemer

ALEXANDRIA, Va. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores announced Tuesday that, effective Dec. 31, senior vice president of policy and pharmacy regulatory affairs Mary Ann Wagner will be retiring.

Wagner joined NACDS 13 years ago, following a long association with Hook Drugs and Hook SupeRx. She is a member of the Indiana Pharmacists Association, and served on the Indiana State Board of Pharmacy from 1988 to 1996.

According to NACDS, Wagner “has been responsible for leading the development of the Association’s policy positions with the NACDS membership, interacting with federal regulatory agencies, and working with the federal and state government affairs functions.”

She is the 2003 recipient of the Harold W. Pratt Award, pharmacy’s highest honor, and in 2004, she was named Butler University’s Distinguished Alum. “Words cannot adequately express our feelings of appreciation about the incredible work that Mary Ann has accomplished throughout her extremely successful career at NACDS and in the pharmacy industry,” stated Steve Anderson, NACDS president and chief executive officer. “Her sense of dedication, commitment, love, and passion for the industry is radiated in every fiber of her being. That is readily apparent to everyone who comes into contact with Mary Ann. Her responsiveness to the NACDS membership, her leadership skills, her incredible knowledge of the pharmacy industry, and her impact on public policy are traits to which we all aspire.”

Wagner plans to retire back to Indianapolis to spend more time with her family, and has said that she intends to continue working with NACDS in a consulting capacity.

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Rite Aid announces program to help seniors with Medicare Part D

BY Michael Johnsen

CAMP HILL, Pa. With the 2008 Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan open enrollment period beginning Nov. 15, Rite Aid on Monday announced that their pharmacies will look to playing a key role in educating seniors so they can make informed decisions about the best plan choice for their prescription needs.

“Rite Aid is committed to making sure our senior patients are fully educated and understand the Medicare prescription drug benefit,” stated Mark de Bruin, Rite Aid’s executive vice president of pharmacy. “We’ve teamed up with leaders in the managed care industry to create user friendly, detailed information on the Medicare Part D benefits as well as helpful step by step tips to help them determine the best Medicare Part D plan for their prescription needs. In addition, our 14,000 Rite Aid pharmacists are available to answer questions and offer explanation on the intricacies of the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit.”

All Rite Aid pharmacies are offering a free detailed Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Guide. In addition, Rite Aid pharmacists are trained on Medicare Part D to help seniors and caregivers navigate through the numerous plan options. Rite Aid also has a special website, www.riteaid.com/medicareadvisor, which allows patients to compare drug prices and get a complete list of plan options offered in their local area. Some Plans include a link to online enrollment forms.

To help educate its pharmacy patients 65 years and older on the various Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan options, Rite Aid has partnered with AARP/United Healthcare, Aetna and Wellpoint to provide detailed and useful in-store educational materials.

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FDA committee to examine new indication for Avastin

BY Allison Cerra

WASHINGTON The FDA’s Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee is set to review Genentech’s cancer drug, according to reports.

The advisory committee, which will meet Dec. 5, is said to discuss a new indication for Genentech’s cancer drug Avastin.

The company recently submitted an additional biologics license application for Avastin (bevacizumab) to treat patients who have not received chemotherapy for certain types of breast cancer.

Genentech has experienced some backlash from wholesalers and pharmacies over the drug, which is chemically similar to the company’s drug Lucentis, used to treat macular degeneration, a severe eye condition that usually occurs at a later age.

Although Avastin is not approved for ophthalmologic use, physicians use it instead of Genentech’s chemically similar drug Lucentis (ranibizumab), which is considerably more expensive.

Chairman for the Senate Special Committee on Aging, Herb Kohl, D-Wis., opposed the company’s new policy, saying it would cost taxpayers billions of dollars through higher Medicare costs.

Genentech said it would delay implementing its new distribution policy until Jan. 1, 2008.

In the first six months of this year, Avastin had sales of $1.1 billion and Lucentis had sales of $420 million.

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