HEALTH

NACDS, NCPA praise congressional passage of safe drug-disposal legislation

BY Allison Cerra

ALEXANDRIA, Va. Two groups representing the nation’s pharmacies lauded the passage of the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act by the Senate and House of Representatives.

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the National Community Pharmacists Association announced their support of the bill, which fosters collaboration between pharmacies, consumers and law enforcement for the safe disposal of unused drugs. The National Community Pharmacist Association developed its own voluntary prescription drug-disposal program, called Dispose My Meds.

“Prescription drug abuse is at epic proportions in many parts of the country, and community pharmacists are uniquely positioned to help Americans properly dispose of their expired and unused prescription drugs,” said NCPA acting EVP and CEO Douglas Hoey. “We commend members of Congress from both parties for coming together to approve this important legislation.”

NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson noted the organization welcomed "advancing the safe use and safe handling of medications."

“By steering clear of a drug take-back program mandate, Congress wisely prevented unintended consequences that could have undermined the health and safety of the public and of pharmacy personnel,” Anderson said. “NACDS appreciates the work of Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Reps. Jay Inslee, D-Wash.; Bart Stupak, D-Mich.; Joe Barton, R-Texas; and Lamar Smith, R-Texas, to ensure that good public policy won the day on this important issue."

In related news, Walgreens on Thursday announced its first-ever safe drug-disposal program through a collaboration with Sharps Compliance, which has worked with the NCPA on the Dispose My Meds program.

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Oncologists favor biosimilar adoption, Decision Resources finds

BY Alaric DeArment

BURLINGTON, Mass. While biosimilars promise to provide therapies for a wide range of diseases, their biggest fans may come from cancer specialists, according to a new report.

Healthcare market research firm Decision Resources found in a report that oncologists would be the most aggressive in adopting biosimilars compared with other specialists because of their lower clinical trial requirements. According to research, oncologists in the United States will adopt biosimilars faster than their European counterparts because they will require fewer and shorter phase-3 clinical trials before they feel comfortable prescribing them.

The firm expected biosimilars of granulocyte colony-stimulating factor, as well as biosimilars of monoclonal antibody therapies used to treat cancer, to reduce brand sales by more than $7 billion in 2019 in the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, which Decision Resources collectively refers to as the “EU5.”

“Because of patent expiries and more-established regulatory pathways for approving biosimilars in Europe, most biosimilar [monoclonal antibodies] will launch in the EU5 before the United States,” Decision Resources analyst Cindy Fung said. “As a result, U.S. physicians will likely benefit from clinical experience in European markets that will increase their rate of adopting these agents.”

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Roundtable discusses importance of specialty pharmacy, drugs

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK The subject of specialty pharmacy reached a whole new level of nuance as a wide variety of stakeholders gathered for a roundtable discussion on its role in health care Wednesday at The Chemists’ Club in New York.

The roundtable, titled “Slowing the Impact: The Role of Specialty Pharmacy in Managing Progressive and Chronic Diseases” and moderated by Health Affairs editor-in-chief Susan Dentzer, included perspectives of a pharmacy benefit manager, a healthcare company, a pharmaceutical company, a multiple-sclerosis advocate, an ethicist and an MS patient, all sharing their perspectives on the fast-growing field.

Specialty drugs have grown at a rapid pace over the years. According to AARP, 6-of-the-top-10 drugs in the country are expected to be biologics by 2014, compared with 1-out-of-10 in 2000; and IMS Health predicted that the specialty pharmaceuticals services segment will reach $160 billion by 2013.

“In addition to becoming a unique category of pharmaceuticals, specialty drugs are becoming mainstream,” said Jacqueline Kosecoff, CEO of Prescription Solutions, a PBM and part of UnitedHealth Group.

Another perspective was that of Ken Bandler, a multiple-sclerosis patient diagnosed in 1990, who stressed the importance of accessibility. “There must be an effort to ensure [specialty drugs] are affordable for the patients who take them,” Bandler said, acknowledging the expenses and other challenges that go into developing drugs, which fellow panelist and Bristol-Myers Squibb VP health services for the Americas Ross Maclean had spoken about earlier.

Other panelists included Lee Newcomer, UnitedHealthcare VP oncology in women’s health and genetics; The Hastings Center deputy director and research scholar Nancy Berlinger; and PJ Weiner, senior manager for advocacy programs of the New York City-southern New York chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

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