PHARMACY

NCPA announces 2015 Prescription Drug Safety Award winner

BY David Salazar

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — The National Community Pharmacists Association has announced the winner of its 2015 Prescription Drug Safety Award, which is sponsored by Smart-Fill. Brian Beach of Seattle’s Kelley-Ross Pharmacy Group was given the award Sunday during the first General Session at the NCPA’s annual convention. 

For the last four years, Beach has fought opioid overdoses by working to reduce the stigma surrounding opioid overdoses and expand access of opioid overdose antidote naloxone. Beach and his team have also worked with other pharmacy partners and patients to ensure that those who need naloxone have access to it.

“Brian Beach is a very worthy recipient of the NCPA 2015 Prescription Drug Safety Award,” NCPA President John T. Sherrer said. “Regardless of whether opioid overdose results from illegal drug use or legal medication consumption, Brian believes that saving lives is the most important consideration, and that naloxone is the best available solution. His efforts to make the drug more accessible in emergency situations in Seattle are working.”

As part of his effort to fight prescription drug abuse, Beach’s pharmacy partnership, alongside Public Health-Seattle & King County and the university of Washington Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute provide naloxone to those who need it, particularly high-risk patients.

“On behalf of Smart-Fill and its more than 1,000 member pharmacies and affiliates across the country, we are proud to sponsor the 2015 NCPA Prescription Safety Award,” Smart-Fill Group VP Tim J. Gallagher said. “Brian and Kelley-Ross Pharmacies have made great strides in preventing deaths to due opioid overdoses in the Seattle King County area and are a shining example of the value of independent community pharmacies. We congratulate Brian and all his staff on this great achievement.”

Beach joined Kelley-Ross in 2004 after working at two different independent community pharmacies. In addition to serving on various national advisory boards, he has been the Washington State Pharmacy Association’s Long-Term Care Academy chair and president of WSPA. 

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APhA: More than half of House supports provider status bill

BY David Salazar

WASHINGTON — The American Pharmacists Association announced Friday that its fight toward provider status for pharmacists had reached a big milestone. According to an email from APhA EVP and CEO Tom Menighan, 219 of the 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives had signed on as a sponsor or co-sponsored H.R. 592, the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act.

The act would designate pharmacists as providers under Medicare Part B, a move that could have a big impact on areas that are medically underserved, especially given a growing shortage of physicians and other health care professionals.

The email from Menighan urged pharmacists to visit its Pharmacists Provider Care site to contact their representative or senator, as there is a version of the bill making its way through the U.S. Senate as well. 

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FDA expands Opdivo use for some NSCLC patients

BY David Salazar

SILVER SPRING, Md. — The Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Opdivo (nivolumab) as a treatment for advanced lung cancer. 

The drug can now be used on patients whose non-small cell lung cancer metastasized while undergoing platinum-based chemotherapy or after. The drug had been approved earlier this year for a different type of non-small cell lung cancer.

Opdivo woks by targeting proteins (PD-1/PD-L1) that are found in some cancer cells, potentially boosting the immune system’s ability to fight the cancer.

“There is still a lot to learn about the PD-1/PD-L1 pathway and its effects in lung cancer, as well as other tumor types,” said Dr. Richard Pazdur, director of the Office of Hematology and Oncology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “While Opdivo showed an overall survival benefit in certain non-small cell lung cancer patients, it appears that higher expression of PD-L1 in a patient’s tumor predicts those most likely to benefit.” 

Along with the new use for the drug, the FDA also approved a test to detect PD-L1 levels in order to help physicians find patients who would benefit the most from Opdivo. 

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