PHARMACY

Orencia approved by FDA to treat juvenile arthritis

BY Drew Buono

WASHINGTON The Food and Drug Administration has approved Bristol-Myers Squibb’s rheumatoid arthritis drug Orencia for the treatment of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis in children aged 6 and older.

Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is the most common form of arthritis in children. According to the American College of Rheumatology, the disabling autoimmune disease affects about one in every 1,000 children in the U.S. Symptoms range from mild to severe and may include chronic pain, joint swelling, stiffness, joint deformities, and soft tissue damage.

The FDA based its pediatric approval on results from a trial known as AWAKEN. The three-part study evaluated the safety and effectiveness of the drug in patients ages 6 to 17 who had moderately to severely active juvenile rheumatoid arthritis for an average of four years and whose symptoms did not subside when given one or more disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs such as methotrexate and anti-TNF drugs, which target an inflammatory protein called TNF (tumor necrosis factor).

The 190 patients enrolled in the first part of the study received Orencia every 14 days for the first month and then every month thereafter. The drug consistently improved symptoms.

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PHARMACY

Accuracy at institutional pharmacies is focus of new Cardinal/TCGRx pact

BY Jim Frederick

DUBLIN, Ohio Drug distribution and health services giant Cardinal Health has forged a three-year pact with TCGRx, a firm specializing in automation and bar-code-driven inventory tracking, to boost efficiencies and dispensing accuracy among its long-term-care pharmacy customers.

TCGRx offers automated pharmaceutical storage and dispensing systems, including automated oral solid packaging as well as shelving and drawer systems that store, count and package pharmaceuticals into patient-specific doses and pre-packaged formats. The systems can reduce storage space by up to 50 percent, according to Cardinal. They can also make it easier for operators of long-term-care pharmacies to manage inventory, applying sophisticated tracking and reporting that allow for streamlined ordering when inventory levels reach pre-defined levels.

“The systems will help improve patient safety through more accurate dispensing and patient-specific packaging that is easier to read and administer,” said Law Burks, vice president of marketing management for Cardinal’s healthcare supply chain services-pharmaceuticals division. The result, he said, would be improved patient compliance with drug therapy.

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Maryland grants $62 million for expansion of university Pharmacy Hall

BY Diana Alickaj

BALTIMORE, Md. Governor Martin O’Malley along with the state legislature of Maryland, has granted $62 million for the addition to Pharmacy Hall in the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, according to published reports.

The students and faculty of University of Maryland School of Pharmacy have been rallying for government support of the decade-long plan since Feb. 14, demanding that there would be an accommodation to the increased enrollment of an extra 120 students. Since there has been a shortage of pharmacists in America, the university has been calling for more room to accommodate its students, and to allow more students interested in pharmacy to enroll.

David J. Ramsay, DM, DPhil, president of the University of Maryland said of the funding, “In securing more than $62 million for the construction of the Pharmacy Hall addition, Gov. Martin O’Malley and the Maryland General Assembly have recognized the need to educate more pharmacists, carry out more cutting-edge research and deepen our commitment to serve the community. We are thankful for their leadership and their vision in helping us move forward with this desperately needed expansion.”

According to published reports, the building will be 92,635-square-feet, and seven stories high. It will include lecture halls with wiring for computers and distance-learning technology. The university also will build a patient interaction laboratory, which would be dedicated to research and the testing of new drugs.

The addition, slated to open for students in the fall of 2010, also will include such environmentally friendly features as energy-efficient lights and heat recovery air landing systems.

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