PHARMACY

Patent office proposing to appeal decision to limit biotech patent applications

BY Diana Alickaj

SAN FRANCISCO The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is debating on whether to appeal a U.S district court in Virginia, which ruled on April 1 to allow the biotechnology industry to submit patent applications an unlimited number of times, according to published reports.

The biotechnology industry, especially pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, feels that if the government regulates how many times they can submit a patent application, it would prevent the industry from protecting new inventions in the field, according to published reports.

If the USPTO where to appeal the initial rules, it would allow biopharmaceutical companies only two chances to resubmit its patent application after the first time, and they would have to limit applications to 25 claims, which would include the items named in a patent that define the disease the drug is claimed to treat. The problem is that biotech companies would have to wait until the clinical trials are finished to submit that patent, which would allow for competitors to beat them in the process.

According to published reports, USPTO argues that the new rules will help regulate the patent process, and will have companies thoroughly investigate a drug before filing for a license. The changes, according to published reports, would also help limit paperwork and would allow other patents to be explored rather than delayed. According to USPTO, of the 467,000 applications they received in 2007 30 percent were continuations while 760,000 have remained unseen and are waiting to be reviewed.

Even though there has been extreme debate, if a patent-reform bill that was proposed in 2007 passes, USPTO would have more control over regulations making their case the probable result.

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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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