PHARMACY

Patient training on specialty drugs becomes major concern for pharmacies

BY Diana Alickaj

WASHINGTON Many pharmacies have recently placed more emphasis on patient training in an effort to lessen unnecessary risks for patients taking specialty drugs, according to published reports.

The cost of specialty drugs is high, about $400,000 per year for some patients, and failure to comply with the instructions on how to use them can result in even higher costs, especially for biologic drugs (as opposed to traditional oral medications).

ActiveCare Network, which operates clinics for biologic services, explains that the use of injected or infused specialty drugs are now becoming more mainstream, and are being used for such non-life-threatening illnesses as arthritis and allergies. To ensure that there won’t be any complications to patients, it is essential for them to be knowledgeable on how they are used.

According to published reports, 70 percent of new specialty drugs require clinical oversight while the other 30 percent are able to be used individually by the patient, and are known as self-injection drugs.

The problem with patient training is that the attention given to patients using biologic drugs varies among different pharmacies. Like ActiveCare Network, some offer clinics to provide patient training with no additional cost, while others cut down support services in order to cut costs.

Tom Solberg, associate vice president for specialty pharmacy at PBM Prime Therapeutics explains the problems with the lack of patient training, saying, “One of the ways that specialty pharmacies take costs out of the system is to cut [down] on support services. We don’t like to see that trend because we believe that will ultimately drive costs up, not down.”

In an effort to change services provided for patients using specialty drugs, many other companies such as the Rx division of Prime are enhancing their clinical support services, but are very cautious in how much support they provide for patients.

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PHARMACY

Study of Copaxone reveals that drug is not effective for patients in treatment of ASL

BY Diana Alickaj

WASHINGTON Copaxone, a blockbuster drug manufactured by Israel’s Teva Industries, has proven to be ineffective for the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, according to the company.

Copaxone, which earned Teva $436 million in revenue, was subjected to a 366-patient Phase II trial to investigate if it was able to reduce deterioration in patients with ALS. According to published reports, the study showed that the drug, although safe, did not increase rate of survival among patients battling the disease.

ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, plagues about 10,000 people in the U.S. and Europe. ASL leads to paralysis, and those who are diagnosed are expected to live within 3-5 years experiencing weakness in limbs, twitching and respiratory impairment, as well as other painful symptoms. Copaxone was the leading therapy for multiple sclerosis in the U.S., but based on the new findings, Teva will continue to search for other options in treating the disease.

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Manitoba pharmaceutical regulator tries to end online pharmacies

BY Drew Buono

MANITOBA, Canada The Manitoba Pharmaceutical Association is attempting to put a stranglehold on the province’s Internet pharmacy business, according to CBC news. Manitoba conducts a good deal of online pharmacy business.

The association has approved a new rule that would prevent pharmacies from filling out-of-province prescriptions starting June 30. If pharmacies don’t comply with this new rule, they can have their licenses revoked.

Troy Harwood-Jones, of the Manitoba International Pharmacy Association, said that kind of rule is unheard of in other provinces, and in a recent vote, more than 70 percent of pharmacists voted against it.

In response, the province has assigned a mediator to try to work something out between the Internet pharmacies and the association. Although, Harwood-Jones said that if a deal wasn’t reached, he thought many of the 20 Internet pharmacies in the province would leave.

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