PHARMACY

Pennsylvania program taps Walgreens to provide specialty pharmacy services

BY Jim Frederick

DEERFIELD, Ill. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare has selected Medmark, a division of Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy, as one of two preferred providers of specialty prescription services to the program’s nearly 400,000 participants.

The contract, announced today, will draw on Medmark’s ties to the state and Walgreens’ expanding capabilities in providing highly specialized medications. “With our Pittsburgh location, we believe our strong community ties and history of providing specialty pharmacy services for many years to Pennsylvania residents were important factors in DPW’s decision,” said Stanley Blaylock, president of Walgreens Health Services. “We’re a force in local economic development through job creation. As we continue to aggressively grow our business, we expect to create jobs at our Pittsburgh full-service specialty pharmacy facility, lower specialty pharmacy costs for the Commonwealth and improve patient care for individuals participating in DPW’s program.”

Under terms of the deal, Medmark will provide DPW’s medical assistance program with medication fulfillment, patient education and clinical support services. Its pharmacists and nurses will counsel patients on medication compliance and the management of side effects.

“We have an excellent reputation for providing integrated, patient-focused, comprehensive care across a wide range of complex medical and chronic health conditions,” said Michael Nameth, executive vice president of specialty pharmacy for Walgreens Health Services, which oversees the specialty pharmacy division.

Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy is a wholly owned subsidiary of Walgreens operated by its managed care division, Walgreens Health Services. The company has become one of the industry’s largest national providers of injectable and biopharmaceutical medications for patients with complex, chronic health and medical conditions.

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FDA launches new Web page to provide safety information on prescription drugs

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON The Food and Drug Administration announced Wednesday that it had launched a Web page to provide consumers and healthcare professionals with a single source of safety information about prescription drugs.

The page, www.fda.gov/cder/drugsafety.htm, provides links to information in categories such as drug labeling, drugs with risk evaluation and mitigation strategies, regulations and guidance documents and warning letters, import alerts, recalls, market withdrawals and safety alerts.

“By placing Web links to these up-to-date resources on a single page, we’re helping consumers and healthcare professionals find drug safety information faster and easier,” said Dr. Paul Seligman, associate director of safety policy and communication in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “This type of communication is aimed at helping consumers and healthcare professionals make well-informed decisions about medication use.”

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FDA approves generic version of Epivir

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON The Food and Drug Administration has granted tentative approval to Indian drug maker Macleods Pharmaceuticals’ generic version of GlaxoSmithKline’s HIV drug Epivir (lamivudine), FDA records show.

The drug would be available as 150 mg and 300 mg tablets, but cannot be marketed in the United States because of patent protection.

GSK’s patent for lamivudine will expire in 2010. Epivir had sales of $246.85 million in 2007, according to GSK financial records.

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