PHARMACY

Pharmacists, retail clinicians weigh in on swine flu

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK By now, most people have heard of the A (H1N1) influenza virus, more popularly known as swine flu, but pharmacists and retail clinicians have been hearing a lot about it, according to an online Drug Store News survey of pharmacists and retail clinicians.

Among the pharmacists, 82.3% reported an increase in the number of patients inquiring about flu since news of the swine flu began to appear in the media. Retail clinicians reported a similar increase, of 85.7%. The largest percentages of both groups – 36.6% of retail clinicians and 35.4% of pharmacists – reported five or more questions per week about swine flu from patients. By contrast, 5.4% of retail clinicians and 11.4% of pharmacists reported hearing no questions in a given week.

“How does it spread? Is there a vaccine? Do we need to wear masks? Can I get treatment to prevent the flu?” one retail clinician wrote, listing questions that patients had frequently asked.

Many pharmacists and retail clinicians said they advised patients to practice good hygiene to help prevent the spread of the flu, such as frequent hand washing and covering the mouth when coughing and sneezing, as well as staying home when they stay sick. Still, one pharmacist commented that the swine flu “is being overplayed by the media and the president.”

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics, there were 5,469 confirmed cases of the A (H1N1) flu in the United States and six deaths as of Tuesday morning.

Click here to see a larger version of the survey results.

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Governments vie for GSK flu vaccine

BY Alaric DeArment

LONDON Several governments have placed orders with GlaxoSmithKline for a candidate vaccine for the A (H1N1) influenza virus, popularly known as swine flu, the British drug maker announced.

GSK said it will manufacture the new vaccine once the World Health Organization makes the virus seed available, and it expects the first doses to be available six months later.

As of Monday, the influenza strain had infected 5,123 people and caused five deaths in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many public health experts fear that the virus could mutate and return in more virulent form when the Northern Hemisphere enters its flu season later in the year.

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Shire to expand assistance program for UC patients

BY Alaric DeArment

PHILADELPHIA A British drug maker announced Monday that it would expand its patient assistance program for patients with ulcerative colitis.

Shire said that UC patients taking Lialda (mesalamine delayed-release tablets) or Pentasa (mesalamine extended-release capsules) and who became unemployed this year can receive their medication at no cost throughout the rest of the year.

“We are committed to helping UC patients better manage their condition,” Shire gastrointestinal business SVP Roger Adsett stated. “Offering greater financial support to those who may be struggling due to the current economic climate through our expanded Shire CARES PAP is a natural extension of the Shire mission.”

Last week, Pfizer announced that it would begin offering drugs for free to patients with prescriptions to Pfizer drugs who lost their jobs this year.

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