PHARMACY

Pharmacy’s role in emergency preparedness underscored in statement to House subcommittee

BY Antoinette Alexander

ALEXANDRIA — Pharmacies play a critical role in emergency preparedness. That was the key message in a statement issued this week by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores to the House of Representatives’ Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communications.

The subcommittee held a hearing this week, titled "Taking Measure of Countermeasures: A Review of Efforts to Protect the Homeland Through Distribution and Dispensing of CBRN [chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear] Medical Countermeasures."

In the statement, NACDS outlined the ways in which pharmacies are equipped and stand ready to assist policymakers and public health officials at all levels of government in ensuring convenient access to countermeasures in a medically relevant time frame following an emergency.

NACDS discussed pharmacy’s role in extending the reach of public health during the aftermath of emergencies, such as Hurricane Katrina and during the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic. During these types of situations, pharmacists performed a range of services for patients and worked cooperatively with state and local partners to ensure access to high-quality patient care.

"Pharmacists have performed a range of services to targeted patient populations following emergencies, including dispensing countermeasures, administering vaccines, patient screening and triage, education of the public and monitoring for adverse events," NACDS highlighted in the statement. "Pharmacies have existing technological infrastructures that can be leveraged to triage patients, have a lot space to accommodate surges in patient demand and sell personal protective equipment and medical supplies that may also be important in preventing or treating CBRN threats."

"As the face of neighborhood health care, community pharmacies remain committed to assist public health efforts to protect our citizens through convenient access to countermeasures. We look forward to working with Congress and the public health community to ensure the nation’s community pharmacies are used to the greatest extent possible," the statement concluded.

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PhRMA: More than 850 medicines in development for diseases that disproportionately affect women

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — More than 800 drugs are in development for diseases that affect women, according to a pharmaceutical industry lobbying group.

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America released a list of 851 treatments for diseases that disproportionately or exclusively affect women, such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, depression, osteoporosis and age-related macular degeneration. All the medicines are either in clinical trials or awaiting review by the Food and Drug Administration, PhRMA said. About 90% of the people in the United States with lupus, migraines and fibromyalgia are women, while women having heart attacks also experience markedly different symptoms from men.

“As recently as a couple [of] decades ago, there was a basic assumption that what was good medically for men was good for women in almost every case,” PhRMA president and CEO John Castellani said. “Today, our increasing knowledge of the less obvious differences between men and women is providing great promise for new and better treatments that will benefit both sexes.”

The drugs in development include 139 for cancers, 38 for multiple sclerosis and 22 for osteoporosis.

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Mylan launches generic Risperdal M-Tab

BY Alaric DeArment

PITTSBURGH — Generic drug maker Mylan has launched a version of a drug used to treat schizophrenia, the company said Friday.

Mylan announced the launch of risperidone orally disintegrating tablets in the 0.5-mg, 1-mg, 2-mg, 3-mg and 4-mg strengths.

The drug is a generic version of Johnson & Johnson’s Risperdal M-Tab. Various versions of risperidone orally disintegrating tablets had sales of about $61 million in 2010, according to IMS Health.

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