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PhRMA: 900+ biotech drugs in development

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — Drug makers have 901 biotech drugs under development for more than 100 diseases ranging from cancers and infectious diseases to autoimmune disorders and cardiovascular diseases, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America said.


Cancer drugs, in particular, have seen tremendous activity, with 353 drugs for cancer and related conditions included on the list. The list also included 69 drugs for autoimmune diseases, 187 for infectious diseases and 59 for cardiovascular diseases. They included 300 monoclonal antibodies, 298 vaccines, 20 interferons and 23 antisense drugs.


“Innovative, targeted therapies offer enormous potential to address unmet medical needs of patients with cancer, HIV/AIDS and many other serious diseases,” PhRMA president and CEO John Castellani said.

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NCPA, NACDS to Congress: Drug stores save U.S. money

BY Alaric DeArment

A group representing independent pharmacies is urging Congress to cut the deficit by reducing healthcare expenditures, but “without compromising patients’ access to their pharmacy of choice or harming local jobs.” In a letter sent last month to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, the National Community Pharmacists Association suggested increasing use of generic drugs, encouraging such services as medication therapy management, collecting manufacturer rebates, and allowing patients to choose their pharmacies and avoid requirements to use mail-order services. These measures, the NCPA said, could reduce spending on drugs and increase medication adherence.


“We believe that significant savings can be found through simple reforms to programs like Medicare and Medicaid that will result in reduced drug costs for the federal government and consumers,” NCPA CEO and EVP Douglas Hoey said. “Nothing can save the health system more money than the appropriate use of generic medications. Local pharmacists are leading the way on the proper use of these cost-cutting drugs.”


Meanwhile, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores sent a letter to the same committee, calling for moves to increase medication adherence and urging collaboration with community pharmacy in developing solutions to curb healthcare costs, while at the same time maintaining patient access to prescription medications and pharmacy services. Highlighting the accessibility of local pharmacists, the letter urged improved medication adherence as key to improved health and reduced costs.

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Novartis stays focused on shipping, developing vaccinations

BY Alaric DeArment

BAGSVAERD, Denmark — A lot has been happening at Swiss drug maker Novartis in the realm of vaccines.


In July, the company began early shipment of its flu vaccine, Fluvirin, in order to ensure that patients can receive the earliest possible protection against influenza. The drug maker plans to ship more than 30 million doses.


In June, the Food and Drug Administration accepted Novartis’ regulatory approval application for expanding the use of Menveo (meningococcal [Groups A, C, Y and W-135] oligosaccharide diphtheria CRM197 conjugate vaccine) to include infants and toddlers from the age of 2 months; the vaccine is approved for individuals ages 2 years to 55 years.


Also in June, Novartis announced results from a trial of Bexsero among 1,800 infants showing that it induces a “robust immune response” to meningococcal serogroup B when administered with other routine vaccines. Meningococcal serogroup B infection can be fatal among infants in their first year.

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