PHARMACY

PQS provides Cardinal Health access to EQuIPP tool — a national med-related quality measurement platform

BY Michael Johnsen

SPRINGFIELD, Va. — Pharmacy Quality Solutions on Monday announced that it will collaborate with Cardinal Health to help 600 community pharmacies track their performance on Medicare Part D Star measures. 

“Community pharmacies play an integral role in helping patients manage their overall health, particularly when it comes to medication use and adherence,” stated Steve Lawrence, SVP independent sales Cardinal Health. “We’re excited to make this innovative tool available to our retail pharmacy customers, because it makes it easy for them to access invaluable information to better understand and constantly improve the level of quality care they provide to their patients.” 

“As Medicare Part D plans attempt to improve the quality of medication utilization for their patients, they are increasingly turning to their pharmacy networks as partners for quality improvement," said David Nau, president of Pharmacy Quality Solutions.

Medicare Part D Star measures track key quality care indicators, including medication use and compliance, and can be used by health plans to determine which retail pharmacies to include in their networks. Through this collaboration, 600 of Cardinal Health’s community pharmacy customers will utilize Pharmacy Quality Solutions’ EQuIPP tool — a national platform for medication-related quality measurement, benchmarking and collaboration among health plans, prescription benefit managers and community pharmacies. 

EQuIPP aggregates data from multiple health plans and pharmacies to measure the quality of medication use, including nonadherence, and makes this measurement available to all participants. 

Though Cardinal has invited 600 retail pharmacy customers to be part of this initial collaboration, the company plans to expand access to customers more broadly in 2014, the company stated.  

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FDA allows emergency use of still-unapproved vaccine against deadly meningitis amid Princeton University outbreak

BY Alaric DeArment

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Swiss drug maker Novartis is providing a vaccine to Princeton University amid an outbreak of potentially fatal meningitis that has affected at least eight students, the university said Monday.

Princeton said it had started a vaccination program with Novartis’ Bexsero (meningococcal group B vaccine [rDNA, component, adsorbed]). Bexsero currently has approval in Canada, Europe and Australia, and the Food and Drug Administration gave it conditional approval in response to an application from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for its use on the Princeton campus to protect students against the infection. It is currently in phase-1 and phase-2 clinical trials in the United States, but is being recommended for all Princeton undergraduate students, whether they live on- or off-campus, as well as graduate students living in dormitories.

Meningococcal serogroup B, also known as MenB, is a rare but devastating infection that progresses rapidly and can lead to death or permanent disability within 24 hours of symptom onset. It can be difficult for healthcare professionals to diagnose in its early stages because symptoms are often non-specific and flu-like, but one-tenth of those with the disease die despite treatment, and among those who survive, one-fifth suffer from lifelong disabilities such as brain damage, hearing loss and limb loss.

 

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Upsher-Smith gets promising results from phase-3 trial of epilepsy drug

BY Alaric DeArment

MAPLE GROVE, Minn. — An experimental drug under development by Upsher-Smith Labs for epilepsy is able to reduce seizures in patients with mild to moderate side effects, according to results of a late-stage clinical trial announced Monday.

The drug maker presented results of the phase-3 "PREVAIL" trial of USL255 at the American Epilepsy Society’s 67th Annual Meeting in Washington, which started Friday and ends Tuesday. USL255, an extended-release formulation of the drug topiramate, showed a significantly greater reduction in the frequency of weekly partial-onset seizures than placebo after 11 weeks of treatment, and side effects were generally resolved over time. Nearly all of the patients who finished the first part of the trial have elected to continue in a year-long extension study of the drug.

"Topiramate is a well-known, effective agent for the treatment of a variety of seizure disorders, but many patients experience challenging cognitive side effects while taking the immediate-release formulation of the drug," Barrow Neurological Institute of Phoenix professor of neurology and trial investigator Steve Chung said. "The PREVAIL trial showed that USL255, a once-daily, extended-release formulation of topiramate, is efficacious across a range of seizure types and patient severity."

 

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