PHARMACY

QS/1 unveils new logo, website ahead of new offerings

BY David Salazar

SPARTANBURG, S.C. — Healthcare software solutions company QS/1 announced Monday that it had rolled out a new logo and website. The changes are part of changes, including new products, that the company says are forthcoming.

“The new logo enhances the one we have used since QS/1 first went into business,” QS/1 president Tammy Devine said. “This new brand draws from the legacy and history of our decades in the business, and signifies the huge growth and transformation that has been taking place at QS/1.” 

The company’s redesigned website contains industry news, customer tesimonials for QS/1 products and information about its offerings.

“Rebranding is not something a company does lightly,” Devine said.. “With growth and new products on the horizon, we felt this was the perfect time to release a new look to reflect the direction of the company.”

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PHARMACY

FDA OKs Keytruda for certain advanced non-small cell lung cancer cases

BY David Salazar

SILVER SPRING, Md. — The Food and Drug Administration recently granted Merck’s Kaytruda (pembrolizumab) injection accelerated approval for use among patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer and who have tumors expressing the protein PD-L1. So far in 2015, there have bee 221,200 new cases of lung cancer and 158,040 deaths from the illness, according to the National Cancer Institute.

“Our growing understanding of underlying molecular pathways and how our immune system interacts with cancer is leading to important advances in medicine,” said Richard Pazdur, M.D., director of the Office of Hematology and Oncology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “Today’s approval of Keytruda gives physicians the ability to target specific patients who may be most likely to benefit from this drug.”

Keytruda, which was granted accelerated approval for use with advanced melanoma patients after being treated with ipilimumab last September, targets PD-L1 and blocks it in the hope of bolstering the immune system’s ability to fight cancer cells.

“Today’s approval of KEYTRUDA is the result of our deep commitment to bring the benefits of immunotherapy to cancer patients,” said Dr. Roger M. Perlmutter, president, Merck Research Laboratories. “Together with scientists and physicians around the world, we endeavor to improve the lives of patients suffering from these grievous illnesses.”

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PHARMACY

NACDS’ Jaeger: Community pharmacy key in emergency preparedness

BY DSN STAFF

Kathleen Jaeger, the National Assocation of Chain Drug Stores’ SVP pharmacy care and patient advocacy, has weighed in on the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America’s online conversation about preparedness month, which also features entries from organizations like the Red Cross and Healtcare Ready. Read Jaeger’s contribution about the current state of community pharmacy in emergency preparedness and the growth that it can still achieve below and click here to read all of the PhRMA conversation contributions. 

Regardless of the threat, the healthcare system’s preparedness and response capacity is critical to protecting the American public.  We have learned from previous events and threats that effective response begins with sound planning that encourages coordination among public and private sector entities to rapidly and effectively respond to a crisis. To this end, NACDS supports Healthcare Ready’s mission to build and enhance the resiliency of communities before, during and after public health emergencies.  As a convener of industry and government, the organization leverages lessons learned over the past decade to rebuild a more dynamic disaster planning process and safeguard patient health by offering solutions to critical problems.

For our part, community pharmacies are a valuable emergency response resource for reaching the public with essential medications and vaccines.  Pharmacists are uniquely positioned to reach broad segments of a community, especially since ninety-three percent of Americans live within five miles of a community pharmacy. As we have witnessed from forest fires to hurricanes to broad pandemics, pharmacies play an essential role as a trusted access point for care and are committed to working with Healthcare Ready to build a stronger health care preparedness system.   

During the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic, pharmacists improved the capacity and reach of the public health system by administering more than five million doses of H1N1 vaccine in a matter of weeks. The partnership between pharmacy and the public health community that formed during this outbreak provided a foundation to strengthen and expand connections between public health entities and community pharmacies, and recognize the extensive reach and capacity of pharmacies as a vital component of emergency response. 

In the six years since the outbreak, the public health community has embraced pharmacies as a trusted, go-to partner for disaster preparedness. This in turn means that pharmacies and the public health community work collaboratively to plan for upcoming disasters rather than calling on one another “just-in-time” as the disaster is unfolding. An article written by public health experts that appeared in the Biosecurity and Bioterrorism journal stated: “With the expanded role of community pharmacists in public health during the past decade, their participation in response to emergencies has become increasingly important.”

This new relationship among the public health community and pharmacies has taken many forms—one of which is through the collaborative development of a model Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for coordinating pandemic vaccination preparedness activities between public health programs and pharmacies, which is led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. Successful strategies, tactics, and operational components, identified through stakeholder interviews and workshops, were incorporated into a draft model MOU to formalize responsibilities between state-level public health programs and community pharmacies in pandemic vaccination planning and response. The next phase of the project is working with the state public health programs and pharmacies to address program needs for implementing this model MOU. 

While great progress has been made, more needs to be done to  remove needless legal and regulatory barriers that hamper disaster response efforts. Community pharmacy  looks forward to working with Healthcare Ready and the public sector to build a stronger preparedness healthcare infrastructure by leveraging community pharmacies as a resource and removing   harmful restrictions to access to care, in times of  disasters and everyday, to promote better health outcomes.   

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