PHARMACY

Report: Pa. officials may limit Rx transfers among patients

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — Fears about the likelihood of medication errors have officials in Pennsylvania mulling the possibility of restrictions on patients transferring prescriptions from one pharmacy to another, according to published reports.

CNBC reported Sunday that a rule recently put in place by the Ohio Board of Pharmacy that allows only one transfer per year had inspired Pennsylvania officials to consider a similar rule for their own state.

Officials said frequent transfers can result in confusion between pharmacists and patients that could lead to medication errors, especially because those transfers often are made over the phone, according to the article.

Retail pharmacies frequently offer such incentives as gift cards and discounts to customers who transfer their prescriptions or who encourage others to do the same.

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Novartis’ Menveo approved for use in children

BY Alaric DeArment

BASEL, Switzerland — The Food and Drug Administration has approved a Novartis vaccine for preventing meningococcal disease in children, the Swiss drug maker said.

Novartis announced the approval of Menveo (meningococcal [groups A, C, Y and W-135] oligosaccharide diphtheria CRM197 conjugate vaccine) for active immunization to prevent certain forms of meningococcal disease caused by Neisseria meningitidis in children ages 2 to 10 years. The FDA approved the vaccine last year for use in adolescents and adults ages 11 to 55 years.

“The approval of Menveo for the use in children 2 to 10 years of age is another important step toward our goal to protect people of all ages against this devastating disease,” Novartis vaccines and diagnostics division head, Andrin Oswald, said.

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Generics move McKesson profits up

BY Michael Johnsen

SAN FRANCISCO — McKesson Corp. on Monday reported revenue of $28.2 billion for its fiscal third quarter, ended Dec. 31, 2010. Third-quarter earnings per diluted share were 60 cents, which included a pre-tax average wholesale price litigation charge of $189 million ($133 million after-tax, or 52 cents per diluted share).

Excluding the AWP litigation charge, third-quarter earnings per diluted share from continuing operations were $1.12, the company noted. In the prior-year’s third quarter, earnings per diluted share were $1.19, which included the benefit of higher-margin distribution services revenues associated with the H1N1 flu virus.

The third-quarter AWP litigation charge represents an increase to an existing litigation reserve for current and possible future public entity claims against McKesson relating to drug reimbursement benchmarks known as AWPs. Following the company’s announcement of its settlement of all private-party AWP claims in the third quarter of fiscal year 2009, a reserve for estimated probable losses for all public-entity AWP claims was established.

McKesson has continued to engage in settlement discussions with the purpose of resolving various of the public-entity claims, the company stated. McKesson consistently has stated that these cases are without merit and, absent settlements acceptable to the company, they will continue to be defended.

In the third quarter, Distribution Solutions revenues were flat. U.S. pharmaceutical distribution revenues were down 1% due to reduced revenues associated with two of McKesson’s warehouse customers and the prior-year’s impact of the H1N1 flu virus.

"Distribution Solutions had strong performance this quarter," stated John Hammergren, McKesson chairman and CEO. "Looking ahead, we are well-positioned to continue to benefit from the pipeline of higher-margin generic drugs. We also have significantly improved our strategic position through our acquisition of U.S. Oncology, and our expanded suite of solutions and services will uniquely enhance oncologists’ ability to provide high-quality care to their patients."

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