Retailers, suppliers launch rapid response in wake of destruction by Hurricane Gustav
WASHINGTON With Hurricane Gustav sowing destruction in the Gulf Coast region and disrupting supplies of needed medicines, a nascent coalition of retail pharmacy groups, pharmaceutical manufacturers and other health care groups is back in business.
The group, Rx Response, was developed nearly two years ago in response to Hurricane Katrina and the threat of pandemic influenza. Its activation Monday “represents the first time Rx Response has been formally engaged to respond to a disaster,” the coalition noted in a statement.
Among the members of Rx Response: the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the National Community Pharmacists Association, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the Healthcare Distribution Management Association, the Generic Pharmaceutical Association, the Biotechnology Industry Organization, the American Red Cross and the American Hospital Association. Its goal: “to help ensure the continued flow of medicine to patients in a severe public health emergency.”
NACDS was also a cosponsor, along with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Distilled Spirits Council, The Hill newspaper and several other entities, for the “Spirits of the Gulf Coast” fundraiser, held last night in Minneapolis in conjunction with the Republican national convention in St. Paul to help raise money for Hurricane Gustav relief efforts.
Rx Response is designed as a single point of contact for the entire pharmaceutical supply system to help coordinate rapid response to emergencies like Gustav. It relies on “a robust network that allows federal and state emergency management officials to communicate with Rx Response regarding pharmaceutical needs and other issues which may impact the supply system,” the group noted. Communications are actively monitored by all segments of the pharmaceutical supply chain.
Rx Response representatives have already contacted public health officials in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama to assess any early needs, according to group officials. Public health officials in Louisiana and Alabama have asked for a list of post-landfall pharmacy closures, the group added, so that hospital patients and evacuees can be directed to operating pharmacies. In addition, the Louisiana Department of Health has requested that an Rx Response representative work out of the Louisiana Emergency Operation Center to speed communications between the State of Louisiana and Rx Response.
As for the role played by the chain drug store industry, “NACDS is communicating with their members about efforts such as Rx Response, and will continue to work in tandem to help maintain access during this time in the Gulf Coast region,” NACDS spokesperson Chrissy Kopple told Drug Store News via e-mail.
The Associated Press, meanwhile, is spotlighting efforts by individual pharmacy retailers in the Gulf region, including bringing in additional pharmacy staff from surrounding states and ensuring an adequate supply of emergency items like flashlights, water and batteries along with medicines.
NACDS applauds Senate bill to curb illegal meth production
ALEXANDRIA, Va. Acting to halt the illegal production and abuse of methamphetamines, the Senate has passed new legislation to strengthen the ability of law enforcement and pharmacy operators to combat the problem.
The National Association of Chain Drug Stores today praised passage of the bill, known as the Methamphetamine Production Prevention Act. If signed into law, the proposal would spur the adoption of methamphetamine precursor electronic logbook systems, thus providing law enforcement with easier access to information and streamlining recordkeeping requirements for pharmacies.
“The chain pharmacy industry recognizes the importance of addressing the serious methamphetamine problem,” noted NACDS Thursday. “In fact, prior to the introduction of state and federal legislation, the majority of chain pharmacies took voluntary, proactive steps to reduce the theft and illegitimate use of legitimate products that contain methamphetamine precursors, that is, products containing pseudoephedrine and ephedrine. Pharmacies took these steps despite the possibility that instituting barriers could lead to consumer complaints and reduced sales.”
“We greatly appreciate your willingness to engage us throughout the drafting process,” NACDS president and CEO Steven Anderson told the lawmakers. “We commend you for developing strong legislation that will assist retailers and law enforcement to combat the serious problem of illicit methamphetamine production and abuse.”
NACDS also applauded original cosponsors Senators Diane Feinstein (D-CA) and Joe Biden (D-DE) for their support of S. 1276.
“Senate passage of this legislation sends an important message that preventing the illegal production and abuse of methamphetamine is imperative to our nation’s well being,” said Anderson. “S. 1276 will help law enforcement efforts, while also allowing increased efficiency in logging meth precursor sales. We encourage the House to join the Senate in passing this legislation so that it can be enacted into law.”
Cephalon fights allegations of falsely promoting drugs for the wrong use
FRAZER, Pa. Cephalon has finalized an agreement with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the Department of Justice and other federal agencies concerning allegations that it promoted three drugs for uses that the Food and Drug Administration had not approved, the company announced Monday.
The allegations concerned the cancer-related pain drug Actiq (oral transmucosal fentanyl citrate), the sleep-disorder drug Provigil (modafinil) and the seizure drug GabitRil (tiagabine hydrochloride). Under the terms of the agreement, Cephalon will pay $425 million reserved last year plus $12 million interest and plead guilty to a single misdemeanor violation of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. It will also enter into a five-year Corporate Integrity Agreement with the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services.