PHARMACY

Rite Aid advises consumers get their flu shot in first Facebook live event

BY Michael Johnsen

Rite Aid on Thursday hosted its first-ever flu-focused Facebook live event featuring health expert Jennifer Caudle and Rite Aid certified immunizing pharmacist Chris Altman that as of the next day had been viewed more than 3,000 times.

The Facebook live event stressed to consumers the importance of getting their flu shots this holiday season, and that Rite Aid makes that errand as easy and convenient as possible.

"Unless you want to run the risk of getting the gift of the flu this holiday season, it's important to get our flu shots and encourage our families to do that, too," Caudle, a nationally renowned health expert and practicing family physician, shared with viewers. Both Caudle and Altman fielded call-in questions during the live webcast, which was announced earlier this week.

This year, Camp Hill, Pa.-based Rite Aid is offering three types of flu vaccines: a quadrivalent flu vaccine which offers protection against four strains of the flu; the standard trivalent vaccine; and FLUAD, a trivalent vaccine with adjuvant, an ingredient that helps create a stronger immune response to vaccination, which is approved for people 65 years old and older.

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PHARMACY

KKR and WBA close PharMerica deal

BY Michael Johnsen

Investment firm KKR and minority investor Walgreens Boots Alliance, based in Deerfield, Ill., on Thursday closed its acquisition of PharMerica, a provider of specialty pharmacy services.

The deal, first announced in August, was closed ahead of schedule. The all-cash transaction is valued at roughly $1.4 billion and will make PharMerica a private company. In connection with the completion of the acquisition, shares of PharMerica’s common stock will cease trading on the NYSE prior to the opening of the NYSE on Dec. 8, 2017.

“This is an opportunity to expand into a growing segment, and to do so through a national footprint,” Walgreens Boots Alliance co-COO Alex Gourlay reported in August. “As the healthcare landscape and patients’ needs continue to change, this is another way we can support quality, affordable patient care.”

PharMerica serves the long-term care, hospital pharmacy management services, specialty home infusion and oncology pharmacy markets through 96 institutional pharmacies, 20 specialty home infusion pharmacies and five specialty oncology pharmacies in 45 states.

UBS Investment Bank and BofA Merrill Lynch served as financial advisors to PharMerica and Davis Polk & Wardwell served as PharMerica’s legal advisor. Simpson Thacher & Bartlett and Weil, Gotshal & Manges served as legal advisors to KKR and Walgreens Boots Alliance, respectively.

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AmerisourceBergen makes push to curb opioid diversion, misuse

BY DSN STAFF

Healthcare distributor AmerisourceBergen has reaffirmed its commitment to ongoing supply chain safeguards and announced plans to build partnerships in an effort fight opioid abuse and diversion.

The Valley Forge, Pa.-based company said that since 2007, it has provided the Drug Enforcement Administration with daily reports of all opioid-based medication orders that include quantity, type and receiving pharmacy, which it says has led to tens of thousands of stopped shipments of suspicious orders. It said it would continue to guard its supply chain by using data and analytics to analuze orders from customers against their peer groups to identify suspicious behavior. Additionally, the company said it was continuing to invest in its Diversion Control Team, which includes pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and former law enforcement professionals. The ream visits customer sites, conducts surveillance and reviews customer products, AmerisourceBergen said.

The company also noted that it remains commited to taking no action to market or creae demand for opioids, and that it has not provided incentive-based compensation or bonuses around the sale of opioids, nor does it have plans to.

“The commitments and initiatives announced today reflect our belief that all companies in healthcare should be constantly looking at ways to innovate, collaborate and enhance existing practices in order to best combat the opioid issue,” AmerisourceBergen president, chairman and CEO Steve Collis said. “Alongside our recent legislative recommendations aimed at supporting regulator and industry data transparency, these reflect our dedication to doing our part to combat diversion and misuse of opioid products.”

AmerisourceBergen said that it would work to find partnerships that will offer opioid abuse solutions. This is in addition to the company’s collaboration with Walgreens to bring safe medication disposal units to 900 Walgreens stores near military bases and other areas that have borne the brunt of the opioid epidemic.

The new initiatives follow the company’s November call for new guidelines surrounding data transparency between the DEA, drug distributors and pharmacies.

“Given the current silos within the supply chain, presently only DEA has access to comprehensive, critically needed data on the total quantities of opioids sold to pharmacies across the United States,” Collis said. “While distributors are individually required to report controlled substance data to DEA, we currently are not privy to if our peers in the industry are supplying opioid-based medicines to the same pharmacies we are. AmerisourceBergen is committed to working collaboratively to gain access to this data so that all distributors would be better able to detect suspicious orders, and ultimately help stop bad actors in their tracks.”

AmerisourceBergen’s suggestions included allowing distributors access to de-identified DEA data to help evaluate the context of a pharmacy’s opioid order, establishing additional protocols around opioid ordering and using DEA registrant fees to fund enhanced data capabilities, among others.

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