PHARMACY

Rite Aid Caregiver Expo attracts large turnout

BY Michael Johnsen

PITTSBURGH Pittsburgh caregivers took advantage of the Rite Aid Caregiver Expo here on Saturday, visiting Rite Aid’s booth to consult with one of the chain’s many local pharmacists, including several from the recently-acquired Eckerd stores, on a variety of health issues.

At least two of the patients who visited the Convention Center that day were referred to their general practitioners, one of the Rite Aid pharmacists on site reported, in response to the free blood pressure screenings offered at the Rite Aid booth.

“When you look at the caregiver segment, it’s growing exponentially,” commented John Learish, Rite Aid senior vice president of marketing. “This is one of ways we demonstrate our commitment to our vision of being the customer’s first choice for health and wellness. We want them to be able to come to us, not just for the products that we offer. It’s the extra services, the extra information, the resources that we provide that help them manage their health.”

Local television celebrity Jennifer Antkowiak made an appearance at the Expo, reminding caregivers to take care of themselves in addition to their loved ones. Other presentations included: Paul Alper, director of Hamacher Resource Group’s Caregiver Programs, a program that helps relieve the financial burden on family caregiving with cash-back offers on certain products; Rite Aid pharmacist Tom Tritinger identified the resources available at any Rite Aid that could help Pittsburgh-area residents identify the best Medicare plan for them; and Aaron Difillippo, also a Rite Aid pharmacist, shared how a comprehensive medication therapy management program could aid caregivers. 

The Rite Aid Caregiver Expo included the following resources for local caregivers:

  • Pharmacists, financial planners and legal counsel available to answer questions and provide helpful hints
  • Representatives from hospice care and nursing home facilities
  • Caregiving associations
  • Advice from experts on how to juggle professional and caregiving responsibilities
  • Demonstrations and information on smoking cessation, health and beauty products and healthy eating
  • Information on basic care, disease states and recent research finds
  • Free blood pressure screenings
  • Free product and medication samples

The Rite Aid Caregiver Expo was hosted by Rite Aid, in partnership with GlaxoSmithKline and local media partner Trib Total Media. The event was organized by Drug Store News.

Rite Aid operates 175 stores in the Pittsburgh metro area and approximately 611 in Pennsylvania.

Click on the link to see a Q&A from the show floor: Helping care for others: interview with John Learish and view photos from the Caregiver Expo by clicking on this link.

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PHARMACY

Heritage launches its formulation of the generic hydrochlorothiazide

BY Drew Buono

EDISON, N.J. Heritage Pharmaceuticals has launched its new drug hydrochlorothiazide.

The drug is used as adjunctive therapy in edema associated with congestive heart failure, hepatic cirrhosis, and corticosteroid and estrogen therapy. The drug is also used in the management of hypertension.

The drug is available in 25 and 50 mg tablets in 100 and 1000 count bottles. Total annual market sales for Hydrochlorothiazide tablets in the U.S. were $30.8 million, according to March 2007 IMS data.

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Bayer pulls clotting drug from worldwide market

BY Allison Cerra

FRANKFURT, Germany Bayer has stopped worldwide sales of its anti-bleeding drug after a clinical study revealed the drug poses a higher risk of death.

Trasylol (aprotinin), designed to stem blood loss and enable patients receiving heart bypass surgery to avoid the use of transfusions, was tested in a Canadian clinical study last month. Preliminary results from that trial also suggested Trasylol increased the risk of death when compared with the other drugs.

Additional tests, which would have compared the safety and effectiveness of Trasylol with two others was halted after the initial results surfaced.

Leverkusen-based Bayer said Monday that it made the decision after discussions with the Food and Drug Administration, the German Federal Institute for Drugs and Medicine Products along with Health Canada.

Last week, the FDA said that evidence suggests Trasylol increased the risk of death compared with other drugs, and that the drug was blocking enzymes which dissolve blood clots, instead of aiding them. The agency began reevaluating the drug’s safety after the January 2006 publication of two studies that linked the drug’s use to serious side effects, including kidney problems, heart attacks and strokes.

The FDA approved the drug in 1993 to prevent the loss of blood and thwart the need for blood transfusions in surgeries to bypass clogged coronary arteries.

More recent studies have suggested the drug also raises the risk of death. One of those studies previously was withheld by Bayer from the FDA due to what a company investigation later characterized as a “regrettable human error.”

Bayer said it wanted to review the results from the Canadian trials before moving forward.

“Once the complete … dataset is available, Bayer will work with health authorities to evaluate whether these data have any impact on the positive benefit-risk assessment for Trasylol,” the company said in a statement. “At that time the temporary marketing suspension will be reevaluated.”

Shares of Bayer gained nearly 1.6 percent to €57.57 ($83.36) in Frankfurt.

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