PHARMACY

Rite Aid gears up to vaccinate patients ages 50 years, older for shingles

BY Alaric DeArment

CAMP HILL, Pa. — A decision by the Food and Drug Administration to lower the age at which patients can receive a vaccine for shingles opens the door for pharmacists to administer it to more patients.

Rite Aid said Tuesday that pharmacists at more than 2,100 of its stores now could vaccinate patients ages 50 years and older with Merck’s Zostavax (zoster vaccine live) thanks to the FDA’s approval of the vaccination for patients in that age group. Previously, it was only approved for patients ages 60 years and older.

“The new FDA recommendation means that Rite Aid pharmacists can now help a much wider range of patients protect themselves from this painful nerve disease,” Rite Aid EVP pharmacy Robert Thompson said. “The vaccine can often be administered to walk-in patients, making it an easy decision to get vaccinated against shingles.”

Shingles is a painful disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. While symptoms of chickenpox disappear in most children after a week or so, the virus, a form of herpes virus, remains in the nerve cells. Later in life, a compromised immune system or old age can reactivate the virus, resulting in shingles.

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PHARMACY

APhA emphasizes pharmacists’ role at front of healthcare line

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — The American Pharmacists Association wants to ensure that pharmacists continue to play a significant role in health care, and made the pharmacist’s ever-expanding role the main focus of its annual meeting in Seattle, which ended Monday.

“APhA’s strategic focus is on advancing the practice model and recognizing the pharmacist as an essential member of the healthcare team, empowering members to engage in expanded patient-care roles, advocating for the profession and patients, and growing leaders for APhA and pharmacy practice,” incoming president and Columbus, Ohio-based pharmacist Marialice Bennett said in her address, titled “Perseverance Will Lead to a Stronger Tomorrow.”

The conference, which drew more than 6,500 attendees, focused on such topics as medication therapy management, adherence, the Food and Drug Administration’s Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies, and pharmacogenomics.

“We have done remarkable work to build a globally recognized association and to ensure our profession’s future,” Bennett said. “But we can never rest when so many of our patients are struggling or when the miracles these medications can represent go unrealized. It is our responsibility to transition from making and providing medications for our patients to making medications work for our patients. As a profession, we must serve as the [medication therapy management] pharmacist for the American public and help patients make the best of their medications.”

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PHARMACY

Kerr Drug CEO honored for role in healthcare field

BY Alaric DeArment

RALEIGH, N.C. — Kerr Drug CEO Tony Civello has received recognition for Health Care Hero Lifetime Achievement from the Triangle Business Journal, Kerr said Tuesday.

The journal cited Civello’s work to refocus retail pharmacy in the healthcare field and his leadership in the retail pharmacy industry.

“Pharmacists are totally underutilized in health care,” Civello said. “Now more than ever, just handing a bag of medicine to somebody and ringing them up isn’t a good use of their education. The best and most cost-effective way to improve the healthcare system is to have pharmacists and physicians working together for the overall benefit of patients.”

A graduate of the University of Pittsburgh’s school of pharmacy, Civello was in charge of the group that purchased Kerr in 1997, and since has led the chain to focus on such clinical services as immunizations and medication therapy management, while the company has expanded into such areas as specialty pharmacy and long-term care pharmacy through its Kerr Health program.

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