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Robert Johnson, pharmacy innovator and industry staple, dies

BY Jim Frederick

Robert Johnson, a highly regarded pharmacy educator, practitioner and pioneer in the field of pharmacy benefits management, died peacefully in his sleep March 2 after a long struggle with cancer.

Johnson’s passing drew an outpouring of condolences from many of the pharmacy leaders who said they benefited from his counsel, friendship and guidance over a long career in pharmacy. A 1962 Masters of Science graduate of Wayne State University, he began his career in independent pharmacy, later serving in numerous state and national pharmacy organizations.

Some of his many roles included: executive director of the Michigan Pharmaceutical Association and the California Pharmaceutical Association; president of the American Pharmaceutical Association (now the American Pharmacists Association) in 1974-75; president of the National Council of State Pharmaceutical Association Executives; and board chairman of the Scottsdale Healthcare System. Johnson was also an active participant in Phi Delta Chi Pharmacy Fraternity.

From 1990 to 1995, he served as corporate VP of McKesson Corp. and rose to become chairman of PCS Health Systems, one of the industry’s largest pharmacy benefit management firms prior to its purchase by CVS Caremark (now CVS Health). Following his retirement from that post in 1995, he served as a health consultant and, later, as an adjunct clinical professor at the University of California and as an assistant dean at Midwestern University College of Pharmacy.

Upon his retirement from PCS, he was honored by the company for being “a pioneer in developing the concept of a true partnership among pharmacists, plan sponsors and pharmacy benefit managers in order to improve the quality and effectiveness of pharmaceutical care.”

Johnson was also the 1993 recipient of APhA’s Remington Honor Medal, established in 1918 in the name of pharmacist, manufacturer and educator Joseph Remington to recognize distinguished service on behalf of American pharmacy.

Praise for the pharmacy leader came from many quarters. APhA executive VP and CEO Tom Menighan called Johnson “one of the greats in American pharmacy” and “a mentor to me when I joined the APhA staff the first time in 1987, early in my association career.”

Brian Correia, VP-network business services for CVS/Caremark, called Johnson “a legend in the managed care pharmacy industry.”

University of Minnesota College of pharmacy professor Lowell Anderson said, “Bob's national leadership as an association exec in California contributed to a state association culture of dynamic associations seeking to advance the profession's mission of successful practitioners providing quality services. His mentoring and leadership resulted in many state association execs who were able to successfully lead their respective states.”

Anderson called Johnson “one of the giants of the profession” and a mentor to many. “When I was speaker of the APhA house he provided leadership…that kept the membership focused and committed to addressing substantive issues,” he told DSN. “He was political in the best sense of the word, using process to help lead the house forward.”

“When I was president of APhA, as a former president he provided quiet mentorship that significantly improved my capacity to lead,” Anderson added.

“Most would agree that his greatest legacy was to leave every organization he touched in better shape than when he arrived,” added Don Dee, former executive director of the Minnesota Pharmacists Association.

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FDA OKs CSL Behring’s Idelvion

BY David Salazar
SILVER SPRING, Md. — Biotherapeutics company CSL Behring announced Friday that the Food and Drug Administration had approved its hemophilia B treatment Idelvion (coagulation factor IX (recombinant), albumin fusion protein). 
 
The drug is indicated as a routine prophylactic treatment to prevent and reduce frequency of bleeding episodes, as an on-demand bleeding control and prevention and as a perioperative management for bleeding. Certain patients can go up to 14 days between infusions of Idelvion, the company said. 
 
CSL Behring said it expects Idelvion to be available in late March. 
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CVS Health to offer naloxone without prescription in 23 states by month’s end

BY Michael Johnsen
WOONSOCKET, R.I. – CVS Health announced Monday that it will expand access to the opioid overdose-reversal medication naloxone at the end of March at its CVS Pharmacy locations in eight new states, including: Connecticut, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Ohio, Virginia and Vermont.  
 
Under a physician-approved protocol permitted by the state, CVS Pharmacy will be able to dispense naloxone to patients in these states without the need for an individual prescription.
 
"Naloxone is a safe and effective antidote to opioid overdose and by expanding availability of this medication, we can save lives and give more people a chance to get the help they need for recovery," stated Tom Davis, VP pharmacy professional practices at CVS Pharmacy. "By establishing a physician-approved protocol that allows our pharmacies to dispense naloxone to patients without an individual prescription, we strengthen our commitment to help the communities we serve by preventing drug abuse."
 
Naloxone is already available without a prescription at CVS Pharmacy locations through standing order or collaborative practice agreements in 15 states, including:  Arkansas, California, Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin.  
 
The company has said it will add a total of 20 states to its naloxone program in 2016 and expects to announce additional states throughout the remainder of the year.    
 
"Expanding access to the overdose-reversal drug naloxone is a critical part of our national strategy to stop the prescription drug and heroin overdose epidemic–along with effective prevention, treatment, and enforcement," said Michael Botticelli, director of National Drug Control Policy. "Thanks to efforts on naloxone like those announced today by CVS Health, more Americans will have access to this lifesaving drug."
 
The move to expand access to naloxone builds on CVS Health's commitment to help communities address and prevent drug abuse through education, outreach and safe medication disposal. In 2015, CVS Health launched a community outreach program called Pharmacists Teach, which brings local pharmacists to high school health classes to talk to students about the dangers of drug abuse. More than 15,000 students have already been part of the program.  High schools across the country can learn more about bringing Pharmacists Teach to their school here. 
 
CVS Health has also joined with the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids for the Medication Disposal for Safer Communities Program, which has donated more than 500 drug disposal units to police departments around the country. The program gives members of the community a safe and environmentally friendly way to dispose of unwanted medication and has already collected more than 28 metric tons of prescription drugs. Police departments across the country can apply to receive a drug collection unit from the program here.      
 
"CVS Health has been a leader in the work of preventing prescription drug abuse and ensuring safe disposal of unwanted medication that could otherwise be misused," said Marcia Lee Taylor, president and CEO, Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. "Tackling drug abuse in our communities requires a committed coalition of community partners and we have been proud to partner with CVS Health on the Safer Communities program since 2014."
 
 
 
 
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