PHARMACY

Study: Whooping cough vaccine may not prevent infection

BY Michael Johnsen

SILVER SPRING, Md. — A new study is helping to provide a better understanding of vaccines for whooping cough, the Food and Drug Administration announced Wednesday. Based on an animal model, the study shows that acellular pertussis vaccines licensed by the FDA are effective in preventing the disease among those vaccinated, but suggests that they may not prevent infection from the bacteria that causes whooping cough in those vaccinated or its spread to other people, including those who may not be vaccinated.

“This study is critically important to understanding some of the reasons for the rising rates of pertussis and informing potential strategies to address this public health concern,” said Karen Midthun, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, where the study was conducted. “This research is a valuable contribution and brings us one step closer to understanding the problem. We are optimistic that more research on pertussis will lead to the identification of new and improved methods for preventing the disease.” 

While the reasons for the increase in cases of whooping cough are not fully understood, multiple factors are likely involved, including diminished immunity from childhood pertussis vaccines, improved diagnostic testing and increased reporting. With its own funds plus support from the National Institutes of Health, the FDA conducted the study to explore the possibility that acellular pertussis vaccines, while protecting against disease, might not prevent infection.

“There were 48,000 cases reported last year despite high rates of vaccination,” commented Anthony Fauci, director of the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “This resurgence suggests a need for research into the causes behind the increase in infections and improved ways to prevent the disease from spreading.”

Whooping cough rates in the United States have been increasing since the 1980s and reached a 50-year high in 2012. Whooping cough is a contagious respiratory disease caused by Bordetella pertussis bacteria. Initial symptoms include runny nose, sneezing, and a mild cough, which may seem like a typical cold. Usually, the cough slowly becomes more severe, and eventually the patient may experience bouts of rapid, violent coughing followed by the “whooping” sound that gives the disease its common name, when trying to take a breath.

The study was published Nov. 25 in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

 

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CVS Caremark to acquire Coram infusion business for $2.1B

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Caremark is looking to bolster its specialty pharmacy offerings by acquiring Coram, the specialty infusion services and enteral nutrition business unit of Apria Healthcare Group for approximately $2.1 billion.
 
Coram provides infusion therapies and nutrition services to more than 20,000 patients each month. Coram cares for patients primarily through home infusion as well as a national network of more than 85 locations, including more than 65 ambulatory infusion suites.

"Bringing together CVS Caremark’s unique range of specialty pharmacy services with Coram’s infusion capabilities will expand our competitive offerings in the specialty arena. Infusion will be a valuable component of our broad specialty pharmacy offering going forward. Our comprehensive services will enable us to streamline care management for patients as well as their physicians, leading to better health outcomes while avoiding unnecessary costs,” stated Jon Roberts, president of CVS Caremark Pharmacy Services.

Costs related to infusion of specialty medications may be covered through the medical or pharmacy benefit, depending on the site of care.  CVS Caremark’s approach to specialty pharmacy is to bring the most complete set of services to clients and patients, including new approaches to improve management of specialty pharmacy costs that are covered by the medical benefit as well as specialty pharmacy costs that are covered by the pharmacy benefit.

Infused therapies for the treatment of acute and chronic conditions (such as immune deficiencies, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and nutritional deficiencies) can be administered in many settings — including hospitals, physician’s offices, infusion centers and patients’ homes.  However, costs related to where the drug is administered can vary significantly.  A CVS Caremark analysis demonstrates that providing infusion services in the home or an ambulatory setting are by far the most cost-effective sites of service.

Coram is expected to generate approximately $1.4 billion in revenues during the first twelve months following the close of the deal. 

Including one-time transaction and integration costs, the transaction is expected to have an immaterial impact on CVS Caremark’s overall financial results in 2014.  The transaction is expected to add 3 cents to 5 cents to the company’s adjusted EPS in 2015, the first full year following the close of the deal.  The deal is subject to customary closing conditions, including necessary regulatory approvals, and is expected to close by the end of the first quarter of 2014.

 

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AbbVie campaign focuses on women with HIV

BY Alaric DeArment

NORTH CHICAGO, Ill. – Drug maker AbbVie is launching an international awareness campaign focused on women living with HIV, the drug maker said Tuesday.

World AIDS Day is on Dec. 1, and in advance of the event, the company announced the launch of the campaign, dubbed See Us: Women Take a Stand on HIV. The campaign is being launched in collaboration with an expert steering committee that includes representation from women living with and affected by HIV, the medical community, the International Association of Providers in AIDS Care and the HIV information group NAM/aidsmap.

According to UNAIDS, women are the fastest-growing group within the population of living with HIV around the world and face many challenges that compound the effects of the infection itself, its associated stigmas and the status of women. Problems include lack of access to care, discrimination and violence, as well as unique maternal and emotional health issues, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

 

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