PHARMACY

Take Care receives remaining order of seasonal flu vaccination

BY Antoinette Alexander

CONSHOHOCKEN, Pa. Take Care Health Systems, which is owned by Walgreens, stated on Thursday that it has received the remainder of their 2009 seasonal flu vaccine order from manufacturers.

The limited quantity of vaccine is now available to patients on a first-come first-served basis at all 355 Take Care Clinics.

Seasonal flu vaccine is $24.99 for cash paying patients and is often covered by insurance. The clinic operator is encouraging patients to check with their insurance provider for coverage details. To get up­to-date information on vaccine availability, patients should visit www.takecarehealth.com,  or call 1-866-Take-Care (1-866-825-3227).

In addition to seasonal flu vaccine, nurse practitioners and physician assistants at Take Care Clinics can administer the PPV (pneumonia) vaccine to adults who are 65 years of age and older. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the PPV vaccine for this age group, citing secondary bacterial pneumonia as a frequent cause of illness and death during each of the influenza pandemics of the 20th century.

“There continues to be widespread attention on the H1N1 virus, but it is not too late for individuals and families to protect themselves from seasonal flu strains by getting a seasonal flu vaccination,” stated Sandy Ryan, chief nurse practitioner officer for Take Care Health Systems. “Take Care Health professionals began offering seasonal flu vaccine in September this year, one month earlier than normal, and patients have responded, looking to Take Care Clinics as a high-quality, accessible healthcare resource in the communities where they live and work.”

Since beginning this season?s flu shot administration, Take Care Clinics have administered more than 380,000 doses of seasonal flu vaccine. The seasonal flu vaccine helps protect patients against three common strains of the flu virus. It does not offer protection against the 2009 H1N1 flu.

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Congress investigates rising drug prices

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK An article in The New York Times about rising drug prices has sparked an investigation by members of Congress, the newspaper reported Thursday.

Based on calculations by Wall Street analysts, IMS Health and AARP, the Times reported Sunday that while drug makers had promised to lower overall drug prices by $8 billion, wholesale prices of branded drugs had risen by 9%, to $10 billion. This happened despite a concurrent 1.3% contraction of the Consumer Price Index.

Now, Democratic Reps. Charles Rangel of New York, John Lewis of Georgia, Henry Waxman and Pete Stark of California and Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson have asked the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services for “an immediate and thorough investigation into drug industry pricing and recent increases, and the extent to which these increases may affect the Medicare and Medicaid programs,” the Times reported.

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, which represents the drug industry, criticized the Times’ article.

“Unfortunately, today’s New York Times only tells half a story, using selected statistics to make a flawed assumption that an increase in drug prices must somehow be tied to healthcare reform,” PhRMA SVP Ken Johnson said in a statement. “In truth, price increases are the natural result of market forces.”

Johnson said drug companies determined prices independently based on considerations such as patent expirations and research and development costs, noting that many of PhRMA’s member companies have experienced flat or negative revenue growth.

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AstraZeneca seeks approval for Brilinta

BY Alaric DeArment

WILMINGTON, Del. AstraZeneca has submitted an approval application to the Food and Drug Administration for an antiplatelet drug, the Anglo-Swedish drug maker announced Thursday.

The company said the drug, with the proposed brand name Brilinta (ticagrelor), reduces the risk of heart attacks and other cardiac events in patients with acute coronary syndrome.

The submission is based on results of a phase 3 trial comparing Brilinta with Plavix (clopidogrel), made by Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. and Sanofi-Aventis in patients also taking aspirin.

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