PHARMACY

Tropical Storm Hanna raises concerns as Rx supply chain coalition responds

BY Jim Frederick

WASHINGTON Fast on the heels of Hurricane Gustav, Tropical Storm Hanna is the latest potential natural disaster to draw scrutiny from a coalition of retail pharmacy groups, pharmaceutical manufacturers and other health care groups.

The coalition, Rx Response, was set up by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the National Community Pharmacists Association, the Healthcare Distribution Management Association, the American Red Cross and other groups to help ensure the continued flow of medicine to patients in a severe public health emergency. In a statement, Rx Response said its members are closely monitoring Hanna, which is expected to regain hurricane status as it approaches the U.S. on Thursday.

To help residents in states potentially impacted by Hanna, Rx Response leaders are urging individuals to go to www.RxResponse.org to review preparation tips and to fill out a printable, wallet-size medication card. The medication card includes information about current medications, medical conditions and contact information for doctors, pharmacists and emergency contacts.

Through its members, including physicians and pharmacists, the coalition is also trying to alert consumers to take an adequate supply of medications during evacuations.

Rx Response is designed to be “a single point of contact for the entire pharmaceutical supply system and relies on a robust network that allows federal and state emergency management officials to communicate with Rx Response regarding pharmaceutical needs and other issues which may impact the supply system,” noted the group. “The communications are actively monitored by all segments of the pharmaceutical supply system to ensure the fastest possible resolution.”

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PHARMACY

Rx Response mobilizes to respond to Hurricane Gustav

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON With Hurricane Gustav barely missing New Orleans, several retail pharmacy, pharmaceutical and medical industry organizations have mobilized to respond.

Rx Response’s purpose is to provide a single point of contact between emergency management officials and the pharmaceutical supply system. It uses a network that allows the officials to communicate with it concerning issues that might affect the supply system, such as pharmaceutical needs. For example, public health officials in Louisiana and Alabama have asked it for a list of pharmacies that closed when Gustav made landfall so that they could direct patients to operating pharmacies.

The organization began almost two years ago in response to Hurricane Katrina and the threat of pandemic influenza. Its members include the American Hospital Association, the American Red Cross, the Biotechnology Industry Organization, the Generic Pharmaceutical Association, the Healthcare Distribution Management Association, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the National Community Pharmacists Association and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.

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Old anti-itching drug may become new hepatitis treatment

BY Alaric DeArment

STANFORD, Calif. Researchers at Stanford University have found a possible new way to combat hepatitis C, according to a report published online in the Aug. 31 issue of Nature Biotechnology.

The researchers found that clemizole hydrochloride, an anti-itching drug, hindered a protein in the hepatitis C virus called NS4B, which is crucial to the virus’ replication without harming cells similar to those found in the liver, which the virus targets.

“We’re excited about this, and we’re actively moving forward toward clinical trials,” said Dr. Jeffrey Glenn, an associate professor of gastroenterology and hepatology at Stanford.

Glenn said that if it proves effective in human trials, clemizole could become an essential component in a new class of multi-drug treatments for hepatitis C.

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