PHARMACY

UMD School of Pharmacy dean chosen for Leadership Maryland Class of 2009

BY Alaric DeArment

BALTIMORE An educational organization for top-level executives in the public and private sectors in Maryland has selected the dean of the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy for its eight-month program.

Leadership Maryland announced Wednesday that it selected professor and dean Natalie Eddington for the Leadership Maryland Class of 2009. Eddington is among the 46 other leaders who will participate in the program. 

The program involves a two-day opening retreat in April, followed by five two-day and one one-day sessions focused on issues such as health and human services, economic development and education with more than 100 guest speakers and panelists drawn from business, the government, education and non-profit organizations. 

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PHARMACY

Seeking to enlist patients as advocates, NCPA launches online grassroots effort

BY Jim Frederick

ALEXANDRIA, Va. The nation’s top independent pharmacy organization has unveiled a plan to recruit patients themselves in a broad campaign to influence policy in Washington on behalf of community pharmacists.

The new initiative, dubbed Fight4Rx.org, is aimed to “recruiting and transforming patients into grassroots activists for community pharmacies,” noted the National Community Pharmacists Association, “by educating them on the vital role pharmacists play and the serious challenges they face in the delivery of health care.”

Fight4Rx patients will sign up through their local community pharmacies, some 1,000 of which have already begun recruiting patients, according to NCPA. The group has set an initial goal of enlisting 50,000 Fight4Rx patients by the end of 2009. That goal is “well within reach,” NCPA predicts. 

“America’s patients and their families greatly value their community pharmacists and the personalized services they provide,” said Bruce Roberts, EVP and CEO of the independent pharmacy organization. “Fight4Rx patients will have a new forum during the health care reform debate in Washington, DC. They will be able to research issues and speak directly to their legislators about key concerns affecting their access to prescription medication and services by their local community pharmacies.” 

Fight4Rx includes issue briefs on pharmacy patient issues, Medicare and healthcare news updates, and a video blog on the home page, www.Fight4Rx.org, with regular updates from pharmacy industry experts. Patients will receive a monthly e-mail newsletter that will update them on key pharmacy issues and breaking news. When necessary, Fight4Rx will encourage patients to contact their elected officials via a 1-800 number or e-mail. 

NCPA president Holly Henry said patients could become a highly effective ally in community pharmacy’s struggle for greater recognition and a level health care playing field. “I believe the Fight4Rx online community will lead us to fair and common-sense health care policies in the United States by empowering patients to let their voices be heard in establishing the pharmacy home of their choice,” said Henry, a Seattle-based pharmacy owner-operator.

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Merck & Co. reports gain for 4Q

BY Drug Store News Team

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. Merck & Co. said Tuesday announced it had a successful fourth-quarter profit, despite several setbacks over the past year.

The maker of vaccines, cholesterol drugs and asthma treatment Singulair reported a profit of $1.64 billion, or 78 cents per share. A year ago, Merck posted a loss of $1.63 billion, or 75 cents per share, after the company faced approximately 50,000 mainly product liability suits involving its withdrawn painkiller Vioxx.

Lower fourth-quarter costs for materials and production, and for restructuring, down to $103.1 million from $156.2 million in 2007, helped boost the bottom line.

Additional restructuring is anticipated for this year, as the pharmaceutical giant is expected to lay off about 5,300 more workers. Since December 2005, Merck has slimmed down by 10 percent, from 61,500 employees then to 55,200 at the end of 2008.

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