PHARMACY

Va. pharmacy students visit state legislators

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — An annual event at the Virginia state General Assembly drew several students from a local pharmacy school.

Hampton University said 24 of its students visited the General Assembly in Richmond, Va., on Jan. 30 to participate in Virginia Pharmacy Day, organized every year by the Virginia Pharmacist Association. 

The event combined a health fair — with cholesterol, diabetes and blood pressure screenings — and legislative visits with state representatives to discuss pharmacy-related issues.

Members of the school’s National Community Pharmacists Association chapter developed informaitonal brochures on diabetes, high cholesterol and blood pressure to disseminate to state legislators.

"Meeting with the legislators and sitting in on the House and Senate sessions allows them an opportunity to voice their concerns and hopefully assist in the passage or denial of laws that impact the profession, and the provision of care to the patients we serve," Hampton University pharmacy professor Ebony Andrews said. "I want them to see that they have the power to make a difference if they take the time to get involved."

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FDA approves Warner Chilcott ulcerative colitis drug

BY Alaric DeArment

DUBLIN — The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new drug from Warner Chilcott for treating ulcerative colitis, the drug maker said.

Warner Chilcott announced the approval of mesalamine in the 400-mg strength.

The company plans to market the drug under the brand name Delzicol and launch it in March.

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Reports: Amgen plans six biosimilars

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — Biotech drug maker Amgen plans to launch six biosimilar drugs starting in 2017, according to published reports.

Reuters reported that Amgen CEO Robert Bradway announced plans at a meeting with analysts and investors that the company would launch six biosimilars, including versions of Roche cancer drugs Avastin (bevacizumab), Herceptin (trastuzumab) and Rituxan (rituximab), and Eli Lilly’s cancer treatment Erbitux (cetuximab). It would also launch biosimilars of AbbVie’s autoimmune disorder treatments Humira (adalimumab) and Remicade (infliximab).

The six drugs represent combined sales of more than $40 billion, Reuters quoted an analyst as saying.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act mandated a regulatory approval pathway for biosimilars, though the Food and Drug Administration is still working on creating regulations to govern them. Currently, a company seeking approval for a follow-on version of an off-patent biotech drug must undergo the FDA’s standard approval process for new drugs.

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