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Vermont woman gains another victory against Wyeth

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON A Vermont musician whose arm had to be amputated after she received an injection of a Wyeth anti-nausea drug, and received a nearly $7 million injury award, won in the Supreme Court Wednesday.

The court upheld the Vermont jury’s verdict, which awarded $6.7 million to guitarist and pianist Diana Levine after she received an IV push of the drug Phenergan (promethazine) that missed and hit her artery and caused her to develop gangrene. Wyeth appealed the decision, arguing that it could not be sued because Phenergan already had approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

The Supreme Court’s decision marks Wyeth’s second major defeat in recent months. In November, the First District Court of Appeals of California ruled that Wyeth could be held liable for injuries resulting from generic versions of its drugs in the case of Conte v. Wyeth, in which a woman taking generic versions of the gastro-esophageal disease drug Reglan (metoclopramide) developed the neurological disorder tardive dyskinesia.

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Sears Optical marks Eye Health Month

BY Jim Frederick

MASON, Ohio Sears Optical kicked off its annual “Family Eye Health Month,” a national campaign to promote optical health and encourage consumers to schedule their next eye exams with their eye care professionals on Tuesday.

The event, which runs through March, also includes special promotions and discounted eyewear.

The campaign embraces the nearly 800 Sears Optical centers located in Sears stores nationwide, and marks the company’s fiftieth year in the optical business. While Sears Optical does not provide exams, in most states there is an independent doctor of optometry located next door who does.

According to recent studies from the Vision Council of America, more than 11 million Americans are living with an uncorrected vision problem. Further, one in four children has a vision problem that goes undetected, such as common eye diseases.

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New bill would exempt pharmacists from accreditation rules for DME

BY Jim Frederick

ALEXANDRIA, Va. In a bipartisan move welcomed by retail pharmacy advocates, U.S. Senators John Tester, D-Mont., and Sam Brownback, R-Kan., have introduced legislation that would eliminate burdensome restrictions on the sale of durable medical equipment by pharmacies.

The two lawmakers are co-sponsors of S. 511, the Access to Durable Medical Equipment Act of 2009. The bill adds pharmacists to a list of 17 medical professionals that are exempted from new accreditation requirements for Medicare Part B durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and supplies.

The National Community Pharmacists Association welcomed the legislation. “Pharmacists keep patients healthy, not only by dispensing much needed medication, but by providing the medical supplies necessary for their patients health. Senators John Tester and Sam Brownback are to be commended for their leadership in introducing S. 511,” said NCPA EVP and CEO Bruce Roberts and president Holly Henry in a joint statement March 4. “This much needed bill demonstrates that these senators are committed to our nations patients and maintaining the ease of services provided by their community pharmacists.”

A companion bill, H.R. 616, was introduced in the U.S. House by Representatives Marion Berry, D-Ark., and Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, in late January, and has drawn 45 co-sponsors.

NCPA asserts that the accreditation fees and implementation costs for the sale of DME are at least $5,000 to $7,000 per pharmacy and reoccur every three years.

“If pharmacists stop participating in the Medicare Part B program, patients will have to travel longer distances to get these supplies, which is especially problematic in rural states like Montana and Kansas where the local pharmacy is often the sole health care provider in a community,” the group noted. “Even worse, patients could turn to using mail order and Internet operations where fraud is more prevalent — which undermines the primary purpose of accreditation.”

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