PHARMACY

Walgreens boosts patient access to data via partnership with Microsoft HealthVault

BY Jim Frederick

DEERFIELD, Ill. Walgreens and Microsoft are joining forces to create an expanded online portal through which patients can access and share their personal prescription history.

That access will be provided by Microsoft HealthVault, a Web-based platform that allows its users to gather, store and share their health information. In addition to prescription information, patients can use HealthVault to store copies of their health records obtained from their other providers’ insurance plans, government or employers. They can also upload information from health and fitness devices; and share information with health care providers and trainers, Walgreens announced Wednesday.

Registered Walgreens.com users are already able to access their prescription histories for refills, tax purposes or personal use. Patients who enroll in the new service will be able to securely add their Walgreens prescription history to HealthVault, and the information will be automatically updated daily, according to the retail pharmacy and software giants.

“Connecting Walgreens.com with HealthVault will offer patients a simple way to track their medications and share that vital information with health care providers, who can help patients get the most benefit from their drug therapy,” noted Walgreens spokesman Robert Elfinger in a statement. “Patients who enroll in this new service will be able to securely add their Walgreens prescription history to HealthVault, and the information will be automatically updated daily.

“Users will then be able to share their most up-to- date health information with their providers,” he added.

Don Huonker, Walgreens’ SVP health care innovation, said the new service “will make it easier for patients to share their information with multiple health care providers and even their caretakers, who can also be granted access to a patient’s account with their permission.

“While many patients are already using Walgreens online pharmacy to access their prescription history, they don’t always provide that information to their doctors,” he added.

HealthVault will also allow parents to track their children’s medical history as well as older relatives whom they may be caring for.

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PHARMACY

Par ships first generic version of J&J drug

BY Alaric DeArment

WOODCLIFF LAKE, N.J. Par Pharmaceutical Cos. has begun shipping its generic version of a drug used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

The company announced Tuesday the shipment of risperidone ODT in the 0.25-mg, 3-mg and 4-mg strengths. The drug is used in adults as a stand-alone treatment for schizophrenia and as a combination, with lithium or valproate, for the treatment of manic and mixed episodes in bipolar I disorder.

The drug is a generic version of Johnson & Johnson’s Risperdal M-TAB, which had sales of $89 million last year, according to IMS Health data. As the first company to file an approval application with a paragraph IV certification, Par has six months of market exclusivity, though J&J retains exclusivity for the use of the drug in children.

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FDA creates transparency taskforce

BY Alaric DeArment

ROCKVILLE, Md. After years of criticism, the Food and Drug Administration wants to take the tinting off its windows.

The agency announced Tuesday the creation of an internal transparency taskforce, headed by principal deputy commissioner Joshua Sharfstein, to find ways to make its decision making more transparent for the public while protecting confidentiality.

“Over the years, there have been complaints made about the FDA’s lack of transparency,” commissioner Margaret Hamburg said in a conference call with reporters Tuesday morning.

Hamburg said the taskforce would take comments from the public and stakeholders to find ways to make information about agency operations, recall information, enforcement and other activities more accessible. The agency will convene a public meeting on June 24 and another one in the fall and accept public comment through a docket until Aug. 7.

“The recommendations of the taskforce will allow us to more effectively implement the agency’s public health mission,” Hamburg said.

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