PHARMACY

Walgreens launches high-impact push in support of World AIDS Day campaign

BY Jim Frederick

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens is making a high-impact health statement to mark World AIDS Day that will be hard to ignore.

On Wednesday, Dec. 1, the nation’s top pharmacy chain will kick off a new collaboration with Greater Than AIDS, a health advocacy group, by streaming HIV messaging on the Walgreens digital board that rises 341 feet above midtown Manhattan in New York’s Times Square. In addition, more than 200 Walgreens drug stores in heavily affected communities across America are debuting new signage and informational materials that carry a Greater Than AIDS message.

The moves come as part of what the company says is “an increased commitment to HIV/AIDS outreach, education and accessibility.” Walgreens has enlisted its pharmacists in the campaign.

“Pharmacists are some of the most trusted healthcare professionals in the nation,” said Walgreens president of pharmacy services Kermit Crawford. “It’s our job to not only provide information about medication options but to also listen to patient needs.”

To that end, said Crawford, “Our pharmacy staff will help play a large role in our effort with Greater Than AIDS to promote HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention, especially among African-Americans and other disproportionately affected groups.”

More than 800 Walgreens pharmacists at retail and medical facility locations across the country and call centers are specially trained to help patients living with HIV/AIDS, according to the chain. Over the next year, Walgreens said it would add another 150 locations that offer special HIV/AIDS services. Online, the pharmacy and health retailer is offering additional HIV/AIDS information regarding treatment, medications and support services at HIV.walgreens.com.

Another website, Greaterthan.org/walgreens, provides information about HIV and Greater Than AIDS, which is a national movement that brings together the public and private sectors in response to the U.S. HIV/AIDS crisis.

“What is particularly powerful about the partnership between Greater Than AIDS and Walgreens is that it brings HIV information to people where they live, along with other health issues,” said Drew Altman, Ph.D., president and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation, which provides direction to Greater Than AIDS. “Walgreens is setting a powerful example of corporate leadership by putting its brand and vast retail footprint behind an issue of such public health importance.”

In June 2011, Walgreens will team up with Greater Than AIDS to support “HIV Take Action” Month with special promotions, and participating Walgreens pharmacies will offer in-store services, including HIV testing. And throughout the year, Walgreens digital billboards in Times Square and Las Vegas will post photos submitted by Americans that celebrate personal “deciding moments” in response to HIV/AIDS, the company revealed Tuesday.

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PHARMACY

Perrigo, Synthon to launch generic Xyzal

BY Allison Cerra

ALLEGAN, Mich. — The Food and Drug Administration has granted market exclusivity for a generic version of a medication designed to treat indoor and outdoor allergies.

Perrigo said Monday that its licensor and supplier Synthon received regulatory approval for levocetirizine tablets, a generic version of UCB/Sepracor’s Xyzal, which is marketed in the United States by Sanofi-Aventis.

The levocetirizine tablet is the only approved generic product having a label containing all indications, Perrigo said.

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Merck’s president steps in as new CEO

BY Allison Cerra

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. — The president of drug maker Merck now will fill an additional position at the company: CEO.

Merck’s board of directors elected president and board member Kenneth Frazier as the company’s next leader, effective Jan. 1. Frazier will succeed Richard Clark, who has served as Merck’s CEO since 2005. Clark will continue as chairman of the board, the drug maker said.

Frazier’s career at Merck spans 18 years. Since becoming president, he has focused on improving the effectiveness of the company’s three largest divisions –– pharmaceutical and vaccine sales and marketing, research and development, manufacturing and supply –– and their post-merger integration, the drug maker said. Merck merged with Schering-Plough in a $41.1 billion deal in 2009.

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