PHARMACY

Walgreens taps clinician for new medical post

BY Jim Frederick

DEERFIELD, Ill. Signaling its expanding role in the broader healthcare arena, Walgreens on Tuesday named Cheryl Pegus, a physician and clinical practice veteran, to the new position of chief medical officer.

Pegus, 46, will serve as the senior medical executive for Walgreens and report to Hal Rosenbluth, SVP and president of the company’s health and wellness division. Her focus, according to Walgreens, will be on “driving clinical outcomes that improve patient lives, provide value and offer a platform for future innovation and growth.”

The creation of a new medical post underscores Walgreens’ determination to serve as a full-service solution for the health coverage needs of employers and other health-plan payers. It’s also a sign of the increasing integration of the healthcare model being pursued by Walgreens and other such pharmacy innovators as CVS Caremark, Kerr Drug and other chains.

“We’re very excited to appoint Cheryl to lead Walgreens’ effort in clinical outcomes,” said Rosenbluth. “Her depth of experience in analytics and research, clinical product development and chronic-care management will help position Walgreens to deliver high quality, accessible and low-cost innovative care solutions to payors, employers and consumers.

“That includes the potential for new diagnostic screenings and other point-of-care services at pharmacies, retail clinics and worksite health centers that can develop an ongoing relationship between patients and Walgreens,” he added.

Pegus has more than 18 years of clinical practice and industry experience. Her last post was as general manager and chief medical officer for SymCare Personalized Health Solutions, which provides care management services utilizing remote monitoring. SymCare’s model is “designed to control health care spending by making consumer engagement simpler and more rewarding,” according to Walgreens.

Prior to joining SymCare in 2007, Pegus was head of clinical products for Aetna’s Medical Products business unit, responsible for developing, prioritizing and articulating the company’s clinical product strategy. Between 1996 and 2001, she was medical director for the Cardiovascular Risk Factors Group at Pfizer Pharmaceuticals in New York. She is a member of the board of directors of the Founder’s Affiliate of the American Heart Association, the dean’s circle at Weill Cornell Medical College and the editorial advisory board of Disease Management Advisor.

Pegus is a board-certified physician with subspecialty training in cardiology. She received an M.P.H. from Columbia University School of Public Health, an M.D. from Cornell University Medical College and completed her internal medicine residency and cardiology fellowship at New York Hospital-Cornell.

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PHARMACY

NACDS names Guckian state affairs chief

BY Jim Frederick

ALEXANDRIA, Va. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores has named Sandra Kay Guckian, a pharmacy and policy veteran of the organization, as VP state government affairs.

Guckian, nee Sandra Jung, will oversee the work of five state government affairs directors based in regions throughout the U.S., as well as an administrative assistant based at NACDS headquarters. She reports directly to Carol Kelly, NACDS’ SVP government affairs and public policy.

In addition to leading the state government affairs team, Guckian manages state-level legislative and regulatory advocacy in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

Guckian replaces Gary Wirth, who has left the association to pursue other interests, according to NACDS spokesperson Chrissy Kopple. The appointment is effective immediately.

Guckian is one of the longest-serving members of NACDS’ management team, and last served as VP and deputy director of state government affairs. NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson called her promotion “the latest step in the transformation of NACDS to maximize its strategic focus and effectiveness.

“In her 13 years at NACDS, Sandra has established a reputation as a member-focused, highly substantive and strategically oriented leader who is absolutely passionate about pharmacy,” said Anderson. “Sandra is well equipped to work collaboratively with NACDS member company representatives, with state association partners, and with her dedicated colleagues on the state government affairs team and throughout NACDS to help advance pharmacy at all levels of government for the ultimate benefit of patient care.”

Guckian earned her B.S. in Pharmacy and M.S. in Pharmacy from The University of Texas at Austin College of Pharmacy, and completed an accredited residency at Parkland Memorial Hospital.  She has practiced as a pharmacist in a variety of settings including community retail pharmacy, hospital pharmacy and home health care practice.

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FDA: Certain prostate cancer drugs may cause other health problems

BY Alaric DeArment

SILVER SPRING, Md. The Food and Drug Administration is investigating a possible link between drugs commonly used to treat prostate cancer and a risk of serious health problems, the agency said Monday.

The FDA said it was conducting a safety review of gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists, saying they have been associated with a “small increased risk” for diabetes, heart attack, stroke and sudden death. The agency is suggesting that healthcare professionals monitor men using the drugs, but that patients should not stop using them unless directed to do so. It also cautioned that it had not made any conclusions about whether the drugs cause an increase in the risk of developing heart disease and diabetes.

GnRH agonists include such branded drugs as Abbott’s Lupron (leuprolide acetate), Watson’s Trelstar (triptorelin pamoate) and several generic drugs.

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