PHARMACY

Warning of liver damage issued for Prezista

BY Drew Buono

WASHINGTON Tibotec Therapeutics, a unit of Johnson & Johnson, and the Food and Drug Administration warned of liver damage and some deaths in patients who were treated with the HIV drug Prezista. The drug, which is prescribed in combination with Abbott’s Norvir, is used to block HIV replication.

The company has been receiving reports of liver damage and deaths since the drug was approved in June 2006. Tibotec also announced reports of 15 cases of drug-induced hepatitis among patients in clinical trials.

The letter on the FDA’s Web site noted that the liver-injury reports have generally occurred in patients with advanced HIV disease who were also on several other medications, as well as those who had chronic active hepatitis B or C, which puts people at higher risk for liver injury. The letter also said a causal relationship between the liver injuries and Prezista treatment had not been established.

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PHARMACY

NACDS Foundation, eHealth Initiative to host health technology conference

BY Jim Frederick

ALEXANDRIA, Va. Scrambling to keep its members abreast of rapid changes in health information technology and electronic communications, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Foundation will co-host a two-day conference in June on the advances transforming health care.

The NACDS Foundation is collaborating with eHealth Initiative, a Washington-based nonprofit organization specializing in quality and health information technology, to sponsor the event. Titled “HIT, EMR, PHR- Transforming Patient Care,” the conference is set for June 11 to 12 at the Sheraton Crystal City in Arlington, Va.

Among the topics the meeting will address are the use of technology in electronic prescribing, medication therapy management, patient education programs, comprehensive medication review and other initiatives to manage data and improve patient health.

“Advances in health information technology, new electronic prescribing regulations and increased adoption of electronic medical records are changing the landscape of pharmacy provided patient services,” said foundation president Phil Schneider. “As other sectors of the healthcare system adopt health information technology practices, the opportunity is tremendous for community pharmacy to play an integral role in new ways to provide patient care.”  

Janet Marchibroda, chief executive officer of eHealth Initiative, said the event would focus on “highlighting significant progress made—across a variety of sectors of health care, including pharmacies—in using health information technology to transform patient care.” The conference, she continued,  “will offer practical guidance and best practices for using health IT to improve the quality, safety and effectiveness of health care in the United States.”

Registration information can be found at www.nacdsfoundation.org.

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Medical Marts clinics lose funding, are forced to close

BY Antoinette Alexander

LAS VEGAS Medical Marts, an operator of physician-staffed clinics located in select Meijer, Sears/Kmart and ShopKo stores, has closed its doors.

Ken Richmond, who had served as vice president and chief medical officer of Medical Marts, told Drug Store News that the venture capitalists backing the operation changed their mind for reasons that are unclear and decided to move in another direction.

When it closed, the company had operated 13 clinics in Utah, Illinois and Virginia. The physician-staffed clinics were within retailers ShopKo, Meijer and Sears/Kmart. It staffed about 75 employees, of which more than 20 were physicians.

Medical Mart, which opened its first clinic in Salt Lake City in November 2006, had planned to open up to 100 more clinics in 2008.

Dismayed over the company’s decision to close, Richmond said he believes the concept “is a winner” that addresses many of the problems in mainstream healthcare, especially access to healthcare.

“This is the first way in which physicians were truly community based,” said Richmond. “Rather than physicians saying to the public you come to us, we came to the public and made ourselves available at their convenience.”

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