PHARMACY

At the front lines of healthcare concerns: Medication adherence

BY Alaric DeArment

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT Though Drug Store News is a leader among trade publications for the retail pharmacy industry, its readership remains small compared with the consumer magazines one typically finds on a store shelf, thus keeping its wealth of news and analysis confined to a limited audience. But the publication of an article in The New York Times brings to nationwide attention an issue of critical importance that frequently receives play in this magazine’s pages: medication adherence.

(THE NEWS: NY Times cites Rx adherence incentives. For the full story, click here)

According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in April, avoidable hospitalizations related to medication adherence cost more than $100 billion each year, and according to the New England Healthcare Institute, $290 billion in total annual costs — 13% of all healthcare expenditures — are related to poor medication adherence.

The article’s appearance in the Times means that millions of people in the United States, not to mention the Times’ considerable international readership, will see improved medication adherence presented as a crucial component of healthcare reform, considering the huge costs of nonadherence. Whatever means physicians, payers or retailers may use to persuade patients to take their drugs as prescribed, their efforts now have the added credibility of one of the most well-known and trusted sources of news in the world.

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FDA approves Jevtana

BY Alaric DeArment

SILVER SPRING, Md. The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new treatment for advanced prostate cancer, the agency said Thursday.

The FDA announced the approval of Sanofi-Aventis’ Jevtana (cabazitaxel), a chemotherapy drug used with the steroid prednisone. The agency said the drug was the first treatment for advanced, hormone-refractory prostate cancer that has worsened during or after treatment with docetaxel, also a chemotherapy drug used in advanced prostate cancer. Hormone refractory prostate cancer happens when prostate tumors continue to grow despite treatments meant to reduce the body’s production of the male hormone testosterone, which helps prostate tumors grow.

“Patients have few therapeutic options in this disease setting,” FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research Office of Oncology Products director Richard Pazdur said. “FDA was able to review and approve the application for Jevtana in 11 weeks, expediting the availability of this drug to men with prostate cancer.”

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Report: Oregon State Board of Pharmacy declares marijuana as drug with medical use

BY Alaric DeArment

SALEM, Ore. The makers of the 1930s documentary “Reefer Madness” would be furious at the news, but it likely will come as a relief to people with certain diseases and marijuana law-reform advocates.

The Oregon State Board of Pharmacy voted Wednesday to have marijuana classified as a drug with medical use, according to reports from a local TV station. The decision makes the state to reclassify it as such.

Under the decision, marijuana will be known as a Schedule II controlled substance, meaning that it has high potential for abuse but still has medical benefits. Previously — and still in all other states — marijuana was a Schedule I drug, meaning it had no medical benefits.

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