GSK to pay $750 million to settle contamination suit
LONDON British drug maker GlaxoSmithKline will pay nearly $1 billion to the U.S. government to settle allegations that it sold contaminated and ineffective products.
The company will plead guilty to criminal charges relating to drugs made at a manufacturing plant in Cidra, Puerto Rico, which it closed in 2009, and pay $750 million. In a whistleblower suit filed by a former employee, it was alleged that the company knowingly sold defective supplies of various drugs, including the baby ointment Bactroban (mupirocin) and the antidepressant Paxil (paroxetine).
“This settlement resolves a significant and long-standing legal issue facing the company,” GSK SVP and head of global litigation P.D. Villarreal said. “We regret that we operated the Cidra facility in a manner that was inconsistent with current Good Manufacturing Practice requirements and with GSK’s commitment to manufacturing quality.”
Washington State University student team wins pharmacy business plan competition
PHILADELPHIA A team from a Pacific Northwest pharmacy school won a business plan competition sponsored by Good Neighbor Pharmacy and the National Community Pharmacists Association, NCPA said Monday.
The four-student team from the Washington State University College of Pharmacy was named the winner of the 2010 Good Neighbor Pharmacy NCPA Pruitt-Schutte Student Business Plan Competition, winning $3,000 for its local NCPA chapter and $3,000 for its school. The colleges of pharmacy at Drake University and Auburn University came in second and third, respectively. The competition included 35 pharmacy schools.
“These students now have a road map that will take all of the guesswork out of pharmacy ownership,” NCPA president Joseph Harmison said. “In any competition, there are always the winners whose efforts rose above everyone else, so I would like to especially congratulate the winner, Washington State University; the runner-up, Drake University; and the third-place finisher, Auburn University, for their truly outstanding plans.”
The NCPA is having its annual convention and trade expo in Philadelphia.
Surescripts launches open platform for docs
NEW ORLEANS Opening another front in its long campaign to extend electronic prescribing and health information technology throughout the United States, e-prescribing platform provider Surescripts said Monday that it will expand its nationwide e-prescribing network to accelerate the digital transformation of the nation’s healthcare system by enabling the electronic exchange of all types of clinical information.
The goal: “to enable U.S. doctors to share all types of health information,” according to the company. Surescripts president and CEO Harry Totonis said that widening its digital communications highway will make it easier for physicians –– along with pharmacies, pharmacy benefit managers, health plans and health information exchanges –– to send and receive protected clinical data on patients.
The new, more open e-link platform is a move “beyond e-prescribing,” Surescripts asserted. The system, the company noted, will provide its network participants and electronic health record partners with new secure messaging tools through an investment by the company in Kryptiq, a technology firm specializing in data encryption. “The move is further supported by two years’ worth of technology pilot work at MinuteClinic, the pioneer and largest provider of retail medical clinics in the United States,” Surescripts announced.
“It’s a new day for Surescripts and a new day for the nation’s healthcare system,” Totonis proclaimed. “We are proud to support the federal government’s efforts to encourage doctors to use electronic health record systems to improve quality and safety, and to reduce the cost of care.”
To launch the new open network, Surescripts said it will extend its existing collaboration with EHR vendors and all network participants to speed the movement of clinical information “when and … where it is needed by a patient’s healthcare providers, be they a physician, nurse practitioner, physician assistant or pharmacist,” said a company spokesman. “The Surescripts network will remain complementary to current EHR, [health information exchange] and health system networks by allowing them to connect to a national backbone that, in turn, can connect them with any other network.”
“The services will be new, but the approach will not," Totonis explained. "Surescripts will adhere to the same set of principles that propelled e-prescribing adoption in the United States to 200,000 physicians in less than a decade: privacy, security, neutrality, physician and patient choice, transparency, collaboration and quality. We will continue to work with and enable our EHR partners.”
Totonis said the newly expanded network will be “open and neutral,” and “complementary to other healthcare networks and to local exchanges.” Surescripts, he added, will provide tools to electronic health record systems and all network participants to access the new services.