06Jun

Women with ovarian cancer who take statins to lower their cholesterol have a 40% lower death rate.

“These drugs are appealing as they are widely used, inexpensive, and well tolerated in most patients. The associated reduction in ovarian cancer mortality is promising,” said Dr. Kala Visvanathan, lead researcher of a new study presented last week during the American Association for Cancer Research Virtual Annual Meeting II.

Dr. Visvanathan, professor of epidemiology and oncology at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center in Baltimore, said all statins reduced the risk of dying, with lipophilic statins such as simvastatin and lovastatin, decreasing the likelihood by an average 43%. The most significant reductions occurred in those with high-grade serous carcinoma (40% reduction in mortality) and endometrioid ovarian cancer (50% reduction.)

The findings are the most comprehensive to date and add support to other, smaller studies showing similar improvements in ovarian cancer mortality from statins.

Most recently, a team of researchers at Australia’s QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, analyzed 36 studies of several common medications taken by ovarian cancer patient. They concluded statin use showed the most promise. “Statin use is associated with better ovarian cancer survival,” they wrote in an article this month in Gynecologic Oncology, cautioning that, “Further study, preferably a clinical trial, is required.”

At the AACR meeting, Visvanathan said her team reviewed data on 10,062 ovarian cancer patients from the Finnish national cancer registry. 2,621 used statins, and 80% of those used lipophilic statins.

“Our results provide further evidence in support of the clinical evaluation of lipophilic statins as part of the treatment of ovarian cancer,” Visvanathan said.

Ovarian cancer is a rare cancer type, accounting for only about 1.2% of cancer cases diagnosed in the United States each year. Its five year survival rate is less than 50% because of the difficulty of diagnosing it until it has progressed to an advanced stage.

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Green Key
Jun 6, 2023

Grocery Pharmacies Are Closing As Chains Take Over

As Big Pharma and the entire pharmaceutical sector generally transforms (see our previous articles), so too is the way consumers buy their drugs and fill prescriptions.

For the first time since grocers set-up pharmacies inside their markets, the number of these grocery pharmacies is

declining. The Wall Street Journal says hundreds of regional markets “are closing or selling pharmacy counters, which have been struggling as consumers make fewer trips to fill prescriptions and big drugstore chains tighten their grip on the U.S. market.”

Consolidation has concentrated market share in CVS and Walgreens, which together accounted for more than 40% of all prescription revenue in 2018. Together, the two operate more than 20,000 retail locations. In 2015, CVS acquired 1,672 in store pharmacies from Target. Last year, Walgreens broadened its partnership with the giant Kroger grocery chain spurring speculation it could buy the grocer’s 2,270 in-store pharmacies.

Consumer’s have also changed how they fill prescriptions, switching to mail order and buying in larger quantities, less often.

The Journal explained that smaller grocers don’t have the clout to negotiate higher reimbursement rates from insurers, nor do they have the amenities like nationwide networks and walk-in clinics that the largest chains do. Their pharmacies tend to operate at or below break-even, but served as a customer convenience.

“There is the benefit of having a pharmacy relative to the grocery-sale lift and the convenience factor of having both in the store, but the economics do not work,” Raley’s CEO Keith Knopf told The Journal.

With the closing of these grocery pharmacies comes the loss of jobs. Reporting on the update of the Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook last fall, Drug Channels said jobs for pharmacists is projected to be flat through 2028. But jobs for retail pharmacists will decline by 11,000. Hospitals, outpatient care centers and home healthcare agencies will add pharmacist jobs as will mail order services.

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