PHARMACY

ACRO specialty pharmacy symposium addresses market growth, health reform

BY Alaric DeArment

PHILADELPHIA — The specialty pharmacy market is set to reach $90 billion this year, so it’s clear that managed care organizations have a lot at stake.

That was the overarching theme at a symposium organized by specialty pharmacy provider ACRO Pharmaceutical Services, in conjunction with Armada Health Care, last Thursday at the Hyatt Regency at Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia.

The symposium included presentations by Russel Allinson, CEO and chief clinical officer of specialty pharmacy consulting and analytics company Therigy; and Mesfin Tegenu, president of pharmacy benefit manager PerformRx; as well as a keynote speech by Eric Elliott, president and CEO of PBM Prime Therapeutics; and a panel discussion about various specialty pharmacy and payer issues featuring executives from several payer organizations.

Elliott’s speech focused on healthcare reform and the healthcare environment that will take shape as a result of it. Specifically, Elliott suggested that PBMs and insurers should look at what kind of market will exist after the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act takes full effect rather than focusing on how to implement reform.

“The thing about healthcare reform is that it’s not yet completely clear what it is,” Elliott said, saying that increased access would be the most visible outcome. The Congressional Budget Office projected that 22 million Americans will be uninsured by 2019 under the healthcare-reform bill, compared with 54 million had the bill failed.

Despite increased access, drug companies will make less money as a result of the bill’s creation of a regulatory approval pathway for biosimilars. “Healthcare reform and the clear pathway created where one didn’t exist before will have a negative impact on brand revenues,” Elliott said.

Following Elliott’s speech, a panel of payer organization executives participated in a question-and-answer session on such issues as specialty drugs and strategies after healthcare reform, limited distribution drugs, health plan-preferred or exclusive specialty pharmacy networks, REMS and biosimilars.

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Amgen: Nplate may help patients with autoimmune bleeding disorder

BY Alaric DeArment

ORLANDO, Fla. — A drug made by Amgen maintained blood platelet counts in patients with an autoimmune bleeding disorder, according to results of a five-year study released Sunday.

Amgen announced results of its study of Nplate (romiplostim) in adults with chronic immune thrombocytopenic purpura, in which the body’s own immune system destroys platelets, necessary for clotting of the blood. Results of the study, which showed that 95% of the 292 patients receiving the drug maintained platelet counts, were presented at the annual meeting and exposition of the American Society of Hematology.

“In this study, nearly all Nplate-treated patients were able to maintain platelet counts within the target range for more than five years,” said David Kuter, lead study investigator and chief of hematology at Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital.

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Ian Read to replace Jeffrey Kindler as Pfizer’s CEO

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — Pfizer president and CEO Jeffrey Kindler has retired from the company, the drug maker said Sunday. Ian Read, who currently heads Pfizer’s global biopharmaceutical operations and has worked for the company since 1978, will succeed him.

Kindler cited personal reasons for retiring, saying his around-the-clock work schedule had been “extremely demanding” on him personally, and that he would take time to spend with his family before making his next moves.

“My nearly nine years at Pfizer and, particularly the last four and a half as CEO, have been extremely exciting and rewarding,” Kindler said in a statement. “I feel our team can proudly boast of some transformational accomplishments.”

Kindler oversaw Pfizer’s transformation from a large pharmaceutical company into a highly diversified manufacturer of products ranging from pharmaceuticals for relatively common conditions to biotech drugs and over-the-counter medications, particularly through the company’s acquisition last year of Wyeth.

“In 2006, Jeff Kindler took on the challenge of transforming Pfizer in the face of enormous changes in the global healthcare marketplace and significant patent expirations of major products, including Lipitor,” Pfizer board lead independent director Constance Horner said. “Acting with the highest level of ethics and professionalism, he moved aggressively to drive change at the company, including putting new, more focused and agile business units in place, building and enhancing world-class compliance systems, recruiting talented new leaders and refocusing and streamlining operations in every part of the world.”

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