PHARMACY

AHRQ to aid Medicaid, SCHIP with information technology

BY Drew Buono

ROCKVILLE, Md. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality is preparing a program to aid Medicaid agencies and State Children’s Health Insurance Programs in adopting information technology and joining health information exchanges.

“These populations have much to gain from the coordination of care that can be realized from the adoption of health information technology and health information exchange,” the agency stated in a notice published Feb. 20 in the Federal Register. “Furthermore, as the largest health care purchaser in the U.S., Medicaid can influence the adoption of health I.T. and HIE by providers of care.”

Under the proposal, AHRQ will conduct a detailed needs assessment survey with Medicaid and SCHIP programs. The information will be used to develop technical assistance workshops, Web seminars, printed technical materials and other tools to assist the state programs in adopting I.T.

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Costco program delivers deep discounts to uninsured

BY Doug Desjardins

ISSAQUAH, Wash. Costco is enrolling up to 5,000 new members per week to its Costco Member Prescription Program that gives uninsured members deep discounts on hundreds of different prescription drugs.

The program launched at pharmacies last July and is now available in every state in the U.S. where Costco does business. “It’s kind of a unique program for our members who don’t have insurance,” said Costco VP of pharmacy Vic Curtis. “We work with our manufacturers and are able to offer members a discount through savings passed on either from the manufacturer or, in Costco’s case, from within our own margins.”

To qualify for the program, people need to be current Costco members and fill out a registration form confirming they don’t insurance.  To deliver the extra savings, Costco works with manufacturers to create a Preferred Drug List of branded and generic drugs that can be provided with a discount.

When filling a prescription for a program member, pharmacists check the list to see if the prescription is on it or search for a similar drug that serves the same need for less expense. “Our pharmacists have members check with their physicians to make sure a drug on the preferred list will work for them,” said Curtis.

Typical monthly savings on a 30-day supply of drugs is $15 but the savings vary. Curtis said the best example is a 30-day supply of Prevacid, which is available to program members for $101.17 at a cost savings of $49.58. On the lower end, members can save $7 on a one-month supply of Lunesta.

Curtis said Costco currently has 61,000 members in the program and hopes to enroll many more in the coming months. “Our goal is to eventually have 250,000 to 300,000 members enrolled in the program,” said Curtis.

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NextGen, Warburg look to partner on cancer drugs

BY Drew Buono

LONDON NextGen Bioscience and Warburg Glycomed are negotiating a deal to collaborate. Both are biotech companies focused on developing new drugs to fight various types of cancer.

Warburg Glycomed has a compound that is able to reprogram cancer cells by modulating their aerobic glucose metabolism, which affects their ability to grow. Warburg Glycomed has expressed keen interest in collaborating with NextGen in a recently signed letter of intent, and is confident that a deal can be arranged.

“These collaboration discussions with Warburg Glycomed represent progress on fulfilling our business goal to form international collaboration agreements with specialty research organizations,: Konstantinos Kardiasmenos, chief executive officer of NextGen, stated. “An alliance with Warburg Glycomed would strengthen both companies’ position to capture the phenomenal global market for therapeutic cancer agents, which is now reaching a volume of approximately $30 billion.”

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