PHARMACY

AmerisourceBergen fares well in Q4, FY2010

BY Allison Cerra

VALLEY FORGE, Pa. Earnings per share for AmerisourceBergen rose nearly 14% during the fourth quarter ended Sept. 30, thanks to key growth in two sectors, the pharmaceutical services company said.

Diluted earnings per share were 50 cents for the quarter, a 13.6% increase compared with the year-ago period. Revenue also increased to a record $19.7 billion, a 5.3% gain for the company.

AmerisourceBergen also disclosed its fiscal-year results, noting that revenue for 2010 was up to $78 billion, or 8.6%. Diluted earnings per share from continuing operations totaled $2.22 — which included a net after tax benefit of $15.5 million from litigation gains — a 31.4% increase.

The company attributed its gains to key growth in two sectors: generic pharmaceuticals and specialty distribution and services.

"Even without generic introductions, our extraordinary results this year would  have been solid, demonstrating the power of our business model. This is the fifth consecutive year we have expanded our pharmaceutical distribution operating margin, reflecting our operating leverage, cost control initiatives, and attractive customer and product mix. We continue to generate excellent cash flow, and our balance sheet remains strong. We have great financial flexibility," said David Yost, AmerisourceBergen’s president and CEO.

AmerisourceBergen also raised its outlook for fiscal 2011 with a diluted earnings per share range of $2.31 to $2.41, a 7% to 12%  increase over a base of $2.16.

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PHARMACY

Medco achieves 10.7% profit growth in Q3

BY Alaric DeArment

FRANKLIN LAKES, N.J. Pharmacy benefit manager Medco Health Solutions had sales of $16.3 billion, including $2.9 billion from specialty pharmacy operations, the company said Tuesday.

 

The sales resulted in a profit of $371.5 million, a 10.7% increase over third quarter 2009. Cash flows for the first three quarters of the year were $1.37 billion, a decrease of $1.18 billion compared with last year — the decrease resulting from reductions in inventory. The company expects cash flows for the year as a whole to total $2.4 billion. Earnings per share were 85 cents, which the company called record-breaking for third quarter.

 

Mail-order prescriptions were 27.3 million, a 7.1% increase over last year, with generic volumes increasing by 15.5%, to 17.1 million. The generic dispensing rate was 71.6%, a 3.9% increase over the same period last year.

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NACDS weighs in on FDA priorities, urging simpler med info for patients

BY Jim Frederick

ALEXANDRIA, Va. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores is urging federal health officials to adopt a simpler means of communicating drug safety and efficacy information to patients, and to clear the way for an approval pathway for generic versions of biologically engineered drugs.

 

NACDS made its priorities known in a letter Monday to Margaret Hamburg, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. The letter came from Kevin Nicholson, the group’s VP government affairs and public policy.

 

NACDS, he told Hamburg, strongly endorses FDA efforts to adopt a simpler, single medication information document for patients in order to provide clear, easy-to-understand instructions and warnings about possible side effects, etc., of their prescription medicines. Such a document, Nicholson asserted, provides the “final link in the prescription supply chain,” and should be “standardized with respect to format and content.”

Behind that priority: the need to eliminate confusion and improve patient safety, NACDS agreed. “Today, patients receive several different types of written medication information, developed by different sources that may be duplicative, incomplete or difficult to read and understand,” Nicholson pointed out. “This current system is not adequate to ensure that patients receive essential medication information.”

The NACDS official reminded Hamburg that his group was part of a coalition of pharmacy groups that submitted a citizen petition to the FDA in 2008, urging the agency to require drug suppliers to provide “a concise, plain-language document for patients” when they fill a prescription.

Among the group’s other priorities with the agency: adoption of an abbreviated approval pathway for biogenerics. Nicholson also applauded recent efforts by the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research and its director, Janet Woodcock, to address lingering skepticism among “certain sectors of the public” about the therapeutic equivalence of generic drugs.

“We applaud Dr. Woodcock for acknowledging this skepticism and for making its resolution a high priority,” he added.

Nicholson also addressed the issue of safety in the pharmaceutical supply chain, noting that NACDS has long supported state efforts to prevent the entry of adulterated or counterfeit drugs into the distribution pipeline. He urged the FDA to continue its stepped-up efforts to assure the integrity of the drug supply system by pursuing “developing global alliances of regulators, more inspections and updated technology systems to assist the agency with increased workload.

“Our industry has supported state-level legislation requiring enhanced wholesale distributor licensure requirements and chain-of-custody ‘pedigrees’ for drug distributions outside the recognized and sale ‘normal distribution channel,’” Nicholson told Hamburg. To that end, he added, “more than 60% of the states have enacted laws and regulations to strengthen the security for the drug distribution supply chain.”

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