PHARMACY

Amylin outlines diabetes strategy for 2012

BY Alaric DeArment

SAN DIEGO — A special focus on its diabetes franchise will define Amylin Pharmaceuticals’ corporate strategy, the company’s chief executive said at a recent conference sponsored by J.P. Morgan.

Speaking at the 30th annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco, Amylin president and CEO Daniel Bradbury laid out the company’s plans for the launch of the injected Type 2 diabetes medication Bydureon (exenatide), a long-acting version of the drug Byetta. Amylin originally marketed Byetta and planned to market Bydureon under a partnership with Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly, but the companies terminated their agreement to develop exenatide products in November after Lilly started a diabetes drug collaboration with German drug maker Boehringer Ingelheim. Under the agreement to terminate the Amylin-Lilly collaboration, Amylin paid $250 million upfront to Lilly and agreed to share 15% of revenues from sales of exenatide products.

Bydureon is under review by the Food and Drug Administration, which is expected to decide whether or not to approve the drug by Jan. 28.

Bradbury listed Amylin’s priorities as launching Bydureon; securing a partner outside the United States to develop exenatide; maximizing the value of Byetta and Symlin (pramlintide acetate); advancing the development programs for the investigational drug metreleptin, as well as once-weekly and once-monthly formulations of exenatide; and a continued focus on financial discipline

"We have a truly extraordinary opportunity at Amylin as we embark on a year in which we are prepared to deliver the first ever once-weekly therapy in the U.S. for patients with Type 2 diabetes — which we believe could change the way people with diabetes manage their disease," Bradbury said. "With the addition of Bydureon in the U.S., we will solidify our position as a driving force in the fight against this rising global epidemic."


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PHARMACY

Sens. Conrad, Snowe raise bipartisan concerns over draft lists of Medicaid drug FULs

BY Antoinette Alexander

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — In a bipartisan effort, Sens. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., and Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, along with 12 of their colleagues, have expressed concerns with draft Federal Upper Limits lists for Medicaid generic drug reimbursement that recently have been published by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores and National Community Pharmacists Association commended the Senators for the effort.

"In publishing three draft lists of Medicaid drug FULs, CMS has provided states with a potential unofficial standard for setting state maximum allowable costs. Specifically, pharmacists believe that if states were to implement MACs based on the CMS’s draft FUL lists, pharmacies could see reduced reimbursement for selected generic drugs in the range of 30% to 60% of acquisition costs. Cuts of this magnitude could create a disincentive to dispense generic drugs, which is exactly the opposite of what we should be trying to achieve as we seek to control healthcare costs," the senators wrote in a letter to CMS. Fourteen senators signed the letter to CMS.

NACDS and NCPA also have expressed concern with the draft FUL lists in written comments to CMS. “We are pleased that our arguments have been given further credibility by a large, bipartisan group of senators,” stated NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson and NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey. “We want to especially thank senators Conrad and Snowe for their leadership on this important issue.”

In addition to urging CMS to cease publication of draft FUL lists until a final AMP rule is in place, the Senators also urged the agency to be mindful of comprehensive pharmacy reimbursement. “When setting pharmacy reimbursement rates, it is important that both components of reimbursement — product cost and cost to dispense — be taken into consideration to ensure pharmacies are adequately paid,” the senators wrote.

Last month, a similar bipartisan letter was sent to CMS by 40 U.S. representatives raising concerns over the flawed Medicaid pharmacy reimbursement process.


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CVS Caremark’s Helena Foulkes outlines integrated pharmacy-based program at forum

BY Antoinette Alexander

WASHINGTON — CVS Caremark’s chief healthcare strategy officer on Tuesday outlined how the company’s integrated pharmacy-based program for such chronic diseases as diabetes, called Pharmacy Advisor, increased medication adherence rates and physician initiation of prescriptions for concomitant medications to improve patient health.

At a forum sponsored by Health Affairs, Helena Foulkes, EVP and chief healthcare strategy and marketing officer, presented findings from a new CVS Caremark study that reviewed how Pharmacy Advisor, through targeted outreach and patient counseling, improved plan member health outcomes while working to reduce healthcare costs. 

"This study highlights the central role pharmacists play in improving the health of their patients and how our programs leverage that expertise as we reinvent pharmacy care," Foulkes said. "The program featured counseling by pharmacists at retail stores and a dedicated pharmacist call center for those identified as having diabetes. The pharmacist interventions resulted in increased patient adherence and encouraged higher initiation rates of medications needed to best treat diabetes. The results show we are helping people on their path to better health."

Presentations at the event discussed studies published in the January issue of Health Affairs that focused on treatment and healthcare programs for people with diabetes. As previously reported by Drug Store News, the Health Affairs January issue included a CVS Caremark study that outlined findings from an analysis of the pharmacy claims data of benefit members at a large Midwest manufacturing company that focused on interventions with diabetic patients between October 2009 and April 2010.

The study followed medication behavior of an intervention group of 5,123 people with diabetes who were proactively counseled by retail and call center pharmacists; and a control group of 24,124 patients with diabetes who did not receive specialized counseling. The researchers measured gains in patient adherence and medication initiation rates of concomitant therapies for diabetes, such as statins, ACE inhibitors and ARBs.

Researchers from CVS Caremark, assisted by experts from Harvard University and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, illustrated that contacts by pharmacists with the patients and their doctors increased therapy initiation rates by as much as 39% for the full sample, and an even higher 68% for the group counseled at retail stores, and increased medication adherence rates by 2.1%. The researchers noted that face-to-face interventions by retail store pharmacists resulted in increasing adherence rates by 3.9%.

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