Bad ties, thin hair and strong perspective
Twenty years ago this month, I put on what was then my “lucky” tie, this horrible, neon yellow number from Banana Republic — it wore more like a bad Hawaiian shirt than a tie — and I started a new job as senior editor for OTCs and natural health at Drug Store News.
Sure, I have a lot less hair today than I did then, but I also have much better taste in ties.
And I’ve also enjoyed a pretty good perspective on a lot of the transformation that has occurred in retail pharmacy during that time.
This month also marks the sixth anniversary for a special, stand-alone edition of Drug Store News that was specifically created to help educate policy-makers on the important role community pharmacy plays as the face of health care in neighborhoods all across America. (To view this year’s edition, click here.) Timed with the National Association of Chain Drug Stores’ annual RxIMPACT Day on Capitol Hill, this month, our special RxIMPACT report — sponsored by Upsher-Smith — is delivered to all members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate.
Since it’s all still fresh in my mind, here’s a quick, five-point pitch on the value of community pharmacy — just in case you get caught in an elevator with your local congressman:
- Pharmacists are the most accessible of all healthcare professionals. More than 90% of Americans live within five miles of a community pharmacy;
- People trust the advice of the pharmacist. Pharmacists consistently rank second only to nurses among the most honest, ethical and trustworthy of all professions, according to an annual Gallup survey;
- Pharmacy lowers costs. Roughly two-thirds of likely voters said pharmacists provide credible advice that helps them save money;
- Pharmacy improves quality of care. Pharmacists do a lot more than just fill prescriptions. Pharmacists provide flu shots and other important vaccinations; they provide important disease-state management counseling and ensure patients take their medications as prescribed; and many are working in partnership with local hospitals and health systems to help patients transition successfully from the hospital back into their homes, lowering readmission rates; and
- Pharmacy brings innovation to health care. The industry continues to work on cutting-edge patient care programs, most recently including a personalized medicine pilot that is using pharmacogenomic testing to match patients to the most effective and cost-efficient therapy. Another focuses on the testing and treatment of flu and strep in a community pharmacy setting.
And lastly, tell them they don’t have to take your word for it. Invite them to visit a pharmacy in their district and see for themselves what pharmacy is doing to be the face of neighborhood health care.
Key approvals see big sales in first months
Among the 22 novel new drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2016, about half were considered specialty drugs, and Diplomat identified four key specialty approvals that innovate in certain categories. Two of these were in the hepatitis C space, which has driven specialty growth for several years.
(To view the full Category Review, click here.)
Gilead’s Epclusa (velpatasvir and sofosbuvir), approved in January, currently is the only treatment on the market that offers a singletablet regimen for patients with genotype 1–6 chronic hepatitis C — a U.S. patient population estimated between 2.7 million and 3.9 million. Despite being on the market for less than half the year, Gilead reported that Epclusa brought in U.S. sales of $1.6 billion for the company in 2016.
Also in the hepatitis C space was Merck’s Zepatier (elbasvir and graziprevir), which received breakthrough therapy designation for certain genotype 1 patients and genotype 4 patients. The total patient population for the drug is around 71% of the total hepatitis C patient population, and Merck reported Zepatier sales of $488 million in the United States, with $180 million in fourth-quarter U.S. sales.
The drug with the largest patient population (7.5 million) was Eli Lilly’s Taltz (ixekizumab), a new treatment for certain plaque psoriasis patients. Upon approval in March 2016, the drug joined the therapeutic class of such blockbuster drugs as Cosentyx, Enbrel, Humira and Remicade. In 2016, Taltz drew $110 million in sales.
On the other end of the patient population spectrum was AbbVie’s Venclexta (venetoclax), a treatment for certain patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia that can treat about 20% of CLL patients — 18,960 cases were diagnosed in 2016. The drug was given accelerated approval based on overall response rate, and though AbbVie has not disclosed sales, Thomson Reuters’ “Drugs To Watch 2016” report projected that it would see $1.5 billion in sales by 2020.
Cardinal Health completes Lymphoseek purchase
DUBLIN, Ohio — Cardinal Health completed its purchase of Lymphoseek, a product for lymphatic mapping lymph node biopsy and the diagnosis of metastatic spread to lymph nodes for the staging of cancer in North America, from Navidea Biopharmaceuticals.
Navidea received approximately $83 million at closing, and will have the opportunity to earn up to $227 million of contingent consideration based on certain milestones through 2026, with $17.1 million of that amount guaranteed during the next three years.
Cardinal Health will license a portion of the acquired intellectual property back to Navidea to allow Navidea to develop and sell new immunodiagnostic and immunotherapeutic products for specific purposes in North America, and to continue to produce and sell Lymphoseek, mostly under a different brand name, outside of North America.
“This transaction is transformative for Navidea, as we will have the financial flexibility to invest in our deep pipeline of activated macrophage targeted imaging agents and therapeutics. We want to commend Cardinal Health for their professionalism throughout this trying process for Navidea,” said Dr. Michael M. Goldberg, president and CEO of Navidea Biopharmaceuticals.