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Brenton Saunders tapped as new president, CEO of Forest Labs

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — The former CEO of Bausch + Lomb has been appointed president and CEO of Forest Labs, the drug maker said Tuesday.

Forest announced that it had hired Brenton Saunders to head the company, effective Oct. 1. Saunders will replace Howard Solomon, who has served as a director of Forest since August 2011. Saunders is currently chairman of the board’s compensation committee and a member of its compliance committee and will step down from those roles once assuming the new position. Solomon will remain as non-executive chairman of the board through the company’s 2014 annual meeting of stockholders, when Saunders will become the new chairman.

"Forest is an outstanding company with outstanding people, products and prospects," Saunders said. "It is an honor to be asked to take over the role as CEO and president, and I look forward to getting started immediately."

Saunders served as Bausch + Lomb’s CEO from 2010 through last month. Before that, he served in several leadership positions at Schering-Plough Corp., from 2003 until 2009, when Merck acquired the company.

 

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Hospital organization to launch new specialty pharmacy program

BY Alaric DeArment

CHICAGO — An organization of nonprofit academic medical centers has created a new specialty pharmacy program that it said would improve continuity of care and improve access to specialty drugs.

UHC said it would unveil the program in late 2013 or early 2014 to provide patients with access to the specialty medications they need at the hospitals where they’re treated. Specialty pharmacy is one of the fastest-growing segments of health care, the group said, growing at more than 20% per year, but hospitals that need specialty drugs to perform procedures or treat patients fill less than 20% of prescriptions for them.

"The UHC specialty pharmacy program will help member hospitals and health systems succeed in an accountable care organization environment in which continuity of care must be available," UHC SVP supply chain Jake Groenewold said. "A patient’s healthcare team must coordinate care and services among inpatient settings, outpatient settings, infusion clinics and pharmacies."

The program includes a data repository that UHC will use to track patient outcomes using its access to the data and provide clinical evidence for promoting the best therapeutic regimens. UHC also will identify patients who have a failed or unsustainable response to therapy and would be good candidates for a newly approved medication.

The organization cited one example in which a patient’s copayment for a specialty drug more than tripled. While the patient waited for assistance from the drug company, the specialty pharmacy withheld the prescription. Her physician worked with the hospital pharmacist to assist the patient and found a cheaper generic, resulting in the patient missing only one day of medication treatment.

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FDA issues guidelines for prospective makers of generic asthma, COPD drug

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — A new set of guidelines from the Food and Drug Administration could bring a generic version of a respiratory drug made by GlaxoSmithKline closer to reality.

The FDA guidelines, a set of non-binding recommendations released Monday, outline studies that manufacturers can conduct to determine equivalence between GSK’s Advair Diskus (fluticasone propionate; salmeterol xinafoate) and generic versions.

The main drug used in Advair Diskus loses patent protection in 2016, but it has been widely considered safer from generic competition than other drugs because it combines the drug and a device in the form of a special inhaler. According to the FDA guidelines, a generic drug company could theoretically win approval for a generic equivalent to the Advair Diskus if it develops an inhalation device that delivers the drug in a manner equivalent to the branded version.

Advair Diskus had sales of $4.9 billion, according to IMS Health.

 

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