PHARMACY

Canadian provinces to reduce reimbursements for six generics

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — Canada’s provincial and territorial governments have reached a deal that they said would save money on drugs, but that generic drug makers said had left them "disappointed."

According to published reports, a group of premiers — heads of government for Canada’s provinces and territories — had reached a coordinated deal to reduce the prices their governments paid for six generic drugs, though Quebec did not take part; that province announced in November 2012 the elimination of its "15-year rule," a rule unique to the province that required its prescription drug plan to reimburse the price of the original drug even after patent expiration had made cheaper generics available. Currently, provinces pay between 25% and 40% of the cost of branded drugs for six key generics, but under the deal, they will pay 18% starting in April.

The drugs are the generic versions of Pfizer’s cholesterol drug Lipitor (atorvastatin); King Pharmaceuticals’ blood pressure drug Altace (ramipril); Pfizer’s antidepressant Effexor (venlafaxine); Pfizer’s angina drug Norvasc (amlodipine); AstraZeneca’s gastroesophageal reflux disease drug Prilosec (omeprazole); and Eisai and Johnson & Johnson’s GERD drug Aciphex (rabeprazole).

While praising a decision by the provincial governments not to pursue a plan to tender for generic drugs, the Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association was displeased with the reimbursement reduction.

"CGPA is pleased that provincial governments have decided not to proceed with tendering for generic pharmaceutical products. Tendering for generic drugs could result in drug shortages and delayed savings to Canada’s healthcare system." CGPA president Jim Keon said. "We are, however, disappointed by the provincial governments’ announcement of further cuts to retail or reimbursed prices for generic prescription medicines."

Canada’s generic drug industry saw significant expansion starting in 1969, when the Patent Act was amended to allow manufacturers to import the active ingredients for making generic versions of branded drugs. But the generics industry in Canada hasn’t made the same strides as its U.S. equivalent. While generics account for 80% of dispensed prescriptions here, the equivalent rate in Canada is more than 60%, according to IMS Health.

According to published reports, the provinces hope the new plan will save them nearly $100 million, including about $10 million in Saskatchewan alone. But the CGPA said prices had already been "dramatically" reduced.

Meanwhile, the plan could hurt pharmacy retailers, according to reports. Credit Suisse downgraded the shares of Canadian drug chain and drug manufacturer The Jean Coutu Group following the news, even though the company’s profits increased by 10% to $55.8 million in the third quarter due to higher generic drug sales.


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McKesson Specialty names medical director

BY Michael Johnsen

THE WOODLANDS, Texas — McKesson Specialty Health and the U.S. Oncology Network on Friday announced that Marcus Neubauer accepted the position of medical director of oncology services for McKesson Specialty Health, effective March 1. 

“Dr. Neubauer is a respected and impressive physician who is committed to advancing the quality and science of cancer care,” stated Roy Beveridge, chief medical officer for McKesson Specialty Health and the U.S. Oncology Network. “With more than two decades of medical experience and his intimate knowledge of pathways, diagnostics and community-based patient care, he is the perfect fit for this position.”

In his new role, Neubauer will serve as the primary medical liaison between physicians in the U.S. Oncology Network and physicians and executives within the National Comprehensive Cancer Network. This includes ensuring that the recently announced Value Pathways powered by NCCN are 100% concordant with NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology and that they are well integrated in a clinical quality and regimen support system — an important step in ensuring patients receive the highest quality treatment while offering options to address costs of cancer care, McKesson Specialty noted. 

Neubauer will serve as the physician lead for the suite of payer-facing solutions delivered to oncology providers, and will support the development and marketing of quality solutions and programs to providers, payers and employers.

Neubauer has been heavily involved in the U.S. Oncology Network for more than 15 years. He serves as chair of the U.S. Oncology Network Pathways Task Force, sits on the editorial board of the Journal of Oncology Practice and most recently served as an oncologist with Kansas City Cancer Center. He has been published more than 20 times and is a member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Neubauer is board certified in internal medicine and medical oncology.

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B.Franklin says:
Aug-30-2013 05:01 am

Well that's really great we are hoping to get advanced and beneficial medical care service through different strategies after Marcus Neubauer enter into the position. We are really estimating certain high level changes in medical care system in McKesson Specialty Health. Definitely these kinds of changes should be essential in every health care sector. urgent care Cincinnati

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FDA approves Gleevec for most common pediatric cancer

BY Alaric DeArment

SILVER SPRING, Md. — The Food and Drug Administration has approved a Novartis drug for treating leukemia in children.

The FDA said Friday that it approved Gleevec (imatinib) for treating children newly diagnosed with Philadelphia chromosome-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia, also known as Ph+ ALL.

ALL is the most common type of cancer in children, the FDA said, affecting about 2,900 children per year. In children with Ph+ ALL, a genetic abnormality causes proteins called tyrosine kinases to stimulate the bone marrow to make too many immature white blood cells, leaving less room for healthy white blood cells to fight infection.

"We are pleased that the number of cancer medications for children are on the rise," FDA office of Hematology and Oncology Products director Richard Pazdur said. "Today’s approval is the result of continuous interactions among the FDA, the Children’s Oncology Group and the National Cancer Institute to provide new and better treatments to American children with cancer."


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