PHARMACY

Cardinal Health Specialty Solutions acquires Sonexus Health

BY Michael Johnsen

DUBLIN, Ohio — Cardinal Health Specialty Solutions on Monday announced the acquisition of privately held Sonexus Health, a Dallas-based company that offers a range of patient access and specialty commercialization services.

“The addition of Sonexus Health to our portfolio brings us even closer to the patient by enabling us to provide a next generation solution to help clients ensure that patients who need specialty medications can get faster access to them and the right services to improve clinical outcomes,” said Scott Howell, SVP clinical affairs for Cardinal Health Specialty Solutions. “Our combined core competencies further strengthen our efforts to help payors, physician practices and biopharmaceutical manufacturers navigate the growing complexity of specialty care.”

Cardinal Health Specialty Solutions clients will now have access to Sonexus Health’s patient services "hub," which serves as a patient and physician practice support center that:

  • Reduces administrative burdens by working with patients, physician offices and insurance companies to facilitate treatment coverage and coordinate the medication reimbursement process;
  • Improves patient access by identifying appropriate copay assistance and free-drug programs that can make specialty medications more affordable;
  • Also improves patient access by delivering medications — based on manufacturer guidelines — with efficiency and supply chain integrity; and
  • Helps improve patient outcomes by delivering disease education and medication compliance programs.

In addition, Cardinal Health Specialty Solutions clients will have access to expanded third-party logistics services, enabling them to send higher volumes of smaller parcel shipments directly to physician offices, clinics and hospitals.

The base of Sonexus Health’s operations will remain in Dallas, and customers will continue to be served in the same service model currently offered.

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Teva announces launch of Adasuve

BY Ryan Chavis

JERUSALEM — Teva Pharmaceutical Industries announced the launch of Adasuve (loxapine) inhalation powder in a 10-mg dosage. The drug is the first and only orally inhaled medicine for the acute treatment of agitation associated with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder in adults.

Adasuve is administered through Alexza Pharmaceuticals’ Staccato, a single-use, hand-held drug delivery technology system. The drug device combination product provides rapid systemic delivery by inhalation of a thermally-generated aerosol of loxapine, a first generation antipsychotic, to the lung, according to the company.

“Existing treatment options for patients with agitation associated with schizophrenia or bipolar I disorder are limited to oral tablets or injectable modes of administration, sometimes requiring the use of restraints,” said Richard Jaffe, M.D., medical director for research and clinical trials at the Belmont Center for Comprehensive Treatment Philadelphia and a clinical trial investigator. “Adasuve is a drug-device combination that offers healthcare providers a new option to help manage agitation.”

Adasuve is currently available through a select distribution network.

 

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Safeway deal is more than the sum of its parts

BY Michael Johnsen

Following speculation that Safeway may be considering "strategic alternatives," Safeway executives during their latest conference call confirmed just that — the supermarket retailer placed itself on the sales block. Before that conference call, analysts were already putting two and two together and coming up with two viable suitors for the Safeway footprint — private investment firm Cerberus, also known as New Albertsons, and supermarket giant Kroger, which has just closed on Harris Teeter for $2.5 billion. Any deal would open the West Coast to either Cerberus or Kroger. 

Cerberus is said to be the lead bidder, but Kroger shouldn’t be ruled out. But what would Cerberus or Kroger be getting if they purchased Safeway outright for almost $10 billion? In addition to 1,335 locations and a $2.7 billion book of prescription business, there would be some intangibles in the deal as well — namely Safeway’s relatively advanced Just for U loyalty program and a yet-to-be launched health-and-wellness platform that’s supposed to evolve Safeway over the next decade from being a food retailer into being a health solutions center. 

Just for U boasts 6 million registered users and has been described as "terrific technology, great intellectual property [that is] a sustainable competitive advantage going forward" by Robert Edwards, Safeway CEO, president and director. Safeway is already employing "big data" to try and drive personalized deals for the Safeway faithful. And incremental sales from Just for U users are very strong at about $11 per household per week, Edwards told analysts last year. The program is mobile user friendly, and Safeway has reported in the past that its mobile users spend 44% more than its non-mobile users. 

Then there’s Safeway’s wellness platform. It’s yet to be launched, but representative of the company’s focus on augmenting the pharmacy side of its business. "We are very bullish about our pharmacy business and the role it plays in our future," Edwards told analysts this past fall. "If you look at the long-term trends that will affect grocery for many years going forward, it’s wellness. And we have a very strong pharmacy business, good leadership there and the business is performing very well. And so it is a key part of our go-to-market strategy. And I think given the trends, demographic trends and the importance of health care going forward, it will have an increasingly important role in our future."

The "good leadership" is long-time pharmaceutical industry veteran Darren Singer, who joined the company in 2011. "In April, Safeway took a big step to regaining full power in its pharmacy division with the hiring of pharmaceutical industry veteran Darren Singer as its new SVP pharmacy, health and wellness," DSN wrote on the appointment. "Singer, who among other roles at GSK was VP marketing for OTC wellness, could bolster Safeway’s ongoing efforts to marry pharmacy with health and nutrition."

Safeway is a predominantly West Coast chain. The greatest concentration of Safeway branches is in California, with 506 stores, followed by Washington with 168 stores and Colorado with 115. 

New Albertsons operates 811 pharmacies that generate nearly $2 billion in prescription sales, according to DSN estimates, and New Albertsons’ companies extend across much of the Midwest and into the Northeast and New England states. Kroger, meanwhile, fields some 2,300 retail pharmacies and $8.3 billion in pharmacy revenue across the Southeast, Midwest and Southwest.

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