PHARMACY

CDC study finds drops in cholesterol levels since 1988

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — An uptick in the use of cholesterol drugs since the late 1980s and changes in Americans’ diets may account for a fall in cholesterol levels, according to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study, published this week in The Journal of the American Medical Association, examined three CDC National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, from 1988-1994, 1999-2002 and 1997-2010, looking at levels of "bad" low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, serum total cholesterol and "good" high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. During the 22-year period, LDL cholesterol levels fell from 129 to 116; TC fell from 206 to 196; and HDL cholesterol levels increased from 50.7 to 52.5. While triglycerides — another lipid linked to heart disease — increased from 118 in 1988-1994 to 123 in 1999-2002, they fell to 110 in 1997-2010.  

The study noted falls in levels of harmful lipids among obese adults during the 22-year period while also finding increases in the use of lipid-lowering medications, from 3.4% in 1988-1994 to 15.5% in 1997-2010. Published reports also noted that the elimination of trans fats from many popular foods could be a factor.


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PHARMACY

CVS Caremark names EVP specialty pharmacy

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Caremark announced on Thursday the appointment of Alan Lotvin to the position of EVP specialty pharmacy.

Lotvin has extensive experience in the pharmacy benefit management and specialty pharmacy industries. Prior to joining CVS Caremark, Lotvin was president and CEO of Icore Healthcare, a Magellan Health Services company. Previously, he has held roles as president and COO of M|C Communications, a medical education provider, and served in various senior management positions at Medco Health Solutions, including president of specialty pharmacy services.

"Specialty pharmacy is an increasingly important growth area for CVS Caremark, and Alan’s in-depth experience and knowledge of the industry make him uniquely qualified to lead this portion of our business," said Jon Roberts, president of the CVS Caremark PBM business. "His expertise will enable us to continue to grow our specialty pharmacy leadership and identify opportunities for ongoing innovation to enable us to better help patients dealing with complex, debilitating diseases."

"I am looking forward to working with the team at CVS Caremark to continue to grow and build upon the company’s specialty pharmacy offerings," Lotvin stated. "With specialty drugs estimated to account for seven of the top 10 drugs in the United States by 2016, we need to continue to develop programs and solutions that will help our clients improve outcomes for these complicated diseases while managing cost and ensuring appropriate utilization."

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FDA approves first drug for eye condition

BY Alaric DeArment

SILVER SPRING, Md. — The Food and Drug Administration has approved what it called the first drug to treat an eye condition that can interfere with the part of the retina responsible for reading vision.

The agency announced the approval of Jetrea (ocriplasmin), made by Iselin, N.J.-based ThromboGenics. The drug is used to treat symptomatic vitreomacular adhesion.

VMA contributes to eye problems if the vitreous, the jelly in the center of the eye, moves away from the macula, the part responsible for reading vision, leading to damage to the macula due to tugging or pulling.

Jetrea is an enzyme that breaks down proteins in the eye responsible for VMA, allowing better separation between the vitreous and macula and reducing the chances that tugging will occur, the FDA said.


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