PHARMACY

Cigna, Merck Helps band together to stop diabetes

BY Allison Cerra

BLOOMFIELD, Conn. An insurance company and a patient assistance program have joined forces to improve medication adherence outcomes of Type 2 diabetes patients.

Cigna and drug maker Merck’s Merck Helps program inked a two-part contract that provided discounts if Cigna customers with diabetes lowered their blood sugar levels, regardless of the medication they were taking, and also provided for additional discounts if people who were prescribed Merck’s drugs Januvia and Janumet took their medications according to their physicians’ instructions. Discounts will be shared in various ways with Cigna employer clients.

Medication adherence was 87% for people taking Januvia (sitagliptin) and Janumet (sitagliptin/metformin), Merck’s oral anti-diabetes medications. The medications are used in conjunction with diet and exercise to improve blood sugar control in adults with Type 2 diabetes, a condition that has reached epidemic proportions in the United States, the companies said.

"Merck is pleased to partner with Cigna on this program," said Sethu Reddy, VP medical affairs at Merck. "As the number of people with diabetes continues to increase in the United States and globally, achieving blood sugar control and increasing adherence to diabetes treatment regimens are important goals for patients with Type 2 diabetes and their doctors."

Added Jeffrey Kang, Cigna’s chief medical officer, "Because Cigna is able to coordinate data and resources within our company, we are better able to support the health needs of the whole person. By integrating medical and pharmacy programs, we can identify people who may need extra support early in the diagnosis and progression of their diabetes, which means customers can potentially stay healthier longer."

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GSK to pay $750 million to settle contamination suit

BY Alaric DeArment

LONDON British drug maker GlaxoSmithKline will pay nearly $1 billion to the U.S. government to settle allegations that it sold contaminated and ineffective products.

 

The company will plead guilty to criminal charges relating to drugs made at a manufacturing plant in Cidra, Puerto Rico, which it closed in 2009, and pay $750 million. In a whistleblower suit filed by a former employee, it was alleged that the company knowingly sold defective supplies of various drugs, including the baby ointment Bactroban (mupirocin) and the antidepressant Paxil (paroxetine).

 

 

“This settlement resolves a significant and long-standing legal issue facing the company,” GSK SVP and head of global litigation P.D. Villarreal said. “We regret that we operated the Cidra facility in a manner that was inconsistent with current Good Manufacturing Practice requirements and with GSK’s commitment to manufacturing quality.”

 

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Pharmaxis: Bronchitol improved symptoms among CF patients

BY Allison Cerra

BALTIMORE Drug maker Pharmaxis got promising results from an investigative treatment for cystic fibrosis, the company said.

 

Pharmaxis announced results of two six-month phase-3 trials of 643 patients receiving Bronchitol (mannitol), which the company presented last week at the North American Cystic Fibrosis Conference in Baltimore.

 

 

According to study results, patients treated with Bronchitol experienced an average 7.3% improvement in lung function and experienced a “highly significant” improvement compared with patients in the control group.

 

 

“This comprehensive analysis of the pooled results provides an important insight into the overall benefits Bronchitol can provide to patients who are receiving the current best standard of care,” Pharmaxis CEO Alan Robertson said. “The number of exacerbations in the two studies was fairly low, reflecting the aggressive treatment with antibiotics that is now common practice in the clinic.”

 

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