PHARMACY

CIPA Study: Many Americans continue to buy meds from Canada to curb costs

BY Antoinette Alexander

WINNIPEG, Manitoba — In a new survey of approximately 2,700 American customers, the Canadian International Pharmacy Association found continued demand for safely ordering prescription medications online from licensed Canadian pharmacies.

Approximately 64% of respondents purchase some or all of their health maintenance medications from a non-U.S. pharmacy because of the costs of filling the prescriptions. Another 22% said medications are not covered under their insurance plan. 

Many news reports and independent studies have documented the issue of dramatically rising medication prices and challenges Americans experience in affording their prescriptions. Twenty-five percent of survey respondents underscored this issue by acknowledging that lack of money has kept someone in their household from filling prescriptions during the last year, according to the findings. Approximately 30% reported having to skip doses, split pills, or take similar actions to restrict their use of prescribed medications because of high costs.

Customers reported spending $250 per month per prescription on average to order a 90-day supply of prescription medications for personal use, and saving approximately $246 (or 50%) per month by importing their medications from Canadian pharmacies.

According to the research, Americans predict serious health consequences without this option. Approximately 32% say they would only be able to fill some medications. Another 11% would not be able to purchase any of their medications. Previous reports have highlighted the issue of patients going off medications or rationing and the resulting harm to health along with the costs to the health care system. Further, since many who import their medications from Canada are seniors on Medicare, non-adherence and the resulting health implications and costs are a burden to the American taxpayer, researchers stated.

A majority of respondents (86%) reported their age as 55 years or older. In addition, 57% say their health insurance is self-funded and that they must fully cover the costs of their medications.

CIPA is an association of licensed retail pharmacies that sell 90-day supplies of pharmaceuticals and maintenance medications (but not controlled substances) to both Canadians and Americans with a valid prescription.
 

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Actavis’ Namenda IR must remain on market, appeals court rules

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK – The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on Friday upheld a lower court‘s decision ordering Actavis to keep its Alzheimer's treatment Namenda IR on the market until generic competition is available. 
 
Actavis has a newer once-daily formulation, Namenda XR, and had planned on switching patients to the new drug before the Namenda IR patent expires in October, according to reports. Generic equivalents could be on the market as soon as July, The Wall Street Journal reported
 
“While we are disappointed by the Court's decision to uphold this ruling, we intend to continue our strong efforts to convey the significant benefits of Namenda XR to physicians, patients and caregivers,” said Brent Saunders, CEO and president of Actavis. “Patient demand for Namenda XR is currently trending at more than 50% of the total product line's days of therapy and growing, underscoring the strong physician, patient and caregiver demand for our once-daily product.”
 
The Department of Health and Human Services reported in early May that pulling Namenda IR from the market completely could cost Medicare and its beneficiaries $6 billion over the next decade.

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Contract manufacturing to get a big boost from biosimilar approvals

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) recent approval of Zarxio (filgrastim-sndz) – the first biosimilar product approved in the United States – points toward growth in the contract manufacturing organization industry, Kalorama Information reported Friday. The mainstream CMO industry is geared to the production of small-molecular drugs and lacks the infrastructure to produce major biopharmaceutical products. 
 
The healthcare market research publisher's report, "Biopharmaceutical and Vaccine Production Markets," found that, though there are uncertainties, a large number of CMOs are positioning themselves to capitalize on the anticipated increase in the demand for biomanufacturing.
 
Sandoz' Zarxio, approved in March, is biosimilar to Amgen's Neupogen (filgrastim), which was originally licensed in 1991. Zarxio is approved for the same indications as Neupogen, and can be prescribed by a health care professional for patients with cancer receiving myelosuppressive chemotherapy, patients with acute myeloid leukemia receiving induction or consolidation chemotherapy, patients with cancer undergoing bone marrow transplantation, patients undergoing autologous peripheral blood progenitor cell collection and therapy and patients with severe chronic neutropenia.
 
"The most volatile factor in CMO growth is likely to be the approval and adoption of biosimilar products," said Bruce Carlson, publisher of Kalorama Information. "If these biologic generics deliver on the promise of massive cost savings for extremely expensive biopharmaceuticals, growth of biosimilars will spur dramatic growth in contract manufacturing production capacity. "  
 
Further the report says that since many biosimilar developers cannot lay claim to their own biomanufacturing facilities – and that a significant number of follow-on versions are successful for each current successful product – we can expect that the CMO market will profit from biosimilars development, with active pharmaceutical ingredients biologics manufacturing in particular an area of demand.
 

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