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CVS anticipates decline in Silverscript, Accendo plans

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. —CVS Caremark announced earlier this month that the number of low-income subsidy members enrolled in its Silverscript and Accendo Medicare Part D plans likely will decline by 30% to 35% in 2010, and it could have a negative impact on earnings.

A preliminary review of the results of the 2010 Medicare Part D competitive bidding process recently released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services indicated that Silverscript and/or Accendo plans qualified to receive automatically assigned LIS members will be in 15 regions (comprising 27 states) as compared with 30 regions (comprising 46 states, plus the District of Columbia) in 2009.

CVS stated that the total number of beneficiaries that ultimately will be enrolled in Silverscript and Accendo Medicare Part D plans during the 2010 year will not be known until early 2010, after the close of the open enrollment period.

Based on these results, the company estimated that the decrease in LIS members enrolled in Silverscript and Accendo plans during 2010 could negatively impact 2010 earnings by 3 cents to 4 cents. In addition, the company previously noted in its second-quarter earnings call that the effect of a regulatory change that effectively eliminated Medicare Part D network differential is expected to negatively impact 2010 earnings by 5 cents to 7 cents. So, in aggregate, the impact on 2010 earnings is expected to be 8 cents to 11 cents.

“While we are disappointed that we will serve fewer auto enrollees in 2010, the Medicare Part D business will still provide good returns and remain solidly profitable,” stated Dave Rickard, EVP, chief administrative officer and CFO of CVS Caremark.

Responding to the news, Bill Dreher, senior analyst at Deutsche Bank, issued a research note that stated: “We continue to expect CVS to show solid sales and EPS growth going forward, driven by unique offerings like Maintenance Choice, and as the company continues to gain share within both the retail and PBM businesses.”

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Hy-Vee celebrates the other white meat

BY Alaric DeArment

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa A lot of people complain about pork barrel spending, but not Midwest supermarket chain Hy-Vee.

October is National Pork Month, and the West Des Moines, Iowa-based Hy-Vee announced Friday that sales of the meat have increased more than 25% over October 2008. The chain said it was on track to increase pork tonnage by more than 30%.

 

“With pork prices the lowest they’ve been in more than a decade, we’ve focused our marketing efforts on promoting pork as a great value for consumers,” Hy-Vee assistant VP meat operations Kenan Judge said in a statement. “Today’s shopper is looking for nutritious, economical meal ideas, and pork perfectly fits the bill.”

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Patients prefer new diabetes drug Victoza over its competitor, survey finds

BY Alaric DeArment

MONTREAL A new diabetes drug satisfied patients more than its competitor, according to a study funded by the drug’s manufacturer.

According to data on 379 patients who took the Diabetes Treatment Satisfaction Questionnaires, presented Thursday at the 20th World Diabetes Congress and published in medical journal The Lancet, patients taking Novo Nordisk’s drug Victoza (liraglutide) perceived less abnormally low or high blood sugar levels — known respectively as hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia — than those taking Byetta (exenatide), made by Eli Lilly & Co., Amylin Corp. and Alkermes.

Victoza is approved in Europe, but Novo Nordisk is still waiting for approval from the Food and Drug Administration in the United States.

“Liraglutide has shown here in a convincing study that it is associated with less nausea, less perceived hypoglycemia and definitely higher patient satisfaction compared to exenatide,” principal investigator Wolfgang Schmidt said in a statement. “Patient-reported outcomes data is an important extension of the efficacy data. If a patient is satisfied with his or her treatment, then they are much more likely to really stick to the treatment over the long term, which is necessary in Type 2 diabetes.”

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