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CVS Caremark changes corporate name to reflect commitment to health care

BY Teresa Dombach

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Caremark announced today that it is changing its corporate name to CVS Health to reflect its broader health care commitment and its expertise-driven approach to driving innovation in health care.

“For our patients and customers, health is everything and CVS Health is changing the way health care is delivered to increase access, lower costs and improve quality,” announced Larry Merlo, president and CEO of CVS Health.  “As a pharmacy innovation company at the forefront of a changing healthcare landscape, we are delivering breakthrough products and services, from advising on prescriptions to helping manage chronic and specialty conditions.”

CVS Health includes the company’s retail business, which continues to be called CVS/pharmacy; its pharmacy benefit management business,  CVS/caremark; its walk-in medical clinics, CVS/minuteclinic; and its growing specialty pharmacy services, CVS/specialty. All told, the company includes 7,700 retail pharmacies, 900 walk-in medical clinics, a pharmacy benefits manager with nearly 65 million plan members and expanding specialty pharmacy services.

“Each year, CVS Health touches more than 100 million people by playing an active, supportive role in each person’s unique health experience and in the greater healthcare environment,” said Merlo.  “Consumers are increasingly taking control of their own health and, through our 26,000 pharmacists and nurse practitioners, we are helping people on their path to better health.”

CVS Health has a portfolio of programs to help people manage chronic disease and connects patients with pharmacists. Digital capabilities are supplementing these programs to give customers a full view of their prescriptions. CVS Health’s Specialty Connect and Maintenance Choice programs integrate the company’s mail and retail capabilities, providing choice and convenience for patients. CVS Health also is forging strategic alliances with physicians and health plans through both CVS/pharmacy and CVS/minuteclinic to provide clinical support, medication counseling, chronic disease monitoring and wellness programs for their members.

As a further demonstration of its commitment to health, CVS Health also announced the end of tobacco sales at CVS/pharmacy as of Sept. 3, nearly a month ahead of the previously targeted date of Oct. 1. In February, the company announced that it would end the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products at its CVS/pharmacy stores, making CVS/pharmacy the first and only national pharmacy chain to take this step in support of the health and well-being of its patients and customers.

“Along with the start of CVS Health, the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products at CVS/pharmacy ends today. By eliminating cigarettes and tobacco products from sale in our stores, we can make a difference in the health of all Americans,” Merlo declared.

“The sale of tobacco in a retail pharmacy conflicts with the purpose of the healthcare services delivered there,” added Troyen Brennan, chief medical officer of CVS Health. “Even more important, there is evidence developing that indicates that removing tobacco products from retailers with pharmacies will lead to substantially lower rates of smoking with implications for reducing tobacco-related deaths.”

Results of a new study from CVS Health, included in a Health Affairs blog, show that the enactment of policies to eliminate the sale of tobacco products at retailers with pharmacies in San Francisco and Boston was associated with up to a 13.3% reduction in purchasers of tobacco products.

“Today should mark a call to action by all retailers involved in health care,” said Matthew Myers, president of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “We urge other retailers with pharmacies to follow the powerful example set by CVS/pharmacy and end tobacco sales.”

In addition to removing cigarettes and tobacco products for sale, CVS Health kicked off a comprehensive and uniquely personalized smoking-cessation campaign to help millions of Americans to quit smoking.

“Quitting smoking is one of the most important things you can do to improve your health and protect the health of your family, but quitting isn’t easy,” said Helena Foulkes, president of CVS/pharmacy.

The CVS Health smoking cessation program, designed with input from national experts, combines the efforts of CVS/pharmacy, CVS/minuteclinic and CVS/caremark to help smokers quit, and includes four critical components: an assessment of the smoker’s readiness to quit, education to give smokers the information and tools they need to quit, medication support to help curb the desire to use tobacco, and coaching to help individuals stay motivated and prevent relapses.

“We learned following our announcement in February that nearly everyone has a tobacco story and was eager to tell it,” Foulkes continued. “So, today we are launching a social campaign — #OneGoodReason — in which we are inviting everyone to share their personal stories of how smoking and tobacco use has affected their lives.  Our hope is that through the sharing of these stories we can spark a movement that will make lasting improvements in health across our country.”

“Today, as CVS Health, we are tobacco-free, reinventing pharmacy and taking our place among leaders in the healthcare community,” Merlo concluded.

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With U.K. court decision, Teva one step closer to launching Symbicort equivalent in Europe

BY Michael Johnsen

JERUSALEM — Teva Pharmaceutical on Wednesday announced that a positive judgment has been given by the U.K. High Court in support of Teva's case against AstraZeneca relating to the validity of EP 1,085,877 covering the SMART (Single inhaler Maintenance And Reliever Therapy) indication for AstraZeneca's fixed dose formoterol/budesonide combination product, Symbicort.
 
The court agreed with Teva that AstraZeneca’s patent covering the SMART indication of Symbicort was obvious, and rejected AstraZeneca's proposed amendments to the patent on the basis that they added matter. The case was brought to facilitate Teva's European launch of its formoterol/budesonide fixed combination product, DuoResp Spiromax which utilizes Teva's Spiromax device technology.
 
“Our DuoResp Spiromax product brings effective treatment to the patient in a device that is intuitive and easy to use," stated Rob Koremans, president and CEO, Teva Global Specialty Medicines. “[This] judgment is a big step in enabling us to make a difference to people’s lives in the U.K. and all across Europe.”
 
This is the latest decision in Teva's favor in respect of AstraZeneca's fixed dose, formoterol/budesonide combination product, Teva reported. The Teva Group has previously successfully revoked patents EP 0,613,371 and also, EP 1,014,993, covering the use of the fixed dose combination in the treatment of asthma and in COPD respectively, and their national equivalents, before the European Patent Office and the Norwegian court.
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JAMA: Weight-loss differences between structured diet plans small; adherence is what matters

BY Michael Johnsen

CHICAGO — A diet by any other name is just as effective, according to a study in the Sept. 3 issue of JAMA. In an analysis of data from nearly 50 trials including about 7,300 individuals, significant weight loss was observed with any low-carbohydrate or low-fat diet, with weight loss differences between diet programs small, findings that support the practice of recommending any diet that a patient will adhere to in order to lose weight. 
 
Named or branded (trade-marked) weight-loss programs provide structured dietary and lifestyle recommendations via popular books and in-person or online behavioral support and represent a multibillion-dollar industry. Debate regarding the relative merit of the diets is accompanied by advertising claiming which macronutrient composition is superior, such as a low-carbohydrate or low-fat diet. Establishing which of the major named diets is most effective is important because overweight patients often want to know which diet results in the most effective weight loss, according to background information in the article. 
 
Bradley Johnston of the Hospital for Sick Children Research Institute, Toronto, and McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis to assess the relative effectiveness of different popular diets in improving weight loss. The researchers conducted a search of the medical literature to identify studies in which overweight or obese adults (body mass index 25 or greater) were randomized to a popular self-administered named diet and reported weight or body mass index data at 3-month follow-up or longer.
 
The meta-analysis included 59 articles that reported 48 randomized clinical trials (7,286 individuals; median age, 46 years; median weight, 207.5 lbs.). In the diet-class analysis adjusted for exercise and behavioral support, all treatments were superior to no diet at 6-month follow-up. Compared with no diet, low-carbohydrate diets had a median difference in weight loss of 19.2 lbs. and low-fat diets had similar estimated effects in weight loss of 17.6 lbs. 
 
At 12-month follow-up, the estimated average weight losses of all diet classes compared with no diet were approximately 2.2 lbs. to 4.4 lbs. less than after 6-month follow-up. The diet classes of low fat (16 lbs.) and low carbohydrate (16 lbs.) continued to have the largest estimated treatment effects. 
 
Weight loss differences between individual diets were minimal. For example, the Atkins diet resulted in a 3.8 lbs. greater weight loss than the Zone diet at 6-month follow-up. “Although statistical differences existed among several of the diets, the differences were small and unlikely to be important to those seeking weight loss,” the authors noted. 
 
“Our findings should be reassuring to clinicians and the public that there is no need for a one-size-fits¬all approach to dieting because many different diets appear to offer considerable weight loss benefits. This is important because many patients have difficulties adhering to strict diets that may be particularly associated with cravings or be culturally challenging (such as low-carbohydrate diets)," the authors wrote. "Our findings suggest that patients may choose, among those associated with the largest weight loss, the diet that gives them the least challenges with adherence. Although our study did not examine switching between diets, such a strategy may offer patients greater choices as they attempt to adhere to diet and lifestyle changes.”
 
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