PHARMACY

CVS Caremark: Enrolled members in subsidy programs will decrease

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. CVS Caremark announced on Friday that the number of low-income subsidy members enrolled in its Silverscript and Accendo Medicare Part D plans likely will decline by about 30% to 35% in 2010, which could negatively impact 2010 earnings by 3 cents to 4 cents.

In addition, the company previously noted in its second-quarter 2009 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. Consequently, the aggregate 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.

The company based its conclusions on a preliminary review of the results of the 2010 Medicare Part D competitive bidding process recently released by the CMS. Those results indicate that Silverscript and/or Accendo plans qualified to receive automatically assigned LIS members in 15 regions in 2010 as compared with 30 regions in 2009. The total number of beneficiaries that will ultimately be enrolled in Silverscript and Accendo Medicare Part D plans during the 2010 year will not be known until early 2010, the company stated.

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Study finds certain diabetes drugs may cause bone fractures

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK A certain class of diabetes drugs may put patients at higher risk of bone fractures, according to a study published in the online edition of the journal PLoS Medicine.

Researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, in the United Kingdom, used data from a database of more than 6 million British patients, using data from 1,819 patients aged 40 and older who had experienced a bone fracture while taking at least one drug called a thiazolidinedione.

Taking age and the resulting higher risk of fractures into account, the researchers found that patients had fractures at 1.43 times the rate while taking the drugs as when they didn’t take them. Among patients taking the drugs for four years or more, the rate was twofold. Though the study’s findings suggest an association between the drugs and higher risk of fractures, the researchers cautioned against jumping to conclusions based on them.

“These findings do not prove that thiazolidinediones cause fractures because, despite the self-controlled case-series design of this study, it remains possible that the people who have fractures share some unknown characteristic that affects their chances of breaking a bone,” the researchers wrote.

Thiazolidinediones, also known as glitazones include drugs such as GlaxoSmithKline’s Avandia (rosiglitazone) and Takeda Pharmaceuticals’ Actos (pioglitazone), both of which were included in the study.

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All cases of gestational diabetes should be treated, study finds

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK As the percentage of women who are overweight increases, so have cases of a form of diabetes that occurs in pregnant women and can put their babies at risk of metabolic disorders.

According to a study of 958 women, six to eight months pregnant with mild gestational diabetes, published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, all women with the condition should receive treatment for it. The women were broken into two groups, one that received no treatment and one that received counseling on diet and monitoring of glucose and, in some cases, insulin.

Most babies were born with normal weights, but 14.5% in the group that received no treatment were too large, compared with 7.1% of the babies in the treatment group, who also were less likely to experience birth trauma or have to be delivered by C-section.

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