PHARMACY

CVS Caremark, Generation Health to offer GBM service

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. CVS Caremark and Generation Health have announced that they will offer an integrated genetic benefit management service — using the industry’s first Best Test Genetics Network for coordination of testing — directed at tailoring prescriptions to members based on their DNA.

CVS Caremark acquired a majority interest in Generation Health in December 2009; however, Generation Health operates as an independent business from CVS Caremark, offering a range of GBM services to employers, health plans and provider networks.

The initial product offering is available to CVS Caremark PBM services clients and focuses on 13 drug therapies. For medications generally dispensed through PBM services, the target medications include Imuran, Nolvadex, Plavix, Tabloid, Tegretol and Ziagen. The partnership also will initially focus on seven medications dispensed through CVS Caremark’s specialty pharmacy business, including Pegasys and Copegus, for the treatment of hepatitis C, as well as oncological drugs Gleevec, Tasigna, Sprycel, Tarceva and Tykerb.

For each drug therapy, testing will be coordinated through the industry’s first Best Test Genetics Network, a preferred provider organization of diagnostic service providers that offer evidence-based genetic and molecular testing.

The GBM service offering will be launched for a select group of CVS Caremark’s PBM clients in the months ahead, with the product becoming available to all clients starting January 2011. In addition, the CVS Caremark and Generation Health collaboration will be expanding its GBM service offerings as is warranted by research and medical advances.

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Teva launches generic Yaz

BY Allison Cerra

JERUSALEM Teva Pharmaceutical Industries has launched a generic oral contraceptive, the drug maker said Tuesday.

Gianvi is the generic version of Bayer’s Yaz tablets, which had total sales of nearly $782 million in the United States for 12 months ended Dec. 31. Teva has been awarded a 180-day period of marketing exclusivity for the contraceptive.

As previously announced, Teva has the right to launch an authorized generic version of the product, supplied by Bayer, in July 2011.

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Consumer Reports survey: Antidepressant use on the rise

BY Allison Cerra

YONKERS, N.Y. A new Consumer Reports health survey found that nearly 80% of respondents seeking treatment for depression or anxiety were prescribed antidepressants.

Of the 1,500 subscribers surveyed, Consumer Reports found that 78% respondents use antidepressants to aid their mental health issues. CR also found that 58% had experienced anxiety, up from 41% in 2004 when CR last surveyed subscribers about these conditions. The survey sought to show how subscribers treat their mental health conditions and asked readers who took drugs for anxiety, depression or both within the past three years to rate them.

The survey also found that older, often less expensive antidepressants known as SSRIs  (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) such as Lexapro, Celexa, Prozac and Zoloft work just as well, and with fewer side effects (51% of respondents said), than newer, more costly drugs known as SNRIs (serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors) like Cymbalta and Effexor (49%). SSRIs and SNRIs address depression by altering the levels of certain brain chemicals, CR said.

CR also found, however, that talk therapy was effective in treating anxiety or depression in patients, it received high marks from CR’s survey participants–91% said therapy made things “a lot” or “somewhat” better. People who stuck with talk therapy for at least seven sessions had significantly better outcomes that those who went to six or fewer sessions. What’s more, they scored as high as people treated mostly with medication on an overall outcome scale.

“Pharmaceutical companies stand to profit most from convincing consumers that drugs are the only answer to depression and anxiety, and that newer, more expensive drugs are a better alternative to older drugs and their generic counterparts,” said Nancy Metcalf, senior program editor, Consumer Reports Health.  “Our survey shows that a combination of therapy and medication works best, and that despite the intense marketing push consumers are subjected to, there is no evidence that newer drugs like Pristiq and Cymbalta work any better than older medications in their class.”

Click here to read the full report.

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