CVS Health expands medication disposal efforts
CVS Health is continuing its push to make safe medication disposal available to patients, expanding efforts in South Carolina and launching them in Massachusetts. The company has added 22 new in-store medication disposal units in South Carolina to supplement those donated to law enforcement, and unveiled its inaugural Bay State disposal unit in Medford, Mass.
The first disposal unit of a planned 42 that will be in CVS Pharmacy locations through Massachusetts was unveiled by CVS health executive vice president, chief policy and external affairs officer and general counsel Tom Moriarty, who got an assist from state officials. Gov. Charlie Baker, state health and human services secretary Marylou Sudders and Massachusetts attorney general Maura Healey joined Moriarty to highlight the role that safe medication disposal can play in curbing the opioid crisis.
“Addiction can often start at home in our own medicine cabinets, and today we are pleased to partner with CVS Health and build on efforts to address this public health crisis across the Commonwealth,” Baker said. “The units give our residents more safe and reliable ways to discard unwanted medications and using them will prevent unnecessary exposure to addictive opioids for anyone in your home.”
Alongside the introduction of the Massachusetts disposal unit, the CVS Health Foundation announced $150,000 in grants for organizations that support addiction intervention, treatment and recovery efforts. The beneficiaries of the grant are programs at Boston Medical Center, Mattapan Community Health Center and Greater Lawrence Family Health Center, the company said.
In South Carolina, the in-store disposal units supplement the roughly 24 that the company had donated to police and sheriff departments in the state.
“With a presence in nearly 10,000 communities across the country, we see firsthand the impact of the alarming and rapidly growing epidemic of opioid addiction and misuse,” Moriarty said. “Expanding our safe medication disposal efforts here in South Carolina is an extension of the initiatives in place across our company to fight the opioid abuse epidemic and fulfill our purpose of helping people on their path to better health.”
Moriarty was joined at a CVS Pharmacy location in Lexington, S.C. by the state’s attorney general Alan Wilson, state Rep. Chip Huggins and Lexington police chief Terrence Green.
“We know that opioids and other dangerous drugs often end up in the wrong hands after being taken out of parents’ and grandparents’ medicine cabinets,” said Attorney General Wilson. “We appreciate CVS’s efforts to help fight the opioid epidemic by giving people a safe and easy way to dispose of unwanted medications.”
The company has now expanded medication disposal to 750 CVS Pharmacy locations as part of its enterprise efforts to combat opioid abuse and misuse.
FDA approves 2 Perrigo topical generics
The Food and Drug Administration has approved two topical generics from Perrigo, with one of them launching immediately. The agency approved the company’s generic of Estrace Cream (estradiol vaginal cream, 0.01%) and Epiduo Gel (adapalene and benzoyl peroxide gel, 0.1/2.5%).
The Epiduo Gel generic — a topical treatment for acne vulgaris in patients 9-years-old and older — will launch immediately, the company said. The product had U.S. sales of roughly $164 million for the past 12 months, according to IQVIA data.
The Estrace Cream generic is indicated to treat severe symptoms of vulvar and vaginal atrophy due to menopause, and the company said that its partner Impax Labs would be marketing the generic. Perrigo said the product would launch in the second quarter of 2018. The drug had U.S. sales of roughly $457 million for the past 12 months, based on IQVIA data.
New generics company emerges from unlikely source
There will soon be a new generics manufacturer to contend with — one that comes with a built-in base of 450 hospitals. Four major health systems — Salt Lake City-based Intermountain Healthcare, alongside Ascension, SSM Health and Trinity Health — are coming together to create a nonprofit generic drug company in consultation with the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The health systems expect the effort to be an FDA-approved manufacturer that will either directly manufacture or sub-contract the manufacture of generics in an effort to create affordable medications. Intermountain Healthcare president and CEO Marc Harrison said that the effort would bring necessary competition to the generics market.
The as-yet-unnamed company’s formation will be guided by an advisory committee composed of pharmaceutical industry and regulatory veterans, including former administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Don Berwick and Madhu Balachandran, formerly Amgen’s executive vice president of global operations, among others.
“This initiative has the potential to greatly expand the availability and affordability of critically needed medications for millions of Americans, especially for people living in poverty and those most vulnerable,” said Anthony Tersigni, president and CEO of St. Louis-based Ascension.
“Rather than waiting and hoping for generic drug companies to address this need, we are taking this bold step on behalf of those we are privileged to serve. I’m pleased to see our respective systems come together, along with the VA, to ensure affordability and access to these essential medications.”
The Veterans Health Administration’s executive in charge, Caroline Clancy, praised the effort, noting, “Increasing generic drug manufacturing capacity will generate a more stable generic drug supply and will reduce the negative clinical impact of chronic drug shortages, including the impact on our nation’s veterans.”