PHARMACY

Express Scripts to pay out $9.5 million settlement

BY Drew Buono

BOSTON Express Scripts yesterday said that it will pay $9.5 million in an agreement with 28 states that alleged the pharmacy benefits manager misled consumers when it encouraged doctors to switch patients’ cholesterol drug brands under the guise of controlling costs, according to the Associated Press.

Express Scripts will pay $9.3 million of the settlement total to the states and the District of Columbia. The other $200,000 will be split up by no more than $25 apiece, to be given to individual patients to reimburse them for physician visits and tests linked to switches between rival brands of cholesterol-controlling drugs known as statins.

Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon said Express Scripts was deceptive in telling doctors in some cases that patients and their health plans would save money from a switch to a different drug brand to treat the same condition.

Express Scripts “did not clearly disclose to their client plans that money earned by Express Scripts accrued from the drug switching process would be retained by the company, and not passed directly to the client plan,” Nixon said.

In addition to the payments, Express Scripts is required under the settlement to make “clear and conspicuous disclosure” about its drug-switching practices, according to Martha Coakley, attorney general in Massachusetts, one of the states involved.

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Takeda could see Alogliptin approval in near future

BY Alaric DeArment

OSAKA, Japan Japanese pharmaceutical manufacturer Takeda’s new diabetes drug could get approval soon, according to Bloomberg.

According to the financial news agency, reports by analysts showed that the drug, alogliptin, had promise after the American Diabetes Association released parts of nine studies of the medication that were submitted for marketing approval in the U.S. in January, last week. They show the drug lowered blood sugar levels as much as Merck’s Januvia without serious side effects.

Alogliptin, also known as SYR-322, will compete with Merck’s Januvia and Novartis’ Galvus, which is also up for approval at the Food and Drug Administration. All three drugs are in a new class of diabetes treatments known as DPP4 inhibitors that signal the pancreas to produce more insulin and the liver to make less glucose, or blood sugar.

Assuming approval by the Food and Drug Administration, Alogliptin will succeed Actos, which generates about 29 percent of Takeda’s current revenue. Actos will lose patient approval in 2011.

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Accutane ingredient linked to increased risk of depression

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK A study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry has shown a link between use of the acne drug isotretinoin and increased risks of depression.

The drug was shown to more than double the risk of depression in a study of more than 30,000 people in Quebec who had received at least one prescription for it between 1984 and 2003.

Roche Pharmaceuticals’ drug Accutane has isotretinoin as its main active ingredient. The FDA originally granted approval to the drug in 1982.

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