PHARMACY

FDA updates review of bisphosphonates in treatment of osteoporosis

BY Michael Johnsen

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday announced its update on the safety review of bisphosphonates, including Merck’s Fosamax, that found no clear association between overall bisphosphonate exposure and heart disease.

Fosamax is indicated for the treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis.

“As with all of its medicines, Merck regularly monitors adverse experiences with Fosamax in its clinical trials and post-marketing events and reports these events to regulatory agencies worldwide in accordance with domestic and international reporting regulations and safety guidelines,” the company said.

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CVS Caremark taps Brennan as executive VP, chief medical officer

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. CVS Caremark has appointed former Aetna executive Troyen Brennan as executive vice president and chief medical officer.

In this newly created role, Brennan will be responsible for MinuteClinic, Accordant Health Care, clinical and medical affairs, and health care strategy.

Most recently, Brennan served as chief medical officer for Aetna, the nation’s third largest health insurer. At Aetna, Brennan was responsible for clinical operations, national quality management, disease management and other programs. Before Aetna, Brennan was president and chief executive officer of Brigham and Women?s Physicians Organization in Boston, and also previously served that hospital as director of quality measurement and improvement. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.

“Troy Brennan is a highly regarded national health care expert who not only understands the challenges of health care today, but has hands on experience with all aspects of the health care delivery system. As a former practicing physician, hospital administrator with background in quality care measurement, and leader of a top health care insurer, Troy’s experience will help strengthen our company’s integrated approach to improving access, affordability and quality of care,” said Tom Ryan, chairman, chief executive officer and president of CVS Caremark. “He is a great addition to our management team.”

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Walgreens unveils MedMonitor Complete; program will reduce costs, company says

BY Jim Frederick

DEERFIELD, Ill. Walgreens Health Services today unveiled a new drug utilization management program aimed at promoting prescription compliance among patients and holding down total healthcare costs.

The program, called MedMonitor Complete, is holistic in its approach, Walgreens noted. It uses an advanced, automated patient-matching process to provide a single clinical view of a patient, and maintains the patient’s claims history, even if they’ve changed their name, employer group or cardholder identification number.

MedMonitor integrates prescription and medical claims to review an entire population and identify patients’ risks for adverse drug events, according to the company. It also looks at the potential for patients’ non-compliance to “clinically appropriate standards of therapy.”

To boost compliance, clinical pharmacists communicate directly with patients and/or their health care professionals to alert them to drug-related problems such as over- or under-utilization, or opportunities to benefit from additional therapy. This process “effectively minimizes patient disruption while arming health care professionals with the necessary information to improve patient care,” Walgreens Health Services noted in a statement.

One large-scale application of the intervention program yielded $54 in savings per member per month, WHS added.

“Our goal with MedMonitor Complete is to provide healthcare professionals the most clinically relevant information that yields the greatest impact,” said Jim Langman, Walgreens’ vice president of clinical services. “The program’s impact calculations are pure, not artificially inflated with brand-to-generic conversions, step therapies and prior authorizations.”

Langman added that the results are “fully transparent,” allowing benefit managers to “clearly see reduced cost and positive health outcomes for their members.”

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