PHARMACY

HHS gives $49.1 million to 30 states

BY Drew Buono

WASHINGTON Health and Human Services secretary Michael Leavitt yesterday announced awards of over $49 million in grants to 30 states that provide health insurance to residents who cannot get conventional health coverage because of their health status.

The grants will be used by the states to offset losses that they incurred in the operation of high-risk pools, which are typically state-created non-profit associations that offer health coverage to individuals with serious medical conditions. Grant funds also provide support for disease management for chronic conditions and premium subsidies for individuals with lower incomes. Enrollment in these pools is growing, with more than 200,000 individuals enrolled in state pools.

“These grants will make it more affordable for states to expand access to health care through high risk pools for the uninsured,” Leavitt said. “Individuals who benefit from these pools usually have a history of health problems that make it extremely difficult to find affordable health coverage in the individual market.”

Funds were allocated based on the number of uninsured individuals in each state and the numbers of individuals enrolled in each pool. This year’s grants are in addition to approximately $286 million that states have received since 2003 to support this program.

The 30 states that received grants are as follows: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

The grants to support state high-risks pools are one piece in the Bush Administration’s broad strategy for expanding access to health care for the more than 40 million Americans without health insurance. HHS’ Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services administers the program.

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PHARMACY

Winn-Dixie announces executive appointments

BY Drew Buono

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. Winn-Dixie has announced the hiring of John Fegan, Dan Tobin and Peter Thomas to its pharmacy, development and real estate departments, respectively, in a effort to assist in the company’s turnaround.

Fegan has filled the position of vice president of pharmacy. In this position, he will work at overseeing the day-to-day and strategic operations of the company’s 400 plus pharmacy locations. Fegan mastered his skills in various key positions at Ahold USA which runs pharmacy locations under the banners: American Drug Stores, Pay’n Save Drug Stores, Gray Drug and Osco Drug.

Tobin joined Winn-Dixie as vice president of development. Tobin’s responsibilities include new store design and remodel initiatives. Prior to joining Winn-Dixie, Tobin held key positions at Albertsons and later at Brinker International, where he oversaw construction activities for casual-dining chains such as Chili’s, Romano’s Macaroni Grill, On The Border Grill & Cantina, and Maggiano’s Little Italy.

Thomas has assumed the title of vice president of real estate, is responsible for the development of the company’s new store capital and remodel initiatives. In this position he will work to increase market share within Winn-Dixie’s footprint. Thomas’ career includes time at well-known companies such as Big Y Foods, Purity Supreme Supermarkets, A&P, and McCarty-Holman Jitney Jungle.

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GSK, Actelion sign development deal for insomnia drug

BY Drew Buono

PHILADELPHIA and LONDON GlaxoSmithKline and the biotech company Actelion have signed a deal to develop an insomnia remedy drug, according to the Wall Street Journal.

GSK will pay Actelion $147.6 million upfront and then as much as $3 billion if the drug, almorexant gets approved for three market uses and hits “exceptional” sales targets. GSK and Actelion will split the profit from the drug’s sales in such markets as the U.S. and Europe, the companies said.

Almorexant is a new kind of drug, one that temporarily reduces levels of the brain chemical orexin, which is thought to help keep people awake. Sleep experts say the drug needs further study but could offer some benefits over Sanofi-Aventis’ blockbuster sleeping pill, Ambien, including fewer side effects.

If all goes well for GSK, almorexant could make it to the U.S. market by 2011 and could lead to sales of over $1 billion for GSK.

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