PHARMACY

Hospira appoints Royce Bedward to executive legal position

BY Alaric DeArment

LAKE FOREST, Ill. — Hospira has appointed one of the founding members of its legal leadership team to corporate VP, general counsel and secretary, the company said.

Hospira said the appointment of Royce Bedward would take effect immediately. Bedward will report to SVP and general counsel Brian Smith.

"Royce is an accomplished lawyer and integrity-driven business leader with more than 10 years of experience in the healthcare field and a proven track record of success at Hospira," CEO F. Michael Ball said. "We look forward to Royce’s many additional contributions, while thanking Brian for his continued service and counsel."

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GPhA defends patent settlements as Supreme Court date nears

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — The stakes are high in a case involving generic drug maker Actavis and the Federal Trade Commission that will soon go before the Supreme Court, the head of a generic drug industry lobbying group said in a conference call with reporters Tuesday.

The case, FTC v. Actavis, will go before the high court on March 25 and may decide the future of patent settlements between branded and generic drug companies. The Generic Pharmaceutical Association filed an amicus brief with the court last week defending the settlements as beneficial to consumers.

"I cannot emphasize enough the enormous consequences with respect to this Supreme Court decision," GPhA president and CEO Ralph Neas told reporters Tuesday.

The FTC petitioned the Supreme Court to review the case in October 2012, arguing that antitrust rules were violated when Solvay Pharmaceuticals — now owned by AbbVie — paid Watson Pharmaceuticals, which has since changed its name to Actavis, millions of dollars per year to hold off launching its generic version of the drug AndroGel (testosterone gel) until 2015 as part of a settlement in a patent-infringement case filed against Watson when it originally tried to challenge the drug’s patent. According to Food and Drug Administration data, AndroGel’s patent will expire in August 2020, and the patent covering the drug’s use in children will expire about six months later.

Such deals between generic and branded drug companies are common, but have attracted the scrutiny of regulators and Congress who call them "pay-for-delay" settlements. The FTC and its outgoing chairman, Jon Leibowitz, have been long-standing and vocal opponents of the deals, which they say keep generic drugs out of the hands of consumers. But drug makers say the deals actually help bring generic drugs to market months or even years ahead of patent expiry 76% of the time. By contrast, Neas said, citing a study by the Royal Bank of Canada, when the cases go to trial, the generic drug company wins only 48% of the time, while there has been no case of a generic drug company delaying launch beyond the expiration of a branded drug’s patent.

As with the Actavis case, the payment may be monetary, but it also may come in the form of a licensing agreement or a promise by the branded drug maker not to launch a so-called "authorized generic," essentially the branded drug marketed under its generic name at a reduced price.

Neas said the FTC’s position was based on a study dating back to 2002 and didn’t take into account events that have happened since. "Their study, their methodology, their analysis [are] built on a house of cards," Neas said.

"This case will determine how an entire industry does business," he said.

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Rush to e-prescribing? Not so fast, say docs

BY Jim Frederick

You might want to make a note of this. On paper. Despite all the hoopla surrounding electronically generated prescriptions, e-communications and digitized patient recordkeeping over the past decade, most doctors still prefer to write prescriptions the old fashioned way, by hand, scrawled on a prescription pad and handed to the patient.

That was the finding of a recent study of physicians’ prescribing habits by point-of-prescription advertising company MediScripts. The company, which by its own description “puts brand messages at the center of the prescriber-patient engagement,” found that handwritten scripts still outpace e-prescribing by more than 60%. Drug Store News’ Alaric DeArment described the findings in a report on Feb. 28.

The high rate of paper-and-pen prescribing persists despite the fact that more than half of U.S.-based doctors have e-prescribing technology at their fingertips, according to MediScripts. “Until physicians gain comfort with the technology, many will continue to depend on time-trusted, easy-to-use pen and paper,” said CEO Erez Lapsker.

According to a report from Surescripts, the e-prescribing platform and service provider, nearly 36% of U.S. prescriptions dispensed were generated electronically in 2011, and doctors wrote 570 million e-prescriptions. But they wrote 916 million scripts by hand on MediScripts prescription pads alone, not to mention what was written by hand elsewhere. Total number of prescriptions dispensed in 2011 was 4.024 billion, but that includes refills that don’t generate a newly written script, remember.

“While e-prescribing holds great promise, physician preference for pad and pen remains strong,” MediScripts reported. “The high volume of MediScripts prescription pad use demonstrates continued physician preference with a longstanding method that enables health professionals to respond quickly to patient needs.”

It should be pointed out that MediScripts, which specializes in delivering targeted promotional messages via prescription pads, has a big dog in this fight. But its point is well taken: that doctors still feel comfortable wheeling across their little examining rooms on their swivel chairs and quickly scribbling out a script for the patient, “without having to fuss with complicated computer software,” to quote the company’s report.

If you’re a licensed pharmacist or a student doing an internship, please share your own experiences by clicking on the comment link. How much of an impact is e-prescribing having in your practice setting? Are paper scripts still the norm where you dispense, verify and counsel?

 

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