PHARMACY

J&J completes Novira Therapeutics acquisition

BY David Salazar

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — Johnson & Johnson on Friday announced that it had completed its acquisition of clinical biopharma company Novira Therapeutics. The terms of the transaction, which was announced Nov. 4, were not disclosed. 
 
Novira, which develops innovative treatments for chronic hepatitis B, will now be part of Janssen Pharmaceuticals’ Infectious Diseases and Vaccines Therapeutic Area. The lead candidate among Novira’s portfolio is NVR 3-778. 
 
“We are exploring several approaches in pursuit of a functional cure for this insidious disease,” Janssen’s global head of research and development William Hait said. “Bringing together NVR 3-778 with our own internal discoveries we will leverage our vast experience in viral diseases to develop potentially transformational medicines for HBV patients.”
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CDC: Only half of patients eligible for statin therapy actually taking a statin

BY Michael Johnsen

ATLANTA — More than a third of American adults are eligible to take cholesterol-lowering medications under the current guidelines or were already taking them – but nearly half of them are not, according to a report by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers published in last week's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Blacks and Mexican Americans are less likely than whites to be taking cholesterol-lowering medications, the report noted.
 
“Nearly 800,000 people die in the U.S. each year from cardiovascular diseases – that’s one in every three deaths – and high cholesterol continues to be a major risk factor,” stated Carla Mercado, a scientist in CDC’s Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention. “This study reveals opportunities to reduce existing disparities through targeted patient education and cholesterol management programs.”
 
CDC researchers examined data from the 2005-2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys. Overall, 36.7% of U.S. adults – 78.1 million people age 21 or older – were eligible for cholesterol-lowering medication or already taking it. Within this group, 55.5% were currently taking cholesterol-lowering medication and 46.6% reported making lifestyle changes; 37.1% reported making lifestyle modifications and taking medication, and 35.5% reported doing neither.
 
Gender, race, and ethnicity made a difference. Of:
 
  • 40.8% of men eligible for or already on medication, 52.9% were taking medications;
  • 32.9% of women eligible for or already on medication, 58.6% were taking medications;
  • 24.2% of Mexican-Americans eligible for or already on medication, 47.1% were taking medications;
  • 39.5% of blacks eligible for or already on medication, 46% were taking medications; and
  • 38.4% of whites eligible for or already on medication, 58% were taking medications.
Blacks who did not have a routine place for health care had the lowest rate (5.7%) of taking recommended cholesterol-lowering medication. People who said they already had adopted a heart-healthy lifestyle (about 80%) were the group most likely to be taking cholesterol-lowering medication.
 
While the study included people taking all forms of cholesterol-lowering medication, nearly 90% of those receiving medication were taking a statin drug.
 
Data from 2007 through 2014 show a decline in the number of Americans with high blood levels of cholesterol. There also has been a recent increase in the use of cholesterol-lowering medications. But a high blood level of LDL cholesterol – also known as “bad” cholesterol – remains a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke in the United States.
 
Getting 65% of Americans to manage their high levels of LDL cholesterol by 2017 is one of the major targets of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Million Hearts initiative to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes.
 
As many as 78.1 million Americans were already taking or are eligible for cholesterol-lowering medication. 
 
The American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association recommend cholesterol-lowering medication for four groups of adults:
 
  • People with heart disease, a prior heart attack or some types of stroke, or angina;
  • People with LDL cholesterol levels of 190 mg/dL or more;
  • People ages 40 to 75 with diabetes and LDL cholesterol levels of 70-189 mg/dL; and
  • People ages 40-75 with LDL cholesterol levels of 70-189 mg/dL and an estimated 10-year risk of heart disease of 7.5% or more.
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McKesson IDs 5 2016 trends for hospital/health system pharmacies

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW ORLEANS — The McKesson Pharmacy Optimization team, a group of advisors that work with health systems to help elevate the value that pharmacy brings to the health system, has identified the top five trends that will impact hospital and health system pharmacies in 2016. 
 
“The growing movement toward value-based reimbursement continues to have tremendous impact on health systems as they increasingly look to pharmacy as a source of revenue growth," stated Mark Eastham, SVP and general manager McKesson Pharmacy Optimization. "This need for health system pharmacies to identify new initiatives that can increase revenue without compromising patient outcomes or safety is indicative of key trends and opportunities facing health system pharmacies in the coming year.” 
 
The five 2016 health system pharmacy trends include:
 
  1. Continued Growth in Specialty Market: The growth in specialty pharmaceuticals spend continues to outpace the growth in the overall pharmaceutical market and is the top spend category for health systems pharmacies. As more biosimilars reach the market, specialty pharmaceuticals will start to face increased competition, which will have a positive impact on pharmacies’ cost reduction efforts. However, health systems treating patients in the ambulatory setting and reimbursed through the average sales price model will see a corresponding drop in revenue. While the growth of limited networks and exclusive distribution channels for many specialty pharmaceuticals challenge health systems’ continuity of care initiatives, opportunities still exist for those that understand and can demonstrate the unique clinical and operational competencies and expertise required for specialty pharmacy;
     
  2. Health System Pharmacy Seen as a Revenue and Margin Generator: Managing costs will always be important; however, health systems’ leaders are increasingly looking at the pharmacy as more of a revenue and margin generator and less as a cost center. Whether still operating in a fee-for-service environment or shifting to a performance or value-based reimbursement model, the pharmacy can have significant impact on the overall P&L of a health system by focusing on incremental revenue opportunities such as ambulatory, specialty and mail-order pharmacy services. Not only does an integrated pharmacy care model impact the bottom line; the focus on optimal medication therapy management in the ambulatory care setting can help health systems improve continuity of care and medication adherence, and reduce readmissions;
     
  3. Industry Consolidation Increasing Need for Supply Chain Efficiency: In 2015, there has continued to be significant consolidation among hospitals and health systems, pharmaceutical manufacturers, retail pharmacy chains, and payers. Since nearly half of a hospital’s total operating expenses are for supplies, drugs and consumables, large health systems are looking for better integration and efficiency across the supply chain. An efficient pharmacy supply chain that is scaled properly can help streamline workflow, improve productivity and enable tighter inventory management. With an enterprise-wide analysis of total supply spend and patient utilization and outcomes, health system pharmacies can improve network access, analyze contract performance and improve payer performance;
     
  4. Increasing Oversight of 340B Program: The Health Resources and Services Administration proposed 340B Omnibus Guidance recently underwent public comment. Also known as the Mega-Guidance, it contains clarifications of existing 340B program elements such as patient definition, covered outpatient drugs and contract pharmacy. There are also several new areas covered including specialty pharmacy and limited distribution arrangements. While the final guidance has not yet been promulgated by HRSA, all health systems — even well-established, successful 340B health systems and pharmacies — should conduct a comprehensive evaluation of their current programs to identify if the guidance will create any gaps in their program and develop action plans to address the potential business impact of these changes; and
     
  5. Leveraging Pharmacy Analytics to Make Strategic Business Decisions: Big Data is still a buzzword across healthcare and other industries. Integrating comprehensive pharmacy analytics to track and monitor drug spend and use, patient care, and quality is a top priority for health systems. Organizations can use this information to make better financial, clinical and operational decisions and drive improved outcomes. Lack of connectivity or interoperability of health records between pharmacy and other providers can be a major patient safety issue and continues to plague the industry overall. However, initiatives such as the Commonwell Health Alliance are making progress to make healthcare data available and accessible to providers across care settings.
McKesson will be discussing these trends with health systems pharmacy leaders at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists Midyear Clinical Meeting 2015 here.
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