PHARMACY

Ky. WellCare, Ky. Pharmacists Assn. team on naloxone access

BY David Salazar
TAMPA, Fla. and LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Two Kentucky health organizations have teamed up in an effort to provide naloxone to patients who need it. WellCare Kentucky — a subsidiary of WellCare Health Plans — is making 1,000 twist-on naloxone nasal atomizers available for free, and pharmacists will provide them to Medicaid recipients and patients who don’t have insurance without a prescription, to be given to parents, spouses, roommates or friends to administer in case of an emergency. 
 
“WellCare and the Kentucky Pharmacists Association are being proactive in helping people battle opioid addiction,” WellCare SVP, division president and Medicaid product Kelly Munson said. “We believe in educating toward prevention, assisting and treating when needed, and being ready in cases of emergency.”
 
The atomizers are foam cones that can twist onto the naloxone syringe and allows the drug to be delivered as a nasal spray rather than as an injection. Pharmacists began picking up the atomizers Friday in Louisville. Medicaid recipients and individuals without insurance who want to receive a take-home naloxone with an atomizer can check with their local pharmacy for availability, and those who don’t receive Medicaid benefits can check with their health insurer for information about how to get naloxone.
 
“It's important for family and friends of people struggling with opioid addiction, especially those who are recovering, to have access to naloxone in an easy-to-use application,” Kentucky Pharmacists Association president Chris Clifton said. “We are grateful to WellCare of Kentucky for their generous contribution, which absolutely can save lives.”
 
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Teva launches generic Lescol

BY David Salazar
NORTH WALES, Pa. — Teva Pharmaceuticals on Thursday announced the launch of its generic Lescol XL (fluvastatin sodium) extended-release tablets. The drug is indicated to treat high cholesterol and triglycerides. 
 
“Our customers count on Teva for a continuous supply of new generic products,” Teva SVP and general manager U.S. generics Maureen Cavanaugh said. “With the launch of Fluvastatin Sodium Extended-Release Tablets, we add another quality product to our broad line of affordable generic pharmaceuticals.”
 
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IMS Institute study examines growth of global oncology market

BY David Salazar
PARSIPPANY, N.J. — A new report from the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics is taking a look at the growth the oncology market saw in 2015, fueled by a record number of innovative new cancer treatments. The global oncology market grew to $107 billion in 2015, and there are currently more than 20 types of tumors are being treated by one or more of the 70 new treatments introduced in the last 5 years. The report also looks forward to 2020 while highlighting the ways that growth in cancer treatments are changing the healthcare landscape in terms of cost and distribution as a result of increasing numbers of targeted therapies. 
 
“The new science redefining cancer as a large number of narrowly defined diseases and yielding therapeutic options for an expanding number of patients is rapidly transforming the oncology treatment landscape,” IMS Health SVP and IMS Institute executive director Murray Aitken said “Most health systems are struggling to adapt and embrace this evolution—including the regulatory systems, skilled professionals, diagnostic and treatment infrastructures, and financing mechanisms that are required to serve the needs of cancer patients around the world.”
 
When it comes to costs, spending growth between years has been increasing for years, with growth in the U.S. rising from 2% in 2011 to 13.9% in 2015 in on a constant-dollar basis, measured using ex-manufacturer prices without off-invoice discounts, rebates or patient access programs. The United States now accounts for some 45% fo the total global oncology market, up from 39% in 2011 — a trend the report attributes to increasing numbers of therapies and the strength of the U.S. dollar.  And oncology drugs now make up 11.5% of total drug costs, an increase over 2011 when they made up 10.5% of total costs. 
 
When it comes to distribution of drugs, in the U.S. much of the costs have increased rapidly in retail channels — unlike Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom, where hospitals have been bearing the brunt of cost increases. The report attributes this to the rise in targeted therapies, in particular oral therapies that don’t need to be administered in a physician’s office or outpatient facility. As a result, cancer drugs dispensed through the retail channel make up about one-third of total costs — up from 25% 10 years ago, and the increase in oral formulations is also driving spending growth, as some 40% of targeted therapy costs go to oral formulations, the report said. 
 
Other trends in the U.S. oncology space include a 19% increase in the total treatment cost for patients with a cancer diagnosis receiving active treatment who have a commercial insurance plan, reaching $58,000. And some patients are spending more out of their pockets for the more expensive treatments. In 2014, patients with commercial insurance receiving injection or infusion drugs paid more than $7,000 of the costs on average, compared to $3,000 for patients taking oral medications. But savings plans are helping curb this, as more than 25% of the cost of prescriptions filled by patients with commercial insurance in the retail channel in 2015 were lessened by a coupon or manufacturer’s cost offset program — an increase over the 5% of prescriptions whose costs were offset in the retail channel in 2011. 
 
Looking forward, the IMS Institute projects for a high rate of innovation to continue through 2020. There are currently more than 500 companies actively pursuing oncology drug development globally, advancing almost 600 new molecules through late-stage clinical development with particular focus on non-small cell lung cancer, breast cancer, as well as breast, prostate, ovarian and colorectal cancers. Globally this means a projected growth of between 7.%% and 11.5% through 2020, leading the market to reach $150 billion. 
 
“These challenges demand urgent attention in light of the strong near-term pipeline of clinically distinctive therapies, and new programs such as the U.S. government’s ‘cancer moon shot’ that are galvanizing research efforts to change the trajectory of cancer,” Aitken said. 
 
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