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Manufacturers look to gain health plan coverage for new class of ‘ORx’ meds

BY DSN STAFF

ALLEGAN, Mich. —There’s a new class of medicines being defined by such companies as Perrigo. They’re not behind-the-counter classifications, but more of an amalgated over-the-counter remedy and a doctor-prescribed medicine covered by third-party payers. Perrigo has coined the classification as “ORx.”

“A lot of the health plans start doing the math and [realize] it’s in their best interest financially to consider [coverage for OTC] products,” Ronald Schutt, VP OTC marketing consumer healthcare for Perrigo, told Drug Store News. Why pay $5 to $6 per pill for a prescription-only solution when the same medicine is available OTC at 72 cents per dose, or 53 cents per dose when offered as a store brand, Schutt asked.

The evolution of the prescribed OTC has been driven by the many blockbuster switches in the past decade—for example, proton-pump inhibitors Prilosec OTC and Prevacid 24HR, second-generation antihistamines Claritin and Zyrtec or the laxative MiraLax. Each of these medicines had a prescription-only patient base. And while parent pharmaceutical companies did their best to convert patients to a new Rx product—Prilosec OTC to Nexium, or Claritin to Clarinex—a large number of consumers stuck with their favorite brands as they migrated to OTC aisles. In 2008, doctors wrote more than 4.5 million prescriptions for Prilosec OTC that were covered by a prescription drug plan, according to Perrigo.

Since 2008, Perrigo has taken steps for its OTC products to be eligible for reimbursement from private payers, Medicare and Medicaid, Schutt said. Many retailers are pushing to have their store brands covered under private payers as well, Schutt added.

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Schnucks’ O’Brien to serve on Department of Agriculture advisory committee

BY Alaric DeArment

ST. LOUIS An executive from Schnuck Markets will serve on an advisory committee of the Department of Agriculture, Schnucks said this week.

Agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack announced that Schnucks VP produce and floral Mike O’Brien would be one of 25 people appointed to a two-year term on the USDA’s Fruit and Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee. O’Brien is also vice chairman of the Produce Marketing Association.

 

“I am honred to represent Schnuck Markets and the retail produce industry as a member of this committee,” O’Brien said. “I am looking forward to the opportunity to contribute and to make a difference for families across the nation.”

The committee, originally chartered in 2001, advises the secretary of agriculture on industry issues related to fruits and vegetables.

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Gilead commences phase 3 trial for single-tablet HIV treatment

BY Alaric DeArment

FOSTER CITY, Calif. Gilead Sciences has started a late-stage clinical trial of an investigational 4-in-1 treatment for HIV, the drug maker said.

Gilead announced the initiation of a phase 3 trial of its “Quad” HIV drug, a single-tablet treatment that combines elvitegravir, cobicistat, emtricitabine and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate. The study will compare the Quad regimen with the standard of care among adults with HIV-1 who have not taken antiretroviral treatments. The company is also investigating cobicistat as a standalone boosting agent for antiretroviral drugs.

“We are pleased to announce that the Quad phase 3 clinical program is underway,” Gilead EVP research and development and chief scientific officer Norbert Bischofberger said. “Efficacy and safety results from the phase 2 study suggest that the Quad may represent an important new option for patients with HIV.”

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