PHARMACY

Mast Therapeutics gets orphan drug designation for experimental acute limb ischemia drug

BY Alaric DeArment

SAN DIEGO — The Food and Drug Administration has given special designation to a drug under development by Mast Therapeutics for a rare disease that restricts the flow of blood to the limbs.

Mast announced Wednesday that the FDA had granted its drug, MST-188, orphan drug designation as a treatment for acute limb ischemia. The FDA grants the designation to treatments for diseases that affect 200,000 or fewer people. Acute limb ischemia results from embolism or thrombosis and is estimated to affect 14 out of every 100,000 people in the United States each year, according to a 1999 study.

"This designation represents further progress in our development of MST-188 as an adjunct therapy for life-threatening conditions treated with existing thrombolytic agents, such as [tissue plasminogen activator]," Mast CEO Brian Culley said. "As we previously reported, we are on track to initiate a phase-2, clinical proof-of-concept study in acute limb ischemia in early 2014."

 

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Research: Patients using Walgreens’ HIV-specialized pharmacies more adherent to their medications

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens recently presented research from two retrospective cohort studies exploring HIV and comorbid medication adherence at HIV-specialized pharmacies and the implications for HIV patients with serious mental illness. The research, presented at the Cell-Lancet conference, "What Will it Take to Achieve an AIDS-free World?," in San Francisco Nov. 3-5, demonstrates that adherence to therapeutic treatments for HIV and associated comorbidities, such as serious mental illness, was significantly higher for patients using Walgreens HIV-specialized pharmacies than for patients using other Walgreens retail pharmacies.

“Medication adherence is vital to maintaining optimal health for patients with the HIV virus. Poor medication adherence can lead to treatment failure, resistance to therapy and increased mortality and is one of the greatest and most costly barriers in treating illness today,” Janeen DuChane, senior director of clinical outcomes and analytics, Walgreens stated. “By developing specialized patient support programs, we can improve adherence for HIV patients, better serve HIV populations and reduce medical costs.” 

In examining the differences in medication adherence for patients using Walgreens HIV-specialized pharmacies and those using other Walgreens retail pharmacies, researchers confirmed that HIV patients utilizing the specialized pharmacies were more adherent to their anti-retroviral and comorbid therapies. The study found that the mean proportion of days covered for patients using Walgreens HIV-specialized pharmacies was significantly higher than for patients using other Walgreens retail pharmacies. 

For patients taking angiotensin converting enzyme or angiotensin receptor blocker (drugs used to treat hypertension), Walgreens HIV-specialized pharmacy users had a significantly higher mean proportion of days covered of 82.6% compared with 79.6% in patients using other Walgreens retail pharmacies. 

Among patients taking statins (drugs used to treat high cholesterol), Walgreens HIV-specialized pharmacy users also had a higher mean proportion of days covered of 83.7% than those using other Walgreens retail pharmacies (81.3%).

In a separate study, Walgreens researchers conducted a retrospective data analysis of HIV patients with serious mental illness, a group that often experience challenges associated with the willingness and ability to take medication as prescribed which can contribute to a two-fold increase in hospitalization costs. Nearly 30% of HIV patients assessed had an indication of serious mental illness comorbidity and demonstrated increased medication adherence2 when utilizing a Walgreens HIV-specialized pharmacy. Among HIV patients with serious mental illness who exclusively used HIV-specialized pharmacies, 32.7% were adherent to their anti-retroviral therapy versus 19.4% for HIV patients with serious mental illness using other Walgreens retail pharmacies.

"Both studies validate the benefit of patient medication adherence associated with HIV-specialized pharmacies and underscore Walgreens commitment to be a part of the solution to end AIDS," Walgreens stated in a release. "Walgreens award-winning HIV-specialized pharmacies provide education, counseling, testing and treatment through its more than 2,000 HIV-trained pharmacists at more than 700 locations."

 

 

 

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Patients expect personalized approach to health care, study finds

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — As patients face higher out-of-pocket costs for drugs and more complex treatment plans, they expect greater focus on their needs, like they would get from retail, which creates new opportunities for drug manufacturers, according to a new report from PwC.

The report, by PwC’s Health Research Institute, found that drug companies would need to pursue a more sophisticated patient segmentation strategy, focused more on the customer, resulting in patients who "own" their treatment plans and better manage their conditions. the report was based on a survey of more than 700 U.S. consumers regarding their preferences and behavior in selection and use of drug treatments.

"Patients are exerting greater control over their health care, and they want their medication experience to be effective, personalized and meaningful," PwC principal Karla Anderson said. "If their expectations are met, they’re more likely to follow the proper course of treatment and remain engaged with customers far longer."

Consumers, the report found, expect the same treatment they receive in other settings, such as retail, banking and travel. They are willing to pay 19% more for a "no wait time" prescription, while affluent baby boomers and Generation Xers with chronic conditions will pay 52% more.

Other findings include that treatment costs are the top reason why people stop taking medications; that baby boomers with multiple chronic conditions have less medication adherence than average, but are willing to address it, and some 41% want do-it-yourself pharmacy health screening stations, while 37% want a mobile app to monitor vitals and provide contextual understanding of their prescriptions. Meanwhile, almost all respondents said drug companies did not play a role in their diagnosis and treatment decisions, suggesting that current pharmaceutical education and communication had limited effect. 

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