PHARMACY

McKesson completes OTN integration; renames unit ‘McKesson Specialty Care Solutions’

BY Jenna Duncan

SAN FRANCISCO McKesson Co. has announced the new name of its specialty pharmaceutical business unit: “McKesson Specialty Care Solutions.” This arm of McKesson will now cover McKesson Specialty and the recently acquired Oncology Therapeutics Network. McKesson is now the No. 1 rheumatology pharmaceuticals distributor, as well as the second biggest specialty pharmaceutical distributor in the United States.

“Our new name reflects the complete spectrum of services we provide to the specialty pharmaceutical market, which is the fastest-growing and most dynamic segment of healthcare today. … With the integration of OTN complete, we are aligned to provide superior support to every stakeholder in the specialty healthcare continuum, from biotech and pharmaceutical manufacturers, to oncology and other specialty physician practices, to payers,” Patrick Blake, McKesson Specialty Care Solutions president, said.

McKesson also acquired Onmark, a group purchasing organization that focuses on community-based oncology. McKesson, which has acquired the National Oncology Alliance in 2006, successfully folded NOA and Onmark into a single GPO with the Onmark banner. More than 2,700 member practices and 4,700 physicians are now represented by the merger.

With its recent acquisitions, McKesson has also been growing its technology portfolio, adding OTN’s proprietary Lynx technology platform which will be integrated with TotalView reimbursement program for manufacturers and providers.

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Rheumatoid arthritis drugs don’t affect cancer risk, researchers find

BY Alaric DeArment

CHICAGO Spanish researchers have found that drugs for rheumatoid arthritis called TNF blockers don’t appear to increase the risk of cancer, the researchers announced Saturday.

The drugs block a protein called the tumor necrosis factor, which is part of the immune system and is linked to arthritic inflammation. Some studies have shown that they increase the risk of cancer because they suppress the immune system, but the researchers did not find a statistical difference between the two groups of patients studied.

The research included one group of 4,500 people who took TNF blockers between 2001 and 2007, and another that included data from between 1999 and 2005 from almost 800 people who did not take the drugs.

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FDA approves Barr extended-cycle oral contraceptive

BY Alaric DeArment

MONTVALE, N.J. The Food and Drug Administration has approved a Barr Pharmaceuticals subsidiary’s application for a new oral contraceptive, Barr said Monday.

The FDA approved Duramed Pharmaceuticals’ drug LoSeasonique (levonorgestrel/ethinyl estradiol tablets and ethynyl estradiol tablets).

Barr said the drug is the first lower-dose, extended-cycle oral contraceptive. Under the extended-cycle regimen, women take combination tablets containing 0.1 mg of levonorgestrel and 0.02 mg of ethinyl estradiol for 84 consecutive days, followed by tablets containing 0.01 mg of ethinyl estradiol for seven days. The regimen is designed to reduce the number of withdrawal bleeding periods from 13 to four per year.

“As a leader in women’s health, Duramed is committed to continuing to develop new products that provide women a choice as they discuss birth control options with their healthcare providers,” Duramed chief executive officer Fred Wilkinson said.

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