PHARMACY

Medco launches Part D program to increase e-prescribing, study results

BY Adam Kraemer

FRANKLIN LAKES, N.J. Medco Health Solutions announced Tuesday a nationwide initiative to encourage and assist physicians involved in Medicare Part D to switch to e-prescribing from handwritten prescriptions.

The company also intends to use the Medicare prescription drug program to assess the full impact of e-prescribing on such issues as patient safety and generic drug use, the first study of its kind, according to Medco. “There is strong evidence that e-prescribing reduces medication errors and increases the use of generic drugs and other lower-cost medication options. We are proud that Medco will be the first Medicare prescription drug plan to research its impact on the Medicare population,” said John Driscoll, president of new markets at Medco. “The program is designed to overcome the cost barriers that have prevented widespread physician adoption of this technology and to verify the benefits of e-prescribing for Medicare Part D beneficiaries.”

The program and study come at just the right time, as Congress is currently considering a bill that would tie physicians’ Medicare payments to their use of e-prescribing technology. Medco intends initially to focus on 500 physicians who work with patients on Medco’s own Medicare plan. The company will be partnering with RxNT, a leading provider of the technology, which will be assisting the doctors with the change-over from handwritten prescriptions. RxNT will provide these physicians with free RxNT e-prescribing software and training.

The study, to be conducted over a six-month period, will compare the e-prescribing physicians’ rate of generic drug dispensing, formulary compliance and generated safety alerts with those of a 500-doctor control group who did not receive the software or training. Ultimately, Medco expects to include 2,000 physicians in the study, the company said.

Among the considerations that inspired the Congressional incentive were estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that suggested e-prescribing could eliminate as many as two million harmful drug events each year, as physicians could be alerted of risks related to drug interactions and other potential medication errors.

Among results of a prior e-prescribing effort by Medco, the Southeast Michigan ePrescribing Initiative:

  • A severe or moderate drug-to-drug alert was sent to physicians for more than 1 million prescriptions (33 percent), resulting in nearly 423,000 (41 percent) of those prescriptions being changed or canceled by the prescribing doctor;
  • More than 100,000 medication allergy alerts were presented, of which more than 41,000 (41 percent) were acted upon; and
  • When a formulary alert was presented, 39 percent of the time the physician changed the prescription to comply with formulary requirements.

“The SEMI program results show that e-prescribing can have a big impact on patient safety and overall health care costs,” stated Driscoll. “Medicare Part D provides the right opportunity to introduce many more physicians to e-prescribing, a key step toward improving patient safety for this critical segment of the population and reducing the cost of prescription health care in the Medicare program.”

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FDA approves two new APP generic medications

BY Diana Alickaj

SCHAUMBURG, Ill. The Food and Drug Administration approved APP Pharmaceuticals’ new drug applications for caffeine citrate oral solution at 20 milligrams/milliliter and for bleomycin sulfate for injection.

Caffeine citrate oral solution, the generic version of Bedford Labs’ Cafcin, is a treatment used for premature infants who have apnea, a condition where babies stop breathing during sleep for a brief amount of time, according to published reports.

Bleomycin is a treatment for cancer, a generic of Bristol-Myer’s Blenoxane, although it works in combination with other medicines. As a result of the recent FDA approval, APP Pharma stock increased to $10.33, a three-cent increase per share.

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Shares of Labopharm rise with positive Trazodone study

BY Diana Alickaj

NEW YORK Positive results on Trazodone, a once-daily anti-depressant pill, caused shares of Labopharm to rise on Friday.

According to published reports, Trazodone is a pill whose main goal is to improve a patient’s quality of sleep. The study reveals that this goal was met, with 412 patients showing that a once-daily version is effective and also inhibits a patient from awaking as frequently during the night.

The stock for Labopharm rose by 18.7 percent, about 37 cents, increasing the stock price to $2.35 in morning trading. Over the past year, the stock has ranged between 63 cents and $7.21.

The Food And Drug Administration already approved the twice-daily version of Trazodone, and Labopharm is planning to file a new drug application for its newest version of Trazodone with the FDA later in the year.

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