Medical marijuana social network closes seed-funding deal
DENVER — A new mobile app-driven social network devoted to medical marijuana has attracted $150,000 in seed money from an investment group.
MassRoots announced Thursday that it had closed the seed investment from members of the ArcView Group. The social network, launched in July 2013, has more than 25,000 active users. MassRoots allows users to maintain their privacy and anonymity by not requiring their name, email or phone number to join.
"By creating a network for the cannabis community, MassRoots is connecting tens of thousands of marijuana consumers, building a marketing and distribution channel for legal cannabis and empowering the legalization movement itself," MassRoots cofounder Isaac Dietrich said. "In the process, we are creating a unique and valuable company that will deliver substantial returns to its shareholders."
MassRoots describes itself as an ancillary business that never touches marijuana itself, which it said makes it a less risky investment than a dispensary or grow operation. Currently, 20 states and the District of Columbia allow for medical use of marijuana; another, Maryland, does not allow it, but allows medical use as a court defense. Meanwhile, Colorado and Washington have legalized recreational use of marijuana, with Colorado’s law taking effect on Wednesday.
seed money.... grin.
Kroger offers prescriptions to health exchange enrollees who have not received ID cards
CINCINNATI — The Kroger Co. has joined the list of retailers offering supplies of prescription drugs at no upfront cost to customers who have enrolled in the health insurance marketplaces, but have yet to receive an identification number.
The company announced Thursday that it would offer up to a 30-day supply of certain prescription drugs to customers who provide confirmation of their enrollment at one of the retailer’s pharmacies.
"Every January, our pharmacists and technicians help customers navigate through new plan transitions," Kroger VP pharmacy Lincoln Lutz said. "Our pharmacists are once again available to answer questions and provide information about the new insurance plans. And, to ensure that our customers can get their medications without interruption, we are offering to fill certain prescriptions at no upfront cost for up to 30 days for customers who’ve signed up for the public health exchanges but have not yet received their plan ID card."
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More than half of drugs approved in 2013 were specialty, according to FDA
NEW YORK — The number of new drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration fell by more than 30% in 2013 compared with 2012, according to agency records.
In total, 2013 saw the approval of 27 new drugs, down from 39 in 2012. Of the newly approved drugs, 14 were specialty drugs for serious disease states such as chronic viral infections, cancers, autoimmune diseases and genetic disorders. Meanwhile, two new drugs were approved for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and two were approved for Type 2 diabetes. Other new drugs were approved for such conditions as depression, epilepsy, athlete’s foot and menopause, among other conditions.
Highlights for the year include Gilead Sciences’ Sovaldi (sofosbuvir), part of a new generation of hepatitis C drugs that promises to greatly reduce the time required for treatment, while also carrying a high cost that could prompt pharmacy benefit managers like Express Scripts to start a "price war" in order to keep costs down. Another was Biogen Idec’s Tecfidera (dimethyl fumarate), a capsule for multiple sclerosis; according to some analysts, while injectable drugs for MS continue to dominate the market, orally administered drugs have been gaining on them, with Tecfidera in particular seeing a large increase in usage among patients.
Analysts have long forecast that specialty drugs would come to dominate new drug approvals as treatments for conditions like cardiovascular disease and psychiatric disorders become increasingly commoditized due to the growth of generics, which now account for about 84% of all prescriptions dispensed in the United States, according to IMS Health.
While the number of new drugs is a steep drop from 2012, it exceeds the annual total of new drugs approved between 2005 and 2010; in 2007, the FDA only approved 18 new drugs. In a report on the new drug approvals for 2012, the agency noted that despite a higher number of approvals that year and the year before, the number of applications for new drugs received by the agency had not seen a significant or consistent increase.
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