PHARMACY

Meijer offering free metformin to customers

BY Allison Cerra

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. Meijer announced plans Monday to begin offering metformin immediate release, one of the most commonly prescribed treatments for Type 2 diabetes, at no cost to those with a prescription.

Meijer’s program — which will include doses prescribed in 500-mg, 850-mg and 1,000-mg tablets — joins other Meijer healthy-living initiatives designed to provide no-cost medicine to shoppers, including such initiatives as free children’s antibiotics and prenatal vitamins for women with a prescription. To date, Meijer has filled more than 5 million free antibiotic prescriptions, and more than 500,000 prescriptions for free prenatal vitamins. Combined, Meijer has provided a total cost savings to consumers of more than $90 million.

Meijer is one of several store chains that recently has announced free metformin offerings for customers. Last month, Publix launched a multifaceted program designed to assist customers and associates living with diabetes.

“Meijer is pleased to add metformin immediate release to our free medication program,” said Effie Steele, clinical services coordinator for the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based retailer. “As our population ages, Type 2 diabetes cases continue to grow. Adding metformin immediate release to Meijer’s free medication program, while providing other ways to manage diabetes through the various healthy living solutions offered in our stores, reinforces our commitment to promote healthy lifestyles for all of our customers.”

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Mid-stage trial notes efficacy in investigational hepatitis C treatment

BY Alaric DeArment

CORK, Ireland Patients with chronic genotype 1 hepatitis C fared better when given an investigational drug developed by Johnson & Johnson division Tibotec and Vertex Pharmaceuticals than when given the standard therapy after they had failed previous treatments, according to results of a mid-stage trial published Thursday.

The results of the 453-patient, phase 2 “PROVE3” trial, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that regimens based on the drug telaprevir worked better than other drugs at keeping the virus undetectable in the bloodstream. Patients who achieve undetectability of the virus, also known as sustained virologic response, or SVR, are considered cured. The current standard of care for patients is Genentech’s Pegasys (peginterferon alfa-2a) combined with Merck & Co.’s Rebetol (ribavirin), which also is available as a generic.

“People with HCV who fail to achieve SVR after initial treatment typically don’t succeed when they are re-treated,” study investigator and Hannover, Germany-based Hepatology and Endocrinology Medical School professor Michael Manns said. “This study shows that telaprevir may provide a much-needed new therapeutic option for patients undergoing a second round of treatment.”

The patients were divided into four groups: 115 who took telaprevir, Pegasys and ribavirin for three months followed by Pegasys and ribavirin with placebo for another three; 113 who took telaprevir, Pegasys and ribavirin for six months followed by Pegasys and ribavirin alone for another six; 111 who took telaprevir and Pegasys for six months; and a control group of 114 who took Pegasys, ribavirin and placebo for six months, followed by Pegasys and ribavirin for another six.

Those who took telaprevir and ribavirin together achieved SVR at rates of more than 50%, compared with 24% and 14% in the telaprevir with Pegasys group and the control group, respectively. Among patients who had previously relapsed, those who took telaprevir, Pegasys and ribavirin had SVR rates of 69% to 76%, compared with 42% and 20% in the non-ribavirin and control groups, respectively. Among patients who had not responded to previous therapies, those who took all three drugs had SVR rates of 38% to 39%, compared with 11% in the non-ribavirin group and 9% in the control group.

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Report: Take Care Health Systems seeks joint ventures with hospitals

BY Antoinette Alexander

NEW YORK In an effort to further expand its retail-based clinic business, Walgreens’ Take Care Health Systems reportedly is considering financial joint ventures with hospitals, according to a Dow Jones Newswires report.

"We’re getting a lot of interest from hospital systems," Take Care Health Systems CEO Peter Miller told Down Jones Newswires in an interview.

Miller declined to elaborate but said such partnerships could take the form of joint ventures, franchises or other business models where hospitals may assume some of the risk associated with a retail-based clinic.

Miller was quoted as saying that the pacts would have to create a "winning" situation for both parties and that such potential deals would help its Take Care Clinics expand from the existing 359 locations in 19 states.

 

Meanwhile, Andrew Sussman, president of MinuteClinic, told Dow Jones Newswires that, while it is interested in expanding its electronic record sharing and other patient-care activities with more hospitals, it isn’t interested in financial partnerships with hospitals systems for its clinics.

 

 

Walmart, which currently has 74 independently operated in-store clinics, noted that it has been contacted by more than 400 hospitals and health systems nationwide and is currently in talks with "dozens" of operators, Dow Jones Newswires reported.

 

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