Mid-stage trial notes efficacy in investigational hepatitis C treatment
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.
PBGH reports cost-effective diabetes management in Pittsburgh
PITTSBURGH Patients diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in Pittsburgh were more likely than similar patients nationwide to receive A1c, blood glucose, serum cholesterol, ophthalmologic or urine glucose tests than those in other areas, but best-performing regions use the same management services at a higher rate, according to a report released Wednesday by the Pittsburgh Business Group on Health.
The report, based on data from 2007 and 2009, also found that the disease was managed in a more cost-effective manner in the Pittsburgh region, compared with other regions around the country. The report is meant to help employers assess whether their diabetes management strategies are working to change employees’ behavior, improve health and contain their healthcare costs.
“In only our second year of analyzing and comparing this data, we’re already seeing a positive trend in the management of diabetes in the Pittsburgh region,” PBGH executive director M. Christine Whipple said in a statement. “We’re looking forward to analyzing the 2009 data, which will give us three consecutive years of trends and enable us to say definitively what direction diabetes management is taking in the Pittsburgh region.”
Shoppers Drug Mart responds to Ontario’s revised generic pricing rules
ONTARIO Canadian retail pharmacy chain Shoppers Drug Mart has responded to the Ontario government’s decision to further drug reform measures in the province by reducing generic drug reimbursements for Ontario Drug Benefit Program beneficiaries.
The Ontario Liberal Government announced Wednesday that generic prescription drug prices for patients that benefit from the province’s drug benefit program will be reduced from the current level of 50% of the equivalent brand name price to 25% of the equivalent brand name price. The announcement also indicated that planned reductions in generic prescription drug pricing would also be extended to the private sector over a multi-year period. Shoppers Drug Mart said that such changes will impact its sales and profitability and the government “will further interfere in the commercial relationships between generic manufacturers and pharmacies” and that the government will play an increased role in the regulation of private sector drug benefit programs –– programs, Shoppers said, the government does not fund or pay for.
“These announced reductions in drug pricing and pharmacy reimbursement, on the heels of significant cuts just four years ago, will only serve to further commoditize healthcare and the practice of community pharmacy at a time when Ontarians need it most,” said Jurgen Schreiber, Shoppers Drug Mart president and CEO. “These announced changes reinforce our view that in the long-term, the successful players in retail pharmacy will be those with size, scale and an ability to leverage operating efficiencies. Shoppers Drug Mart, with the largest integrated pharmacy network in the country and the leading market share, will be challenged in the short-term to adjust to the changes announced [Wednesday], but remains well-positioned for the long-term.”
Discussions regarding changes to the Ontario Drug Benefit Program have been underway for more than nine months, Shoppers said.