PHARMACY

Older physicians less likely to prescribe generic medications

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — While a majority of physicians are comfortable with generic medications, there is a small segment who still have negative perceptions about the effectiveness and quality of generic drugs, and that may lead to doctors prescribing unnecessarily expensive medications, according to a new study by researchers at Harvard University, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and CVS Caremark.

In a study published in the Annals of Pharmacotherapy, the researchers stated, "Overall, we found that the majority of physicians are comfortable with the efficacy of generic medications and are comfortable using generics themselves. However, there is a meaningful proportion who express concerns about generics. These beliefs could represent an important barrier to greater generic use and could contribute to elevated prescription costs for patients, insurance providers and society."

According to the study, 23% of doctors have negative perceptions of the effectiveness and quality of generic medications.

"While there are many studies about how consumers and patients view generics, we thought it would be important to also look at the perception of generics by prescribers, because understanding the physician’s perception can help us determine if there are other potential barriers to the greater use of generics," stated lead author of the study William Shrank of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard. "We don’t have clear insight as to what might influence a prescriber’s behavior, and as we look to develop programs to encourage more cost-effective pharmacy care, this is an area industry and policy-makers should be reviewing. We know that if we help patients access less expensive medications, they are more likely to take them."

The researchers surveyed more than 2,700 physicians and received 506 responses from prescribers representing both specialists and general practitioners. More than 60% of the physicians surveyed were between ages 35 and 54 years, with physicians older than 55 years representing about 30% of the survey group; physicians ages 25 to 34 years made up 9% of the respondents. Physicians ages 55 years or older were 3.3 times more likely to have negative perceptions about generics than those between ages 25 and 34 years.

While the doctors said they were aware some patients struggle with the costs of medications, there was little relationship between the doctor’s perception of cost burden and their perceptions of generics, according to researchers.

In addition, when asked how they were informed about the market entry of a generic medication, 75% said they received their information from the pharmaceutical representatives. Other sources of information included medical journals (42%), colleagues (40%) and pharmaceutical mailings and literature (38%).

The researchers also indicated that the study was limited by the sample that was surveyed. While the sample was drawn from a large source, the response rate was low; physicians who did respond may have differed from the overall population.

"Payers and policy-makers attempting to stimulate cost-effective medication use should consider educating physicians, particularly older ones, to improve their comfort with generics," the study concluded.

The study is a product of CVS Caremark’s previously announced three-year collaboration with Harvard University and Brigham and Women’s Hospital to research pharmacy claims data to better understand patient behavior, particularly around medication adherence.

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PHARMACY

Navarro Discount Pharmacies broadens reach

BY Antoinette Alexander

MIAMI — Navarro Discount Pharmacies has signed a lease for a new 14,000-sq.-ft. store in north Miami. With a store opening planned for the summer of 2011, the newest store will be the company’s 29th location and its first new store opening since its airport location opened in 2007.

The move is part of the company’s three-year growth plan, which includes adding as many as 22 new store locations in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties over the next three years, as well as remodeling up to five existing locations annually. Three existing stores, including Hialeah Gardens, were remodeled in the last 12 months.

"Being in north Miami will allow us to reach out to introduce our successful community pharmacy and discount model to additional ethnic groups and expand our loyal customer base," stated Steve Kaczynski, CEO of Navarro Discount Pharmacies.

According to the retailer, new store and existing store renovations include new merchandise layout, new colors, enhanced signage and improved services for customers, such as a pediatric pharmacy for busy parents, free compounding pharmacy services, a free Diabetes Club for adults and children with diabetes, and free prescription delivery for all customers.

Other parts of Navarro’s overall growth plan include identifying new wholesale partnerships and business development opportunities, as well as adding e-commerce capabilities to its website for the Hispanic population that lives outside of southern Florida.

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BI, Lilly form strategic partnership for diabetes drugs

BY Alaric DeArment

INDIANAPOLIS — U.S. drug maker Eli Lilly and German drug maker Boehringer Ingelheim will collaborate to develop drugs for diabetes, the companies said Tuesday.

The agreement centers around investigative drugs currently in mid- to late-stage clinical development, including two oral drugs made by BI, BI10773 and linagliptin, and two basal insulin analogues made by Lilly, LY2605541 and LY2963016. The deal also includes options to develop and commercialize a Lilly monoclonal antibody.

Under the agreement, Lilly will pay BI $389.1 million, and BI will be eligible to receive up to $810.8 million in milestone payments related to linagliptin and BI10773. Lilly will be eligible to receive up to $650 million in milestone payments related to its two insulin analogues. If the two companies decide to develop the monoclonal antibody, Lilly could receive an additional $525 million in milestone payments.

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