HEALTH

Report: FDA may consider strengthening generic drug regulations

BY Alaric DeArment

BETHESDA, Md. The Food and Drug Administration could decide that some generic drugs are not equivalent to their branded counterparts, according to published reports.

 

Bloomberg reported FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research director Janet Woodcock as saying in an interview that the agency was considering strengthening regulations on some generic drugs because some did not appear to work as well as the branded versions, based on statements from some patients and generic drug company employees. Woodcock had just given a speech at a technical conference organized by the FDA and the Generic Pharmaceutical Association.

 

 

In 2008, controversy arose amid anecdotal reports that patients taking generic drugs for epilepsy had experienced breakthrough seizures that they had not experienced while taking the branded versions of the drugs. That gave rise to the introduction of generic “carve-out” legislation in 35 states that would have placed restrictions on when a generic drug can be used, though only three of them passed.

 

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Good Neighbor Pharmacy donates funds to pharmacy schools

BY Alaric DeArment

VALLEY FORGE, Pa. AmerisourceBergen and its community pharmacy network program, Good Neighbor Pharmacy, will fund several education and scholarship programs for pharmacy students, the company said Wednesday.

AmerisourceBergen said the funding, pledged over the last few weeks, brought the total amount of money given to support the programs to more than $2 million.

“AmerisourceBergen is committed to supporting the practice of community pharmacy,” president and CEO Dave Yost said. “Community-based pharmacists are critical members of the evolving U.S. healthcare system and the most accessible professional of the patient’s healthcare team. We are pleased to encourage students to consider community pharmacy and retail entrepreneurship, and to continue this tradition of supportive care.”

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In study, insurer shows cost benefits of smarter health decisions by patients

BY Jim Frederick

BLOOMFIELD, Conn. Americans can lower their total medical costs significantly by taking simple steps to prevent or manage disease and by switching to generic drugs whenever possible, new research from health insurance giant Cigna confirmed.

A new, multiyear study compared the healthcare claims of 897,000 Cigna customers enrolled in consumer-driven health plans, preferred provider organizations and health maintenance organizations. Based on its findings, Cigna asserted that beneficiaries covered by its Cigna Choice Fund CDH plans “improve their costs without compromising care by becoming more engaged in improving their health and by becoming informed healthcare consumers,” according to a company report.

“When Americans engage in health-smart habits, such as participating in health coaching and disease management programs, substituting generic medications for brand-name drugs and avoiding unnecessary trips to the emergency room, their total medical costs went down 15%,” the report noted. That resulted in an average savings of $358 per person in the first year, Cigna noted.

Behind the cost reductions, according to the insurer, were higher-than-industry-average rates of participation by Cigna CDH plan members in health coaching and disease management programs, as well as higher generic drug substitution rates. “Cigna CDH plan participants who also have Cigna Pharmacy Management benefits choose generic equivalent drugs 70% of the time,” the company noted.

Avoiding unnecessary emergency room visits also is key to health cost savings, the report noted. “CDH plan enrollees use the emergency room at a 13% lower rate than individuals who have HMO and PPO plans,” the company asserted. “When Cigna Choice Fund customers visited an urgent care facility, their doctor’s office or convenience clinic instead of the ER, they saved an average of $800.”

 

“The evidence is clear,” the report’s authors asserted. “Given the right incentives, the right health improvement programs, useful cost and quality information, and easy-to-understand correspondence, individuals are making rational, wise and successful healthcare decisions.”

 

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