ReportersNotebook — Chain Pharmacy, 8/6/12
SUPPLIER NEWS — The Food and Drug Administration has approved Watson Pharmaceuticals’ Next Choice One Dose (levonorgestrel) tablets in the 1.5-mg strength. The drug is an emergency contraceptive used to prevent pregnancy following unprotected sex or contraceptive failure. It is a generic version of Teva Women’s Health’s Plan B One-Step, which had sales of about $88 million during the 12-month period ended in March, according to IMS Health.
The FDA has approved Lupin Pharmaceuticals’ pregabalin capsules in the 25-mg, 50-mg, 75-mg, 100-mg, 150-mg, 200-mg, 225-mg and 300-mg strengths. The drug is used to treat fibromyalgia, partial-onset seizures in adults, neuropathic pain associated with diabetic peripheral neuropathy and post-herpetic neuralgia. It is a generic version of C.P. Pharmaceuticals’ Lyrica, which had sales of about $1.8 billion during the 12-month period that ended in March, according to IMS Health.
The FDA has given priority review status to applications for Xarelto (rivaroxaban) as a treatment for deep-vein thrombosis — a condition in which clots form in one of the large deep veins, usually in the legs — and pulmonary embolism, which occurs when a DVT clot dislodges and is carried to the lung via the heart, Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen Research & Development said.
Mental health, medicines top of mind for industry
In July, the country’s largest trade group representing the drug industry released a report showing nearly 200 drugs under clinical development or Food and Drug Administration review for treating mental disorders.
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America released a report listing 187 drugs, including 52 for depression, 37 for schizophrenia and 26 for anxiety disorders.
“Mental illnesses do not discriminate and can have a profound impact on people’s lives,” PhRMA president and CEO John Castellani said. “They come in many different forms and impact patients in many different ways. That is why biopharmaceutical research companies are working on new and better paths of treatment for patients battling these disabling conditions.”
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 1-in-4 American adults has a diagnosable mental disorder, and serious mental illnesses cost the country more than $317 billion per year in lost wages, healthcare expenditures and disability benefits. And according to a report released by IMS Health in April, mental health disorders were among the five categories accounting for nearly one-third of total healthcare spending in the country. At the same time, a June report by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 8% of respondents to a survey said they had problems getting mental health care in the past year due to the cost.
A report released in March by pharmacy benefit manager Medco Health Solutions found that women take mental health drugs at a much higher rate than men. The study found that 25% of women use psychotropic drugs, compared with 15% of men. The study was based on the pharmacy claims of more than 2 million Americans and measured the use of drugs for treating depression, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and psychotic disorders between 2001 and 2010.
Wellness stores, ambassadors do well for RAD
One of the most visible representations of Rite Aid’s efforts to make a comeback is its Wellness store format. The company first unveiled the format in several test markets in the Northeast last year, gradually expanding it to other states. Today, more than 420 stores have been converted, and the chain hopes to eventually make the format the norm. The company plans to have 780 stores converted by the end of the year.
Rite Aid’s vision for its Wellness stores is apparent upon first stepping through the doors: Lighter colors and lower shelves create a brighter, more open look for the store; updated signage, new ways of arranging SKUs and new sections give it a more modern, stylish look; and the store’s Wellness Ambassadors help make the store and pharmacy more accessible. In a conference call with analysts to announce the chain’s first quarter 2013 earnings in June, president, chairman and CEO John Standley said the Wellness stores have been outperforming Rite Aid’s core stores.
So far, it seems that the Wellness Ambassadors are a major part of what has made the Wellness format successful. The Wellness Ambassadors walk the aisles of the store with iPads, offering assistance to customers, information about various products and directing people to the pharmacy if they need further assistance. In the company’s third quarter 2012 conference call in December 2011, Standley said those stores that had Wellness Ambassadors were doing better than the ones without. As of June, the company had trained about 600 Wellness Ambassadors.