PHARMACY

Rituxan fails in tests to treat lupus

BY Adam Kraemer

NEW YORK Genentech and Biogen Idec reported Wednesday that their jointly marketed drug Rituxan failed to show effectiveness in battling lupus, according to published reports.

Lupus, an autoimmune disease suffered by an estimated 1.5 million Americans, has no cure and the treatments currently prescribed for it—decades-old immune-suppressing agents—are plagued with serious side effects. The disease, which is caused by a malfunctioning immune system that can attack multiple organs, is potentially fatal and disproportionately affects women of childbearing age.

“We are disappointed in the results,” Hal Barron, Genentech’s chief medical officer, said in a statement, according to the Wall Street Journal. “But we understood from the outset the significant challenges in developing treatments for systemic lupus erythematosus.”

Rituxan, which had U.S. sales of $2.3 billion last year, is already approved to treat rheumatoid arthritis and a form of blood cancer. Genentech and Biogen Idec have been trying to broaden the drug’s uses, though the companies announced earlier this month that it also failed to treat a severe form of multiple sclerosis. They do report that they are still in the process of conducting a separate trial on lupus nephritis, which occurs when the disease attacks the kidney.

Success with any added utilization of Rituxan could spell additional sales in the hundreds of millions of dollars per year for the partnership.

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ACM, Emdeon partner to bring enhancements in technology to claims system

BY Drew Buono

MINNEAPOLIS The health care benefits management company ACM and Emdeon, which provides an electronic claims network for the health care industry have announced a new alliance that will bring technological enhancements to the claims solution system that Emdeon uses.

ACM’s MedRxPrecision technology solution will add a claims management tool for drug claims processed under the medical benefit that features automated re-pricing and editing using National Drug Code-level data.

According to Gary Stuart, executive vice president of Emdeon, “Through this technology partnership, Emdeon is able to expand the essential services we provide to our clients and offer them the opportunity to exploit the power of ACM’s technology, seamlessly integrated and delivered through our network. Together we now can provide clients with enhanced capabilities to re-price drug claims, add advanced claim edits, reduce error rates for these pharmacy claims, and bring even more cost savings to their bottom line.”

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Brokaw reminds NACDS Annual attendees of uncertainty in the past

BY Antoinette Alexander

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. Offering attendees of NACDS Annual a look at the world and a glimpse back in time, was author and broadcast journalist Tom Brokaw, former NBC News anchorman and managing editor of the program NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw, who wrapped up Sunday’s Business Program I with an intriguing and inspirational presentation.

Americans today are faced with a myriad of uncertainties as the war rages on in Iraq, the economy wobbles, the housing market sinks and the global climate sparks concern. To top it off, the nation is going through what is the most important presidential election since 1968. However, in an effort to remind attendees that this isn’t the first time the nation has faced uncertainties, Brokaw took industry members on a trip back in time to the 1960s.

“I know it may seem as if this is a time of great trial and challenge, and it is. … There is probably an inclination to think, ‘Oh my God, times have never been worse. We have subprime mortgages, high gas prices, World War in two different countries. What is going to happen to us?’ Let me take you back 40 years ago,” said Brokaw, who has a distinguished record as a political reporter and has a series of “firsts,” including being the first and only anchor to report from the scene the night the Berlin Wall fell.

Throughout much of his presentation, Brokaw recounted many of the tribulations that took place during those years—including the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the Vietnam War and race riots—and shared stories he has carried with him throughout the years.

Brokaw also addressed the presidential election and stressed the need for Americans to get involved and to send a signal to the next generation.

“We need to get involved now. And most of all we need to send a signal to the next generation coming up. This is how we define ourselves and our country and the system every four years. We are not spectators in the process,” said Brokaw. “When we have gotten in trouble, as I believe that we have in the last 10 to 12 years in this country, it is because we have allowed ourselves to be shut out of the process.”

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