PHARMACY

Sam’s Club to offer bundled solution to link physicians with EHRs, health IT

BY Jim Frederick

BENTONVILLE, Ark. Walmart’s Sam’s Club division works on the principle that consumers and small businesses will gobble up steeply discounted bulk goods and services, be they plasma-screen TVs, office supplies or cases of diet soda.

Recently, however, the wholesale retailer has sought out a partner to offer a solution for health information technology, electronic medical records and e-prescribing.

The new partnership is between Sam’s Club and eClinicalWorks, a leading provider of electronic medical record and practice management solutions for doctors and physicians’ practice sites, will offer a solution. The two companies have struck and agreement by which Sam’s will offer complete EHR and PM packages from eClinicalWorks and Dell – including installation, training and maintenance – for what Walmart is describing as bargain-basement prices.

Sam’s will reportedly begin offering the solution in the spring to doctors who are members of its warehouse club program. The package will be a turnkey solution that will bundle eClinicalWorks software with a Dell laptop or desktop computer and tech support.

The bundled package will allow individual physicians or full-scale clinics to adopt health IT and link with electronic health networks – including electronic prescribing networks – at as little as half the cost of purchasing each component separately, according to eClinicalWorks.

The reported price will be under $25,000 for purchase and installation by a single doctor, with additional packages costing $10,000 per practice. Additional costs for support and maintenance could range from $4,000 to more than $6,000 annually, according to HISTalk, a web site devoted to news and opinion on health IT.

In an interview with The New York Times, Wal-Mart’s senior director of healthcare business development, Marcus Osborne, was quoted as saying, “We’re a high-volume, low-cost company and I would argue that mentality is sorely lacking in the health care industry.”

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Congress introduces new biosimilars bill

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON Members of Congress have introduced a second biosimilars bill to compete with the one introduced earlier this month by Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman of California and others.

Reps. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., Jay Inslee, D-Wash., and Joe Barton, R-Texas, introduced H.R. 1548, the Pathway for Biosimilars Act Tuesday afternoon. The Biotechnology Industry Organization had announced Monday that it expected the bill’s introduction.

While the Waxman bill, the Promoting Innovation and Access to Life-Saving Medicine Act, provides for a five-year market exclusivity period for branded biotech drugs, Eshoo’s bill provides for 12 years of exclusivity.

BIO, which favors an exclusivity period of 14 years, opposed the Waxman bill, describing it as “filled with potholes,” but expressed support for the Eshoo bill.

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Pfizer granted patent renewal for Lipitor

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK Pfizer announced Tuesday that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has granted reissue patent RE40667, relating to Lipitor.

The company had applied for the reissue patent in January 2007, in order to correct a technical defect in the ‘995 enantiomer patent for atorvastatin calcium, the salt form of atorvastatin sold as Lipitor.

On Jan. 6, the company announced that the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office had issued a “Notice of Allowance” accepting the company’s application to correct the technical defect in the ‘995 patent.

The reissue patent will have the same force and effect as the original ‘995 patent and the same June 2011 expiration date (including the six-month pediatric exclusivity period).

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