Specialty Rx & Armada
Founded in 2004 by Lawrence and Robert Irene and their father, Sandy—the respective CEO, president and chairman—Armada Health Care has become a major company for comprehensive access to the specialty pharmacy market. Drug Store News spoke with the Short Hills, N.J.-based company that helps bring together and facilitate business between all players in specialty pharmacy, including providers, manufacturers, wholesalers, payers and patients.
Drug Store News: Who is Armada; where did you come from; and what are your roots?
Armada Health Care: Lawrence, Robert and Sandy Irene are all registered pharmacists and graduates of St. John’s University College of Pharmacy. They have been thought leaders and advocates for improvements in the healthcare industry for 30-plus years. Sandy Irene, Lawrence and Robert’s father, originally owned and operated several retail pharmacies. In 1978, Sandy Irene purchased a long-term care pharmacy, which eventually became the largest LTC pharmacy in the United States. Subsequently, Lawrence and Robert established, operated and eventually divested the largest LTC buying group in the country. Collectively, these past experiences gave the Irenes the impetus to establish a focused and dedicated organization for the specialty pharmacy channel. The result was the establishment of Armada Health Care in 2004.
DrSN: How is your company unique?
Armada: Armada Health Care is the largest national marketing organization focused on the specialty pharmacy channel. Armada has established itself as a market leader in specialty pharmacy channel management by developing programs that benefit specialty pharmacy providers, pharma/biotech manufacturers, payers and, most importantly, patients.
DrSN: What have been the latest developments at the company?
Armada: Armada’s latest developments include the expansion of the Armada Specialty Pharmacy Network, the establishment of the Armada Specialty Pharmacy Advisory Board and the continued development of unique programs for specialty pharmaceuticals.
DrSN: What is the Armada Specialty Pharmacy Network?
Armada: Armada Health Care developed the Armada Specialty Pharmacy Network in 2007 to create value-added services and programs for Armada member pharmacies and their patients. This membership, now the largest in the nation, includes thousands of independent, chain and specialty pharmacies. The ASPN network offers unparalleled access to virtually every specialty pharmacy product currently available.
Kroger to serve as exclusive supermarket sponsor of Fiesta Atlanta ’09
ATLANTA Kroger will serve as the exclusive supermarket sponsor of Fiesta Atlanta ’09, an outdoor Cinco de Mayo festival celebrating Latino culture, music and food.
Fiesta Atlanta ’09 takes place on Sunday, May 3 at Centennial Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta. For Kroger, the partnership represents the company’s commitment to the Hispanic community.
“We are very excited and looking forward to Fiesta Atlanta,” said Glynn Jenkins, director of communications and public relations for Kroger’s Atlanta Division. “Kroger has always made exceptional efforts to serve the Hispanic community and joining this celebration is another commitment to our Hispanic customers.”
Atlanta’s largest Hispanic outdoor family festival, Fiesta Atlanta attracted over 40,000 attendees last year. This year’s event will once again feature authentic food from many Latin-American countries, arts and crafts, sponsor displays with many free product samples and continuous live musical performances by national and local recording artists.
AARP cites big jump in Rx prices
NEW YORK A report by AARP indicated that prices for branded drugs have increased at a rate outpacing the rate of inflation by more than six percentage points.
The report found that manufacturers’ prices for branded drugs increased by 9% last year, compared with the general inflation rate of 3.8%. Meanwhile, prices of generic drugs decreased, on average, by 10.6%.
Generic drugs have already grown significantly over the years, accounting for 69% of all prescriptions dispensed in the United States, but 16% of money spent on prescriptions, according to IMS Health. In 2007, according to the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the average price of a generic prescription drug was $34.34, compared to $119.51 for a branded drug.
Price increases for branded drugs significantly higher than the overall rate of inflation, mixed with the recession, are likely to drive more consumers to generics. According to AARP, nearly a quarter of all older Americans skip medication doses because of the cost, while other studies have shown that many Americans facing economic hardship don’t have prescriptions filled at all.
At the same time, many branded pharmaceutical drugs – not to mention biologics – don’t yet have a generic version. This could create difficulties for elderly and other patients who may be able switch to medications that are cheaper, but different from what they take, or who take biologic drugs or newer drugs that have no equivalent on the market.
The Generic Pharmaceutical Association said the report indicated that generic medicines are “the right choice for better health.”
“During these difficult economic times, it is truly disturbing to hear reports that our nation’s seniors cannot afford their prescription drug costs,” GPhA president and CEO Kathleen Jaeger said in a statement responding to the report. “No one should be forced to choose between putting food on their table and paying for needed medicines.”
Jaeger also said the report illustrated the need for a regulatory pathway for biosimilars.
“It’s time to do right by our seniors and all Americans struggling with healthcare costs by approving legislation that brings safe, effective and affordable biogeneric medicines to patients sooner rather than later,” Jaeger said. “GPhA also strongly believes that increasing funding for FDA would ensure the more timely approval of generic medicines, increasing the opportunity for consumers to save immediately.”