PHARMACY

SXC Health Solutions to acquire MedfusionRx

BY Alaric DeArment

LISLE, Ill. — Pharmacy benefit manager SXC Health Solutions will acquire Birmingham, Ala.-based specialty pharmacy provider MedfusionRx for $100 million, SXC said Thursday.

SXC also may pay an additional $5.5 million if unspecified performance targets are met through fiscal year 2012, the company said. MedfusionRx operates pharmacies in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, West Virginia and Kansas, and serves more than 9,000 patients.

“Specialty pharmaceuticals are the fastest-growing area in the PBM space, and our clients recognize it as the next critical area of drug spend management,” SXC president and CEO Mark Thierer said. “This acquisition will expand our presence and enhance our capabilities in the specialty pharmacy market, which differentiates us from our peers in the mid-market PBM sector.”

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Pharmacy systems providers link up to offer improved prescriber verification

BY Jim Frederick

FORT WORTH, Texas — Integrated pharmacy systems provider PDX and Health Market Science, a leading source for health provider data and solutions, have teamed up to improve the accuracy and safety of the prescription verification process.

The two firms unveiled a stepped-up alliance Wednesday that they said will provide pharmacies with real-time prescriber validation solutions when dispensing prescriptions. The new, jointly developed automation solution said both companies “mitigate the risk of submitting an invalid prescriber identifier or submitting a prescription for a state or federally sanctioned prescriber.”

To that end, PDX and HMS will provide “advanced point-of-service compliance solutions” that integrate the PDX Pharmacy System with HMS’ Prescriber MasterFile. It means that pharmacists using PDX software will have instant access to up-to-date information on prescribing physicians, including licensure, professional status, sanctions and Drug Enforcement Administration prescriptive authority.

The result, both companies said, will be an improved and simpler verification of prescriptions as part of the dispensing process. “Each pharmacy transaction is reviewed in real time to determine if the authorizing prescriber’s license and credentials are valid and appropriate for the drug being dispensed,” they noted.

In the future, PDX’s Enterprise Pharmacy System also will be linked to the new verification process, PDX spokesman Todd Whitely reported.

Lending urgency to the effort, PDX president and CEO Jeff Farris said, is “the intense regulatory scrutiny at the state and federal level” over the prescription dispensing process. “We had to make our solution as effective as possible during the filling of a prescription, so pharmacy staff could mitigate risk without compromising customer satisfaction,” Farris explained. “By integrating our systems with the most up-to-date sanctions data available on the market from Health Market Science, we can help our pharmacy customers address the compliance challenges.”

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Merck to acquire SmartCells

BY Allison Cerra

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J., and BEVERLY, Mass. (Dec. 2) Merck announced on Thursday it has inked a deal to acquire an insulin maker.

The drug maker said it has entered a definitive agreement to acquire SmartCells, a company developing a glucose responsive insulin formulation for the treatment of diabetes. Under the terms of the agreement, Merck will acquire all outstanding stock of SmartCells. In return, SmartCells shareholders will receive an upfront cash payment and be eligible to receive clinical development and regulatory milestones for products resulting from the transaction for potential aggregate payments in excess of $500 million, Merck said.

"Maintaining control of blood glucose levels represents a daily challenge for people living with diabetes," said Nancy Thornberry, SVP and head of diabetes and obesity franchise at Merck Research Labs. "Through the acquisition of SmartCells we have obtained innovative technology that may enable us to develop glucose-responsive insulins. If this investigational technology is ultimately approved for use with patients, it could provide an important new therapy for the treatment of diabetes. This holds the potential to significantly impact the treatment of this disease."

The acquisition will expand Merck’s diabetes portfolio, which currently includes Januvia and Janumet.

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