PHARMACY

Teva, Active Biotech complete patient enrollment in phase 3 clinical trial for MS treatment

BY Alaric DeArment

JERUSALEM Two drug makers announced Thursday that they have finished enrolling patients in a phase 3 clinical trial to evaluate a drug for treating relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis.

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and Active Biotech said the trial would compare the drug, laquinimod, with placebo and with Biogen Idec’s injectable treatment Avonex (interferon beta-1a). Laquinimod is designed as a once-daily oral treatment for RRMS. The trial involves 1,200 patients at 156 sites in the United States, Europe, Israel and South Africa.

“Teva and Active Biotech are encouraged by the potential of laquinimod to address patients’ unmet need for an oral immunomodulating MS therapy that provides efficacy while maintaining safety,” Teva group VP global branded products Moshe Manor said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing our clinical phase 3 program of laquinimod and hope it will offer enhanced quality of health for RRMS patients.”

The trial, called BRAVO, accompanies the phase 3 ALLEGRO study, which finished enrolling more than 1,000 patients at 152 sites in North America, Asia and Europe in November and is ongoing. The Food and Drug Administration gave laquinimod fast-track designation in February.

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NBGH recognizes employers that promote healthy living

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON A nonprofit organization has awarded more than 60 employers for promoting healthy living.

The National Business Group on Health announced Wednesday that it had recognized 63 large employers as the winners of the “2009 Best Employers for Healthy Lifestyles” award.

“We are proud to recognize 63 large employers for their unparalleled commitment to a healthy workplace and for making their employees’ health and well-being a top priority,” NGBH president Helen Darling said. “Employers know first-hand that a healthy workforce is essential to increasing productivity and to maintaining a competitive edge in the new global economy.”

Companies that won the award – given in Platinum, Gold and Silver categories – included Hannaford Supermarkets, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, CVS Caremark, General Mills, Wal-Mart, Cardinal Health, Meijer and Target.

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MinuteClinic becomes participating provider in all CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield plans

BY Antoinette Alexander

MINNEAPOLIS MinuteClinic is now a participating provider in insurance plans offered by CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., the company announced on Wednesday.

Nearly 3.4 million CareFirst members now have in-network access to MinuteClinic healthcare centers located inside select CVS/pharmacy stores in Maryland and portions of northern Virginia in the CareFirst service area.

Previously, MinuteClinic was a participating provider with CareFirst’s preferred provider and federal employee plans in Maryland only.

“This is an important development in the growth of our business in Maryland and northern Virginia as we expand access to care to new customers,” stated Chip Phillips, MinuteClinic president. “By offering high-quality treatment in a convenient setting, we are working with CareFirst to help reduce healthcare insurance expenses for its members, as well as time spent away from members’ families and the workplace.”

MinuteClinic, which is owned by CVS Caremark, has about 500 locations in 25 states.

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