PHARMACY

Teva, Active Biotech: Laquinimod reduces relapses, disease progression in MS patients

BY Alaric DeArment

JERUSALEM — An investigational drug made by Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and Active Biotech for multiple sclerosis reduced disease relapses and prevented the progression of disability, according to late-stage clinical trial results announced Monday.

The drug makers said the drug, laquinimod, reduced annualized relapse rates by 23% and disability progression by 36% in the phase-3 “Allegro” study. The drug also reduced brain tissue loss by 33%. In addition, the companies said the drug was safe and well-tolerated, without suppression of the immune system. Laquinimod is a once-daily, orally administered treatment. Teva also makes the injected MS drug Copaxone (glatiramer acetate).

“The Allegro study results are exciting, as they suggest that oral laquinimod is a novel therapeutic option that safely slows MS disease activity and progression,” principal study investigator and medical professor at the University Vite Salute in San Raffaele, Italy, Giancarlo Comi, said.

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Express Scripts: Aligning patient behavior, intentions could save money for healthcare system

BY Alaric DeArment

ST. LOUIS — The road to waste reduction is paved with good intentions.

That’s the conclusion of pharmacy benefit manager Express Script’s "2010 Drug Trend Report," which found that 33% of annual pharmacy-related waste can be eliminated by encouraging patients to improve common behaviors linked to their prescription drugs by harnessing their good intentions.

The report, a Harris Interactive study commissioned by the PBM, found what the company called a gap between patient intentions and patient actions. In one example, 82% of patients using branded drugs would rather use generics. The report found that if all patients consistently used generics, low-cost brands and home delivery of medications when available and appropriate, it would save the country’s healthcare system as much as $403 billion per year.

“Don’t let behavior fool you,” Express Scripts chief scientist Bob Nease said. “Patients’ behavior is often misleading and doesn’t represent their underlying intention. Our research and experience show that most patients, when presented with a choice, make decisions that lower costs and improve their health — decisions that also are in the plan sponsor’s best interest.”

Other findings in the report included a 19.6% increase in the specialty drug trend, showing a consistent double-digit increase in trend every year since 2004. Meanwhile, trend for traditional medications fell by more than 50%, and overall drug trend increased by 3.6%, compared with a 6.4% increase in 2009.

Diabetes drugs also saw an increase in trend growth, by 12.5%, while drug spend on ulcer disease treatments fell by 13.7%, thanks to more generic and over-the-counter drugs entering the market.

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SXC to acquire MedMetrics

BY Alaric DeArment

LISLE, Ill. — Pharmacy benefit manager SXC Health Solutions will acquire “substantially all” assets of Worcester, Mass.-based PBM MedMetrics Health Partners, SXC said Tuesday.

The companies expect the acquisition to be completed in second quarter 2011. Financial terms were not disclosed. MedMetrics manages about $200 million in annual drug spend.

“We are very pleased to welcome MedMetrics and its employees into the SXC fold,” SXC chairman, president and CEO Mark Thierer said. “We have worked with MedMetrics as a client and a partner over the past seven years; they began with SXC as a healthcare IT client and later expanded the relationship to include PBM services.”

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