PHARMACY

Tufts Health Plan to partner with Emdeon

BY Drew Buono

NASHVILLE, Tenn. Emdeon and Tufts Health Plan have entered into another agreement under which Tufts will add its payment management services to their already existing electronic data interchange services relationship, which includes claims, eligibility and benefits verification and other HIPAA based transactions.

Under the new deal, Tufts will offer a full collection of payment and payment communication related solutions to its providers and members, which will include print and mail services as well as electronic version through the health plan’s website. Electronic payment to providers and vendors that are supported through electronic funds transfer, electronic remittance advice used to reconcile and post receivables and electronic explanation of benefits to plan members will also be offered.

Emdeon will provide assistance in the areas of provider marketing, enrollment and administration of the ePayment services with the objective of migrating providers and vendors to electronic payments.

“We are extremely excited to broaden our longstanding relationship with Tufts Health Plan”, said Gary Stuart, executive vice president of Emdeon Business Services. “Its market leadership in Massachusetts coupled with Emdeon’s provider reach and experience in migrating paper-based administrative processes in healthcare puts us in a unique position to accelerate the transition to electronic payments. These services offer greater transparency into the claim settlement process and reduce administration for Tufts Health Plan’s providers and plan members.”

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Gardasil vaccine recipients report extreme pain, fainting

BY Drew Buono

MELBOURNE CITY, Australia New reports have shown that the Gardasil vaccine, which is given in three doses to females between the ages of 9 and 26 to prevent against a sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical and vaginal cancer, has been causing extreme pain and also has made girls faints, according to reports from Australia.

Officials at Merck, which makes the vaccine, attributes it partly to the virus-like particles in the shot. Studies showed more reports of pain from Gardasil than from placebo shots, and patients reported more pain when given shots with more of the particles. While many say the pain is short-lived, some say driving or sleeping on the injected arm is uncomfortable for up to a day after.

U.S. health officials have noticed a rise in reports of vaccine-associated fainting in girls. From 2002-04 there were about 50 reports of fainting; from 2005 until last July, there were about 230. About 180 of those cases followed a shot of Gardasil, which came on to the market in 2006.

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Pfizer, Taisho announce partnership to develop schizophrenia treatment

BY Drew Buono

NEW YORK & TOKYO Pfizer and Taisho Pharmaceuticals have signed a definitive agreement to replace their letter of intent for the worldwide (excluding Japan) collaboration to research, develop and commercialize TS-032, a drug candidate for schizophrenia, as well as other central nervous system disorders that is currently in preclinical development.

Under the agreement, Taisho will receive an initial payment of $22 million from Pfizer. The company will also receive milestone payments related to progress of development, as well as royalties and milestone payments tied to sales if TS-032 is approved by regulatory authorities and launched.

“We are pleased to partner with Taisho in this important area of research. Schizophrenia is among the most chronic and disabling of mental health conditions and there still remains a significant need for novel treatment advances with improved efficacy and fewer side effects,” said Martin Mackay, president of Pfizer Global Research and Development. “Pfizer has a long-standing strength in developing and commercializing medications for the treatment of psychiatric illnesses, including Zoloft, Xanax and Geodon. This agreement highlights our commitment to pursue opportunities that align strategically with our key development priorities and strengthen our pipeline.”

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