PHARMACY

University of Arizona College of Pharmacy switches to IBM Linux system for big data management

BY Alaric DeArment

ARMONK, N.Y. — The University of Arizona College of Pharmacy is switching from a MacOS-based platform to an IBM system running Linux to manage growth of big data.

IBM said Wednesday that the Tucson, Ariz., college was using an IBM zEnterprise mainframe running the IBM DB2 database software on Linux to analyze and process 3 million medical claims per week. A business partner of IBM, Sirius Computer Solutions, helped the college move to the new system, which reduces the time it takes to process medical claims by 60%.

The college’s Medication Management Center, a pharmacist-run center that provides personalized medication therapy management services, has more than 2.5 million members, making it necessary to have the ability to quickly and efficiently analyze so-called "big data," including medical records, medication information and claims. Previously, the college relied on a Mac Pro server to manage data, but its input-output capabilities were not sufficient, and the system became slow.

"Among the number of reasons we chose IBM’s zEnterprise platform was its reliability and almost unlimited scalability," college MTM Center associate director Kevin Barber said. "zEnterprise allows us to focus on the applications and service we deliver to our patients and not on the constant maintenance of our hardware and software technology."

 

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Diplomat appoints Lance Neill as VP corporate services

BY Alaric DeArment

FLINT, Mich. — An executive at Diplomat has been named VP corporate services, the specialty pharmacy said Wednesday.

Diplomat, which recently changed its name from Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy, announced the appointment of Lance Neill, who will be responsible for analytics, business intelligence, contracting management and project management.

"Lance has already proven to be a valuable member of Diplomat’s executive team," Diplomat CEO Phil Hagerman said. "He brings deep industry knowledge to the table and has the experience necessary to adopt and implement important strategic initiatives that address anticipated challenges and opportunities in the growing specialty pharmacy space."

Neill, who began working at Diplomat earlier this year, previously worked for Walmart as director of commercial contracting and channel management, overseeing pharmacy contracting and network management for pharmacy benefit managers and large managed-care organizations.

 

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GSK, Theravance launch Breo Ellipta

BY Alaric DeArment

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — A once-daily inhaler for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease has become available, the makers of the inhaler said Wednesday.

GlaxoSmithKline and Theravance announced the availability of Breo Ellipta (fluticasone furoate; vilanterol), for long-term maintenance treatment of airflow obstruction in patients with COPD, a term that encompasses chronic bronchitis and emphysema. The drug is not meant for treating acute bronchospasm or asthma, the companies said.

"Patients and physicians have a new treatment option with Breo Ellipta, the first once-daily [inhaled corticosteroid and long-acting beta-2 agonist] for the maintenance treatment of COPD," GSK U.S. Respiratory Business Unit SVP Jorge Bartolome said. "This new option for healthcare providers to prescribe is good news for the millions of people in the United States affected by COPD."

Under a partnership between the two companies started in 2002, Theravance is making a $30 million milestone payment to GSK following the launch of the drug, which the Food and Drug Administration approved in May.

 

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