PHARMACY

Wal-Mart joins Dossia coalition to manage employees’ health records

BY Drew Buono

BENTONVILLE, Ark. Wal-Mart has joined a coalition called Dossia with companies Intel, Sanofi-Aventis, Cardinal Health, Applied Materials, Pitney Bowes and British Petroleum to give employees and their dependents personal electronic health records as a way to keep their employees informed about their health and to try to save money on increasing health care costs, according to published reports.

Dossia is partnering with Children’s Hospital Boston in developing the e-health systems. Some of the information found in the digitized information will be prescription drug records and lab results. “Keeping employees healthier can help rein in health care costs not only for individual companies, but can help make an impact nationally,” said Linda Dillman, Wal-Mart’s executive vice president of benefits and risk management.

With this in mind, Wal-Mart is also on a mission to increase the number of employees and their dependents who have health insurance coverage. More than 1.1 million Wal-Mart workers and dependents are now covered by Wal-Mart health plans. The percentage of Wal-Mart workers who are uninsured fell to 7.3 percent from 9.6 percent over the last year, said Dillman. She also said that during Wal-Mart’s open enrollment process for benefits last fall, more than 30,000 employees signed up for Wal-Mart health coverage for the first time, decreasing the number of uninsured workers by 20 percent.

In addition to the “beta group of about 20” Wal-Mart employees testing the Dossia e-health records, “every founder” company of Dossia is also piloting the system, Dillman said.

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Ranbaxy, GSK settle over Imitrex litigation

BY Drew Buono

HARYANA, India Ranbaxy Laboratories has settled litigation with GlaxoSmithKline related to sumatriptan succinate tablets, the generic of GlaxoSmithKline’s drug Imitrex, according to published reports.

The settlement will allow Ranbaxy to exclusively sell the generic for 180 days starting December this year. Under the terms of the settlement, Ranbaxy can distribute a generic version of sumatriptan in 25 mg, 50 mg and 100 mg doses.

Analysts expect the company to make around $100 million in sumatriptan sales in the U.S. during the exclusivity period. Sumatriptan sales in the U.S. are worth $985 million, according to IMS data.

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FDA delays Kynapid decision pending final review

BY Drew Buono

VANCOUVER, Canada The Food and Drug Administration has delayed its decision on an application for the heart treatment drug Kynapid, according to published reports. The drug manufacturer Cardiome Pharma and its co-development partner Astellas Pharma US said yesterday that the FDA did not provide an action letter by the expected date of Jan. 19.

The application for Kynapid (vernakalant hydrochloride), based on a five-year clinical development program, was submitted in December 2006. In December 2007, the FDA’s cardiovascular and renal drugs advisory committee voted 6-2 in favor of recommending to the FDA that Kynapid be approved for the rapid conversion of acute atrial fibrillation to sinus rhythm.

“While we look forward to the FDA reaching a decision, we respect their need for additional time to review the Kynapid’s application,” said William Fitzsimmons, senior vice-president for research and development at Astellas.

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