PHARMACY

Walgreens’ PBM unit reports savings

BY Jim Frederick

DEERFIELD, Ill. Employers and other health plan sponsors that rely on Walgreens Health Initiatives, the Walgreens-owned pharmacy benefit manager, are lowering health costs through higher-than-average generic switch rates and other cost-saving tools, the PBM reported Tuesday.

Based on data from 2009, WHI’s 2009 Trend Report showed that health membership plans that were “highly managed” by the PBM lowered their drug costs by roughly one-half percentage points. In addition, pharmacy intervention and drug substitution programs employed by WHI boosted generic dispensing rates for WHI clients to 67.1%, according to the company.

“Additionally, for the fourth quarter 2008, an industry-leading generic dispensing rate of 73.9%… was achieved across all prescriptions processed by Walgreens Health Initiatives,” noted Walgreens. That represents a generic dispensing rate “more than 6.5 percentage points higher than figures reported by other PBMs,” the company asserted in a statement. “Analysis by the company has shown that for every 1% increase in generic utilization, clients realize approximately 2% savings in total spend.”

According to the 2009 Trend Report, one WHI client company that provides pharmacy benefits for 130,000 plan members reversed rising drug costs through the use of WHI’s pharmacy network and the addition of a Walgreens Take Care Clinic at the worksite.

Another plan sponsor with 100,000 members reduced its costs by $473,000 annually by adopting new procedures for prior authorization of certain prescribed drugs.

In addition, noted WHI, “Study results that showed clients who implemented step care therapy realized a cost savings of 69.6% for a certain therapeutic class that surpassed the savings of a control group which did not implement any changes.”

WHI now manages pharmacy benefits for some 9.2 million patients through a national network of more than 62,000 pharmacies. It is one of three PBMs to achieve certification every year since the inception of the certification program by HR Policy Association, a public policy organization of senior human resources executives of large U.S. employers, according to Walgreens.

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Bartell Drugs sponsors ‘Stock the Pantry’ food drive

BY Alaric DeArment

SEATTLE Bartell Drugs has announced its sponsorship of its “Stock the Pantry” food drive to benefit a local food bank.

The regional chain said it would accept donations of nonperishable food for the organization Northwest Harvest at its 55 stores in the Seattle area from June 1 to 14.

The drive is designed to benefit families that depend on free or reduced-price school lunches during the summer months, when they may struggle to provide those meals at home.

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FDA tenatively approves Teva pink eye generic

BY Alaric DeArment

ROCKVILLE, Md. The Food and Drug Administration has given tentative approval to Teva Pharmaceutical Industries for its generic version of a drug for eye infections, FDA records showed.

The agency gave Teva the tentative approval for its moxifloxacin hydrochloride ophthalmic solution in the 0.5% strength. The solution is a generic version of Alcon’s Vigamox, which is used to treat bacterial conjunctivitis, commonly known as pink eye.

Alcon does not list the sales figures for Vigamox, though it reported sales of drugs to treat infections and inflammations of $882.5 million for 2008 in Securities and Exchange Commission filings.

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