PHARMACY

Walmart unveils one-of-a-kind opioid disposal effort

BY Marianne Wilson

Walmart is taking action to help fight the nation’s ongoing opioid epidemic.

The nation’s largest retailer is launching a first-of-its-kind opioid disposal solution — available at no cost — in its 4,7000 pharmacies nationwide, including those at Sam’s Club. Called DisposeRx, the product provides a virtually effortless way for patients to destroy leftover opioids. It contains ingredients that when emptied into the opioid pill bottle and combined with warm water, creates a biodegradable gel that can be thrown out safely in the trash. The solution will be provided in addition to ongoing counseling available to customers on proper opioid use when filling an opioid prescription at a Walmart pharmacy.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the National Institute of Drug Abuse, more than 65% of people misusing prescription opioids are getting them from family and friends, and personal prescriptions are one of the main sources of nonmedical opioid abuse.
Beginning immediately, customers filling any new Class II opioid prescription at Walmart pharmacies will receive a free DisposeRx packet and opioid safety information brochure when picking up their prescription. Patients with chronic Class II opioid prescriptions will be offered a free DisposeRx packet every six months. Existing pharmacy patients can also request a free DisposeRx packet at any time, including at the upcoming Walmart Wellness Day event on January 20 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. local time at all Walmart locations nationwide. Additionally, Sam’s Club patients can access Dispose Rx at their pharmacies.

“While this issue requires many resources to solve, we are confident this unique, easy-to-use disposal solution, DisposeRx, will make a meaningful impact on the lives of many,” said Marybeth Hays, executive VP of consumables and health and wellness at Walmart U.S. “Walmart is incredibly proud to fund this initiative that provides our patients with an opioid disposal solution they can access nationwide, at no cost.”

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FDA approves Avion Pharmaceuticals’ Balcoltra

BY DSN STAFF

The Food and Drug Administration has approved Avion Pharmaceuticals’ Balcoltra oral contraceptive. The Atlanta-based maker of Prenate prescription prenatal vitamins said that this approval was its first for a new drug it had developed internally.

Balcoltra combines 0.1-mg levonorgestrel tablets, 20-mcg ethinyl estradiol tablets and 36.5-mg ferrous bisglycinate tablets — which the company said was a unique combination on the market.

“Avion is excited to offer our women’s health community this oral contraceptive formulation that fills a gap in the current branded options available to women,” Avion CEO Art Deas said. “The validity of data related to safety and efficacy for Balcoltra also provides another viable prescribing option for our prescribing community.”

The company said it plans to launch Balcoltra in the spring.

“Avion has always focused on creating a meaningful and long-term supporting role for our women’s healthcare prescribers,” Avion president Mike Sullivan said. “The Balcoltra approval and forthcoming launch is a monumental event for Avion, allowing us to solidify our commitment to the women’s healthcare community.”

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CVS Health adds rheumatoid arthritis to Transform Care offerings

BY David Salazar

In a move it said was aimed at helping its pharmacy benefits management clients control high specialty drug costs and improve patient outcomes, CVS Health has introduced the Transform Rheumatoid Arthritis Care program.

Part of the Woonsocket, R.I.-based company’s suite of personalized and condition-specific Transform Care offerings, CVS Health said Transform RA Care is designed to leverage pharmacy network and utilization management tools to encourage use of lower-cost therapies. It also uses outcomes-based contracts that tie reimbursement to how well a drug meets targets. A drug’s inability to meet outcome targets might result in a manufacturer having to provide additional value

“Rheumatoid arthritis is a complex condition and is one of the top drivers of specialty drug trend for our PBM clients,” CVS Health executive vice president and chief medical officer Troyen Brennan said. “By leveraging our integrated pharmacy care model, we can provide highly personalized, whole-patient support through our specialty pharmacy and embedded AccordantCare nurses, while harnessing the power of our PBM’s tools to encourage appropriate use of and adherence to lower cost therapies.”

Among the PBM tools the company said is part of Transform RA Care is the use of an indication-based formulary for autoimmune drugs. CVS Health said that this approach chooses a drug’s formulary placement based on a patient’s diagnosis, rather than the therapy’s class.

“Treating Rheumatoid Arthritis costs the U.S. health care system $19 billion a year. Both spend and trend have also been rising for the autoimmune category in recent years and market analysts expect this category to be the fastest-growing drug class over the next five years,” CVS Specialty executive vice president Alan Lotvin said. “Our program is unique in that we can pull together resources enabled by our integrated pharmacy care model to deliver both a truly member-focused clinical management program while also helping to manage the rising costs within the autoimmune category through new approaches to contracting and formulary management.”

CVS Health said PBM members who enroll in Transform RA Care also will continue to receive personalized care and expertise from its RA Care Team, which includes specialty-trained pharmacists and Accordant nurses. The care team offers clinical assessments, benefit verification, medication dispensing and distribution and other support services that include symptom and side effect management and care coordination, as well as education and coaching.

CVS Health noted that clients enrolled in Transform RA Care could expect savings of up to 5% on their annual spending on RA drugs — as much as $500,000 for a client that manages 100,000 lives.

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