HEALTH

Express Scripts, expanding PBM reach, agrees to buy WellPoint’s NextRx unit

BY Drug Store News Team

NEW YORK And then there were three.

 

With the decision by insurance giant Wellpoint to get out of the business of managing and coordinating pharmacy benefits for some 25 million of its members, the field of battle among the competing pharmacy benefit management firms will soon narrow. If the deal is approved, three large-scale players – CVS Caremark, Express Scripts and Medco Health – will control the pharmacy use patterns of well over 100 million Americans and account for more than 2 billion prescriptions dispensed annually in the Untied States.

 

 

The deal to buy Wellpoint’s PBM business, the nation’s fourth-largest, marks something of a vindication for Express Scripts, which lost a battle for control of Caremark to CVS two years ago. If successful in its bid – the deal must still pass muster with federal antitrust regulators – Express Scripts could add as many as 25 million patients to its PBM rolls and boost its managed prescription business by half, to some 750 million scripts dispensed annually by its pharmacy network.

 

 

Express Scripts chairman and CEO George Paz made it clear the company’s focus going forward would be to streamline pharmacy benefits and cut costs – both for Express Scripts and for its corporate clients who pay the prescription bills – by trying to shift more plan members to generics. Those cost-cutting efforts are also likely to spur more preventive-health programs and pharmacy interventions for the patients Express Scripts covers.

 

 

“Now more than ever, as the nation focuses on health care reform, this collaboration between Express Scripts and WellPoint represents a shared commitment to achieving optimal health outcomes while driving out wasteful spending,” said Paz in a written statement.

 

 

Citing the nation’s financial crisis, the leader of the nation’s largest PBM underscored the urgent need within the managed care industry to cut costs and boost preventive-care efforts on behalf of employers earlier this month.

 

 

“The current economic environment has understandably created a sense of urgency for companies to evaluate their benefit designs in order to meet financial goals, with 74 percent of our employer clients telling us that reducing overall health costs is their number one measure of success in the coming year,” said CVS Caremark chairman, president and CEO Tom Ryan. “Furthermore, our research indicates that our clients are looking to CVS Caremark to help them accomplish these savings by increasing plan participant engagement in their health care rather than simply increasing their share of the cost.”

 

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HEALTH

Nuvilex reduces suggested list price of Cinnergen

BY Michael Johnsen

CHERRY HILL, N.J. Nuvilex, formerly eFoodSafety.com, last week reduced the suggested list price of Cinnergen, a cranberry cinnamon liquid supplement, corresponding with an advertising and promotion campaign that helps promote healthy glucose metabolism, raise customer awareness and garner increased demand for the product at the lower price point.

“By improving our marketing and sales efforts, we intend to raise awareness and drive demand for Cinnergen,” stated Martin Schmieg, Nuvilex chairman and CEO. “Engaging our retail partners with better pricing while maintaining current gross margin levels will help us in retail positioning, and the lower suggested retail price will be good for current and future Cinnergen users. Furthermore, our partnership with dLife will expose Cinnergen to the large pre-diabetic and diabetic population that is looking for healthy alternatives. We plan to closely monitor and track our Cinnergen advertising and promotion activities and hope to report a significant return on our investment.”

Nuvilex has executed a partnership agreement for the promotion of Cinnergen with dLife, the only multimedia network serving the diabetes community. The dLife advertising and promotion campaign is expected to launch in mid-April. The multimedia outlets include dLife TV, which airs every Sunday on CNBC at 7 p.m. With more than 80,000 pages of content, 9,000 diabetic recipes, and 400 videos, dLife.com is a leading online destination for diabetes information. The dLife network also includes: dLifeRadio, which can be heard on stations around the country and on XM Satellite Radio; and dLifeDirect, the only diabetes cooperative direct-mail program.

Phase one of the dLife partnership will include 1.2 million banner ads plus content integration on the dLife website, banner advertising in three upcoming dLife newsletters (350,000 circulation) and banner advertising in the upcoming Rite Aid Connect Newsletter (550,000 circulation). Nuvilex has engaged the Iridium Group to design its web and print placement ads and will also focus on improving its search positions with Google and Yahoo. Nuvilex also intends to promote Cinnergen on WebMD.

Effective May 1, Nuvilex will reduce the suggested retail price for a 32-ounce bottle of Cinnergen to $26.95 from $34.95. Additionally, lower multi-level wholesale pricing will be established to support the Company’s retail partners.

Nuvilex will discontinue production of the 16-ounce bottle size of Cinnergen.

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Stem cells may curb insulin use for Type 1 diabetes patients, study finds

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK An experimental stem-cell treatment for juvenile-onset diabetes kept patients off insulin for at least a year, according to published reports.

According to WebMD, of patients recently diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes who received the treatment, more than half were able to go without insulin for at least a year, and four patients managed to go without it for at least three years. The treatment also uses drugs to suppress the immune system, however, and two of the patients contracted pneumonia.

The original study appears in the April 15 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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