PHARMACY

BioSante to distribute, market menopause treatment in the United States

BY Allison Cerra

LINCOLNSHIRE, Ill. BioSante Pharmaceuticals announced the initiation of sales and marketing activity of Elestrin (estradiol gel) by Azur Pharma, BioSante’s licensee in the United States.

Azur licensed rights to Elestrin from BioSante in December 2008. Elestrin was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in December 2006 and is patented through June 2022.

Elestrin (estradiol gel 0.06%) is a clean, clear, fast-drying estrogen formulation for the treatment of vasomotor symptoms associated with menopause. It is supplied in a dose-metered pump with the flexibility of delivering either a one-pump or a two-pump dose. The one-pump dose systemically delivers one of the lowest effective doses of estrogen approved by the FDA. The formulation is applied once daily over a small area of the upper arm, and provides up to three months of therapy in a single prescription.

 “We are excited to announce Azur’s launch of Elestrin,” said Stephen Simes, president and CEO of BioSante. “We believe Azur has excellent, established relationships with the leading U.S. gynecological practitioners who write the majority of estrogen prescriptions. We also believe Azur is in an excellent position to capture an important share of the U.S. estrogen therapy market, which is currently estimated at approximately $1.4 billion in annual sales.”

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Optimer receives production patent for CDI treatment

BY Alaric DeArment

SAN DIEGO The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has issued a production patent to Optimer Pharmaceuticals covering steps used in the manufacture of fidaxomicin, Optimer announced Monday.

The drug is in phase 3 testing as a treatment for Clostridium difficile infection, also known as CDI.

“The issuance of this production patent is another important milestone in strengthening the patent estate of our lead product candidate, fidaxomicin,” Optimer president and CEO Michael Chang stated. “We believe this patent and the issued polymorphic Form A patent, along with additional pending patent applications, will enhance our intellectual property protection for fidaxomicin.”

CDI causes inflammation of the colon, which often results in diarrhea but can also cause death in extreme cases.

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Walgreens sees boom in e-prescriptions

BY Jim Frederick

DEERFIELD, Ill. The shift to paperless prescribing took a big leap forward at Walgreens in March, with a tripling in the number of prescriptions filled electronically from year-earlier levels. And new government incentives to doctors will quickly push that level higher still, Walgreens predicted.

Walgreens pharmacies filled a record 3.1 million prescriptions electronically last month, marking a 211% increase compared with March of last year, the company reported Monday. Even more striking: the total number of scripts sent via doctors’ e-prescribing systems and filled by Walgreens last month accounted for 15% of all the drug store chain’s eligible prescriptions.

Walgreens estimated it will fill more than 40 million electronic prescriptions this year, compared with 15 million filled in 2008. The company said it expects growth to continue, as the federal government in January began providing financial incentives for doctors to transmit prescriptions electronically for Medicare patients as part of its campaign to nudge the nation’s healthcare system toward health information technology and electronic record-keeping.

Under that incentive program, doctors will earn a 2% bonus on their covered Medicare reimbursements for every Medicare script they transmit electronically instead of via a handwritten prescription handed to the patient.

Don Huonker, Walgreens’ senior VP of heath care innovation, hailed the continued growth in e-prescriptions and said it contributes to lower health care costs and better patient health.

“Prescriptions transmitted electronically increase the likelihood that patients will get their prescriptions filled, benefit from their drug therapy and avoid more expensive medical procedures,” Huonker said. “E-prescribing improves patient safety and quality of care by reducing medication errors and adverse drug events while also reducing time spent on the phone with physician offices to clarify hand-written prescriptions. The fewer times our pharmacists need to call a physician’s office and verify a prescription, the more time they have to focus on drug interactions, the right dosing and patient consultation.”

Walgreens launched an early, rudimentary e-prescribing network in 1992, making it “the first pharmacy to launch an electronic prescribing system” as well as “the industry leader in filling electronic prescriptions,” the company asserts in a statement. Nationally, some 4% of all eligible prescriptions were transmitted electronically last year, according to SureScripts, the country’s largest secure electronic prescribing network.

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