PHARMACY

Health Alliance launches Rxtra

BY Alaric DeArment

URBANA, Ill. Midwestern health insurer Health Alliance is offering a program to help fully insured members with prescription coverage save money, the company said Wednesday.

The program, Rxtra, offers three tiers. Under the “Primary” tier, patients continue to pay for prescriptions based on their current copayment structure at Health Alliance network pharmacies; the “Preferred” tier allows patients to obtain certain commonly used medications for free; while the “Preferred Plus” tier allows patients to obtain those drugs as well as some cholesterol and asthma medications at such participating chain pharmacies as Walmart, Sam’s Club, Kroger, Kmart, Osco and others.

“Cost is one of the biggest reasons people don’t take their medications,” Health Alliance chief medical officer Robert Parker said. “If we can eliminate cost as a barrier, then our members will be healthier, which leads to a cost savings for both them and the health plan.”

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PHARMACY

CVS Caremark: Generic dispensing rates rise as plan member contributions drop

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. CVS Caremark’s annual insights report revealed an increase in generic dispensing rates as plan member contributions declined.

According to the 2010 Insights Report, which provides an annual review of drug trend performance for the company’s PBM client segments, 2009 drug trends show that CVS Caremark clients were able to manage pharmacy costs in the midst of the economic recession without passing along added costs to their members. In addition, plan sponsors increased their overall use of generics. These factors helped plan sponsors manage their costs while minimizing out-of-pocket costs for their members.

“While each of our client segments had different approaches and leveraged different tools, they all shared a priority in 2009 — finding ways to manage pharmacy costs,” stated Per Lofberg, president of CVS Caremark’s PBM business. “In these challenging economic times we worked with our clients to implement plan designs that would enable them to continue to control pharmacy costs while still providing their members with access to the medications they need, programs to support medication adherence and opportunities for out-of-pocket savings.”

Plan sponsors made few changes to member contributions levels last year and member contributions actually declined from 19% in 2008 to 15.7% in 2009. In addition, plan sponsors embraced opportunities to educate their members about the benefits of generic medications and encourage their use. This resulted in the CVS Caremark Book of Business generic dispensing rate increasing to 68.2% from 65.1% in 2008, despite a lack of significant generic drug introductions in 2009.

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Sandoz launches generic Exelon

BY Alaric DeArment

PRINCETON, N.J. Sandoz has launched a version of a drug for treating dementia, the generics arm of Swiss drug maker Novartis said.

Sandoz announced the launch of rivastigmine tartrate capsules in the 1.5 mg, 2 mg, 3 mg, 4.5 mg and 6-mg strengths. The drug is used to treat mild to moderate dementia associated with Alzheimer’s and Parksinson’s diseases.

The drug is an authorized generic version of Novartis’ Exelon, which had sales of $132.7 million during the 12-month period ended in March, according to IMS Health.

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