PHARMACY

Merck announces global consolidation plan

BY Alaric DeArment

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. Merck will close down eight of its research and development sites and eight of its manufacturing sites as part of a global consolidation plan, the drug maker said Thursday.

The plan will result in around 15% of the company’s staff being laid off as Merck seeks to create a “flexible” research and development organization that focuses on innovation, external collaboration and growth in the company’s product pipeline.

“Today’s announcement is another important step as we successfully integrate our global operations on schedule and move forward with Merck’s strategic priorities,” chairman and CEO Richard Clark said. “These changes are crucial to drive future growth and realize the promise of being a global healthcare leader for the long term.”

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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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