PHARMACY

Public interest group welcomes regulation of direct-to-consumer genetic tests

BY Allison Cerra

WASHINGTON The Center for Genetics and Society recently praised the Food and Drug Administration’s decision to regulate the direct-to-consumer gene testing industry.

“For too long, the direct-to-consumer genetics industry has tried to have it both ways: advertising the medical importance of their tests’ information, but burying disclaimers that the tests are for ‘recreational’ or ‘educational’ purposes only,” said Jesse Reynolds, a policy analyst at the nonprofit policy research and advocacy organization. “Some gene tests can provide beneficial information, particularly in a clinical setting. But some direct-to-consumer gene tests are little better than snake oil. The FDA letters are steps toward protecting consumers and providing clarification for the industry.”

Medically relevant tests offered by DTC companies typically include those for genes related to sensitivity to prescription drugs, such as warfarin, and for genes linked to increased chances of developing serious, late-onset health conditions, such as cancer.

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Walgreens, CVS Caremark announce new PBM network agreement

BY Allison Cerra

WOONSOCKET, R.I., and DEERFIELD, Ill. The nation’s top drug store chains have reached a new agreement in which one will continue as a participating member of the other’s pharmacy benefit management network.

Nearly two weeks after Walgreens announced that it would terminate its provider relationship with CVS Caremark’s PBM network — to which CVS Caremark responded it would terminate Walgreens’ participation in its retail pharmacy networks in 30 days for violating contract agreements — the two pharmacy giants have reached an agreement in which Walgreens will continue participating in the CVS Caremark pharmacy benefit management national retail network for existing, new or renewal plans. With the continuing participation of Walgreens, the CVS Caremark national pharmacy network will have more than 64,000 participating pharmacies, including neighborhood independent pharmacies, chain pharmacies and those located in supermarkets and other major retailers.

The companies are not disclosing the financial terms of the new contract.

“We are very pleased with the outcome of this mutual, multiyear agreement that meets our business objectives,” said Kermit Crawford, Walgreens EVP pharmacy. “The agreement makes good business sense, provides the framework we need to operate our business going forward and assures choice and convenience for the many consumers who look to us for quality pharmacy care. The agreement is good for our patients, pharmacists and shareholders, and will allow us to continue to meet the needs of our customers across the country through the CVS Caremark network.”

Per Lofberg, president of CVS Caremark’s PBM business, added, “We are pleased to have reached a mutually agreeable solution together with Walgreens that is consistent with our top priority to provide convenient access to affordable, high-quality pharmacy health care. This new contract enables Walgreens to continue participating in CVS Caremark’s PBM national pharmacy network, provides enhanced network stability, eliminates any current or long-term disruption for our clients or their members and allows us to continue to fulfill our obligation to deliver cost-effective pharmacy benefits for our clients.”

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Mylan gets approval for generic Zocor

BY Alaric DeArment

PITTSBURGH The Food and Drug Administration has approved a generic cholesterol medication made by Mylan, the company said Friday.

The FDA approved Mylan’s simvastatin tablets in the 5 mg, 10 mg, 20 mg, 40 mg and 80 mg strengths. The drug is a generic version of Merck’s Zocor.

Various versions of Simvastatin had sales of $361 million during the 12-month period ended in March, according to IMS Health.

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