PHARMACY

Study finds lower copays for chronic conditions lead to increased compliance

BY Drew Buono

PHILADELPHIA A new study published in the January/February 2008 issue of Health Affairs, which was funded by GlaxoSmithKline, discovered that reduced prescription copayments leads to increase in the chance of a patient continually taking his/her medication for a chronic disease.

The medicines and chronic conditions studied were:

  • Heart Disease: angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers, and beta-blockers
  • Diabetes: medications including oral therapies and insulin
  • High Cholesterol: statins
  • Asthma: inhaled corticosteroids

Copayment rates for generic medications were reduced from $5 to $0; copayments for branded drugs were cut in half. A similar employer with identical disease management offerings and similar but stable copayments served as a control group.

Among the key findings of the study:

  • There was a statistically significant improvement in adherence for heart disease, diabetes, and high cholesterol.
  • The results were achieved in addition to the effects of existing disease management programs.
  • Value based insurance design programs can effectively increase adherence to important medications and complement existing disease management programs.

“We must encourage patients to take medications as prescribed for these chronic conditions, and encourage employers to support the health management efforts of their workers,” said Mark Fendrick, a coauthor of the study. “As a nation, we must look at the healthcare continuum, focusing on prevention to keep people healthier, giving patients the right treatments to maintain their health, and continuing the search for new cures.”

This study will be connected to other studies that have shown that increasing copays decrease use of medications for chronic conditions.

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PHARMACY

Gardasil vaccine recipients report extreme pain, fainting

BY Drew Buono

MELBOURNE CITY, Australia New reports have shown that the Gardasil vaccine, which is given in three doses to females between the ages of 9 and 26 to prevent against a sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical and vaginal cancer, has been causing extreme pain and also has made girls faints, according to reports from Australia.

Officials at Merck, which makes the vaccine, attributes it partly to the virus-like particles in the shot. Studies showed more reports of pain from Gardasil than from placebo shots, and patients reported more pain when given shots with more of the particles. While many say the pain is short-lived, some say driving or sleeping on the injected arm is uncomfortable for up to a day after.

U.S. health officials have noticed a rise in reports of vaccine-associated fainting in girls. From 2002-04 there were about 50 reports of fainting; from 2005 until last July, there were about 230. About 180 of those cases followed a shot of Gardasil, which came on to the market in 2006.

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Pfizer, Taisho announce partnership to develop schizophrenia treatment

BY Drew Buono

NEW YORK & TOKYO Pfizer and Taisho Pharmaceuticals have signed a definitive agreement to replace their letter of intent for the worldwide (excluding Japan) collaboration to research, develop and commercialize TS-032, a drug candidate for schizophrenia, as well as other central nervous system disorders that is currently in preclinical development.

Under the agreement, Taisho will receive an initial payment of $22 million from Pfizer. The company will also receive milestone payments related to progress of development, as well as royalties and milestone payments tied to sales if TS-032 is approved by regulatory authorities and launched.

“We are pleased to partner with Taisho in this important area of research. Schizophrenia is among the most chronic and disabling of mental health conditions and there still remains a significant need for novel treatment advances with improved efficacy and fewer side effects,” said Martin Mackay, president of Pfizer Global Research and Development. “Pfizer has a long-standing strength in developing and commercializing medications for the treatment of psychiatric illnesses, including Zoloft, Xanax and Geodon. This agreement highlights our commitment to pursue opportunities that align strategically with our key development priorities and strengthen our pipeline.”

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