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Actavis launches generic hypertension, chest pain drug

BY Alaric DeArment

MORRISTOWN, N.J. — Actavis has launched a generic drug for high blood pressure and chest pain, the company said.

Actavis, which recently agreed to an acquisition by Watson Pharmaceuticals, announced the launch of nifedipine extended-release tablets in the 90-mg strength, a generic version of Bayer’s Adalat CC.

Various versions of the drug had sales of about $23 million in 2011, according to IMS Health.


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CVS Caremark Charitable Trust opens 2012 grant application process

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Caremark Charitable Trust, a private foundation created by CVS Caremark, announced the 2012 grant application process now is open to eligible nonprofit organizations seeking funding.

The trust’s mission: To provide funding for health care, education and community involvement initiatives that help people on their path to better health in CVS Caremark communities.

The CVS Caremark Charitable Trust is inviting nonprofit organizations that are aligned with its mission to submit a letter of intent that provides a brief synopsis of a proposed grant request and a general understanding of the problem or issue the applicant organization seeks to address, how a one-time grant will address the specific need and the applicant organization’s capacity to have a lasting impact on the target audience and problem.

This year, the CVS Caremark Charitable Trust seeks to support programs and initiatives in two main areas of focus intended to meet one of four specific goals:

Access to health care

  • Support innovative approaches to expanding access to health care for vulnerable populations, including support for mobile health innovations that enhance access to health care and bring health care to locations where people need it.

Children and inclusion

  • Increase inclusive options for children with disabilities for physical activity, creativity and play, such as recreational, youth development, camps and school-based programs, including support for physical accommodations and training of staff to allow more children with disabilities to actively participate in these programs;

  • Coordinate and improve healthcare services for children with disabilities and/or special healthcare needs, including providing a continuum of care between disciplines to have a whole view of a child’s needs — such as an occupational therapist and feeding specialist meeting with the child together — or technology needs; and

  • Increase access to and appropriate use of early intervention services for children of all abilities, including support to enhance training and education of pediatricians, parents and others to improve services, referrals and care. The organization helps to educate professionals and parents about autism and other developmental disorders, and the benefits of early intervention via print, press, broadcast, conferences and website information.

All letters of intent must be submitted online before June 29. For more information on the CVS Caremark Charitable Trust grant application guidelines and program funding requirements, click here.

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Lower medical inflation expected in 2013, report finds

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — The slow economy, cost cutting and lower use of services by patients looking to save money will combine to cause healthcare spending to grow at a "historically" low rate in 2013, according to a new report released Thursday.

The PricewaterhouseCoopers Health Research Institute found in its annual "Behind the Numbers" report that medical inflation has held at between 7% and 7.5% since 2010. While healthcare spending often has gone back up in economic recoveries, the report found that four years of relatively low growth may be narrowing the gap between healthcare spending and overall inflation to what it called a more sustainable level.

"Slower growth in healthcare costs could be the ‘new normal,’" PwC human resource services principal Michael Thompson said. "We’re seeing long-term trends that could keep cost increases in check."

According to a survey of 1,400 employers, they are using two primary strategies to contain healthcare costs, including increasing employees’ share of costs and expanding health-and-wellness programs. "As employers shift expenses to their employees, for example, these workers are pursuing lower-cost alternatives," Thompson said. "Even as the economy strengthens, changes in behavior by employers and consumers may help limit medical growth."

The report further found that average enrollment in high-deductible plans, coupled with a health reimbursement account, has increased from 34.2% in 2010 to 43.2% in 2012, while nearly three-quarters of employers are offering wellness programs, with half of those saying they plan on expanding them. Half of employers are planning to increase cost sharing through plan design, such as higher deductibles, while more than half are considering raising employee prescription drug plan costs.

PwC also found four factors that would deflate the medical cost trend in 2013, namely market pressure to reduce supply and equipment costs, increased popularity of new methods to deliver primary care, increased availability of comparitive cost information and accelerated savings from the pharmaceutical patent cliff.

"Market forces are driving demands for better outcomes and reasonable costs," PwC U.S. health industries leader Kelly Barnes said. "The question is, how will industry respond? We expect to see health organizations create services and partnerships that engage consumers and improve quality. It isn’t just dollars spent, but value derived." 


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