PHARMACY

Aetna and Humana walk away from merger deal

BY Michael Johnsen

HARTFORD, Conn. — Aetna and Humana on Tuesday walked away from a joint merger that was originally valued at $37 billion, the companies announced. The companies decided to mutually end their merger agreement following a ruling from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia granting a United States Department of Justice request to enjoin the merger.

U.S. District Court Judge John Bates last month issued his ruling on a lawsuit between the companies and the federal government. The Dept. of Justice had sued on behalf of 264 counties in 21 states where it said a merger would limit competition unlawfully in the Medicare Advantage markets and 17 counties in three states where it said public exchange competition would be limited.
 
“While we continue to believe that a combined company would create greater value for health care consumers through improved affordability and quality, the current environment makes it too challenging to continue pursuing the transaction,” stated Mark Bertolini, Aetna chairman and CEO. “We are disappointed to take this course of action after 19 months of planning, but both companies need to move forward with their respective strategies in order to continue to meet member expectations. Our mutual respect for our companies’ capabilities has grown throughout this process, and we remain committed to a shared goal of helping drive the shift to a consumer-centric health care system.”

Aetna will pay Humana $1 billion as a result of the termination of the merger agreement. Additionally, Aetna has terminated its previously announced agreement to sell certain Medicare Advantage assets to Molina Healthcare and will pay the applicable fees associated with that termination.

 

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PHARMACY

GPhA changes name to the Association for Accessible Medicines

BY Brian Berk

WASHINGTON — The Generic Pharmaceutical Association on Tuesday unveiled a new national effort to contain the cost of prescription medicines. To help accomplish this goal, the group will now be called the Association for Accessible Medicines (AAM).

In coordination with the name change, the AAP is launching a new campaign “Keeping Medicines in Reach,” which shares the story of patients whose health and lives are improved by access to generic medicines.

“The association’s new identity will improve recognition that the generic and biosimilar medicines industry is one of the nation’s great health care success stories, and that competition from generics and biosimilars lowers the cost of medicine,” said Chip Davis, president and CEO, Association for Accessible Medicines. “Our medicines drive savings, not costs, and we stand ready to work with the President, Congress, patient groups and others to create real and lasting health cost solutions.

“Patients featured in our campaign, like Raeanne, a single mother of three in New York City, rely on generics to maintain their families’ health and use the savings to put the rest of their lives in reach, like filling the gas tank, paying for rent and putting food on the table. Without generics, so many Americans — our family, friends and neighbors — would face incredibly difficult choices between their health and life’s other essentials,” continued Davis.

According to the AAM, Generic medicines are nearly 90% of all prescriptions filled in the United States every year but only 27% of total drug costs. The Food and Drug Administration states that generics are typically 80-85% less expensive than their brand name drug equivalents. Separate studies project that biosimilars, alternatives to costly brand biologic medicines, could save our health care system up to $250 billion in the next ten years. Policies that reflect these market realities and appropriately differentiate the generic drug and brand drug business models can help increase patient access.

“Patients featured in our campaign, like Raeanne, a single mother of three in New York City, rely on generics to maintain their families’ health and use the savings to put the rest of their lives in reach, like filling the gas tank, paying for rent and putting food on the table. Without generics, so many Americans — our family, friends and neighbors — would face incredibly difficult choices between their health and life’s other essentials,” said Davis.

The new association identity was revealed during the industry’s annual meeting. The AAM also announced Jeff Watson, President, Global Generics, Apotex, was elected AAM Chairman, succeeding Mylan CEO Heather Bresch. The association elected Peter Goldschmidt, President, Sandoz U.S. and Head of North America, Sandoz, to be Vice-Chairman and Paul McGarty, President, Lupin Pharmaceuticals US, was elected Secretary-Treasurer. The AAM Board of Directors will expand to include representatives from all AAM member companies.

“Our evolution to the Association for Accessible Medicines reflects an industrywide recognition that it is time to amplify the critical cost savings and access that generics and biosimilars make possible,” said Watson. “I look forward to working with the AAM Board and leadership as well as policymakers, regulators, patient advocates, and other partners in support of patient-centered and market-based solutions designed to increase competition and have a positive impact on patients’ lives.”

To visit AAM’s website, click here:

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Benzer enters Colorado, Texas through franchise model

BY David Salazar
BYERS, Colo. and TOMBALL, Texas — Benzer Pharmacy, fresh off opening its first location in California, is continuing to enter new states. The Tampa, Fla.-based chain has opened its first stores in Colorado and Texas through its franchise model. 
 
The Texas location, owned by Jinal Shah, is located in Tomball, and the Colorado location is in Byers, and owned by Harry Patel, Siddarth Patel and Chetna Patel. The Colorado location was formerly known as Chase Pharmacy and is located inside the Byers General Store.
 
“We will assist patients with their medication requirements and answer any questions regarding their prescriptions.” Harry Patel said. “The pharmacy at Colorado has been in operation since 1968 and will continue to deliver to several locations in Bennett, Strasburg, Watkins, and Deer Trail. We plan to open another store in Colorado Springs.” 
 
The pharmacies will offer such services as competitive price matching on medication and refill reminders, as well as assistance with Medicare and Medicaid claims, among others. 
 
Benzer said that through its franchise model, it’s expecting to be in a strong position to negotiate drug prices with manufacturers while offering franchisees the recognition of a national brand, business coaching, and access to expert HR, marketing, accounting, compliance and operational support. 
 

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