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Asana BioSciences acquires drug discovery platform from Endo Pharmaceuticals

BY Ryan Chavis

BRIDGEWATER, N.J. — Asana BioSciences, a research and development company specializing in the discovery and development of new chemical and biological entities, on Tuesday announced that it has acquired an early stage branded pharmaceutical discovery platform from Endo Pharmaceuticals. Asana’s portfolio is comprised of multiple compounds for oncology and pain indications that are ready to enter clinical trials, the company said.

Asana is based in Bridgewater, N.J., and is led by Dr. Sandeep Gupta, CEO, who recently served as SVP of discovery and early development at Endo Pharmaceuticals.

“Asana’s mission is to develop novel and clinically differentiated products that address unmet clinical needs and provide new treatment options to physicians and patients," Gupta said. "Our team consists of highly experienced scientists who have successfully executed several drug discovery and clinical development projects. I am very excited about this portfolio and am looking forward to initiating our First-in-Man trials for our lead asset and moving other assets into clinical development.”

Asana is an independent member of the Amneal Alliance of Companies, which is made up of independent companies that focus on various disciplines within the life sciences. Other members include Amneal Pharmaceuticals, Therapeutic Proteins International, Kashiv Pharma and Prolong Pharmaceuticals.

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Walgreens makes offering of talking prescription devices to those with visual impairments

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. – Walgreens on Tuesday announced the launch of a nationwide program offering talking prescription devices to customers with visual impairments. The initiative introduces a new service that complements other accessible prescription information Walgreens currently provides.

Walgreens is the first in the industry to offer this exclusive talking prescription device, tthe Talking Pill Reminder, at its retail locations chainwide, the company stated. The device attaches to prescription containers and will be provided free of charge with prescription medications that Walgreens dispenses to its pharmacy customers who are blind or who have visual impairments. The Talking Pill Reminder can be recorded to speak the information on the customer’s prescription medication label, and also has an audible alarm to remind patients when to take a medication.

The Talking Pill Reminder is available to customers of Walgreens retail pharmacies across the country and through Walgreens prescription mail service. The devices also are available in Walgreens for purchase for a retail price of $9.99.

“Adherence to medication can be critical in treating illness today, and this is an innovation that will help our visually impaired customers correctly identify and take medications as prescribed,” said Jeff Koziel, Walgreens group VP pharmacy operations.

The initiative is the result of a collaboration between Walgreens, the American Council of the Blind and the ACB affiliates in California and Illinois.

“Accessible prescription information is critical to people who are blind, and with today’s announcement, Walgreens assumes a significant leadership role in serving its customers with visual impairments,” said ACB president Kim Charlson.

In addition to providing the Talking Pill Reminder, Walgreens also offers large print patient information sheets to customers who have visual impairments.

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Report: Consumers in exchanges receiving federal assistance may experience inconsistent reductions

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON – A new analysis from Avalere Health released Tuesday found that consumers in exchanges receiving federal assistance to reduce their out-of-pocket costs may experience inconsistent reductions in spending depending on the plan they choose. Specifically, the data show broad differences in how issuers amend plan designs to meet cost-sharing requirements for those receiving cost-sharing reductions. While almost all plans reduce deductibles and out-of-pocket caps in CSR plans, many plans do not lower cost-sharing for other treatments and services, particularly specialty drugs.

“Many people assume that the lowest-income exchange enrollees will have reduced cost-sharing across all services, but the reality is quite different,” said Caroline Pearson, VP Avalere Health. “While all plans must have reduced out-of-pocket limits for individuals earning less than 250% of poverty, how consumers will reach those limits differ significantly. For example, consumers may not experience reduced cost-sharing amounts for drugs or physician visits in many plans.”

Avalere also found that average maximum out-of-pocket limits in CSR plans are lower than those required by the Affordable Care Act. Specifically, among 87% AV CSR plans, the average out-of-pocket limit is $450 (or 20%) lower than required, while among 94% AV CSR plans, the average out-of-pocket maximum is $1,140 (or 22%) less.

“Issuers will continue to have flexibility in how they design cost sharing reduction plans in 2015,” said Dan Mendelson, CEO Avalere Health. “Looking ahead, consumers who qualify for cost-sharing reductions should look closely at how the plan benefit is structured because it could have a major impact on their actual out-of-pocket costs.”

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