PHARMACY

Cardinal bolsters Leader network

BY Jim Frederick

DUBLIN, Ohio —For nearly three decades, Leader Pharmacies has beckoned independent drug store owners with the promise of safe harbor in stormy economic times. Over the past 18 months, as the economy staggered and consumer spending plummeted, that safe harbor may have kept some independents afloat.

Cardinal Health acquired Leader, a buying and marketing cooperative, shortly after its incorporation in 1987. Bolstered by the steady infusion of technology and marketing support from its corporate parent, Leader has become a widely recognized pharmacy brand. Some 3,500 Leader drug stores now operate in urban, smalltown and rural markets, averaging upward of $3 million a year, according to one Cardinal executive. Those stores “can take advantage of a vast array of marketing and support services,” the company reported.

Cardinal’s toolkit for Leader includes automated replenishment and pricing systems, exclusive branding programs and product lines, support for immunization programs and other clinical services, and LeaderNET, a service aimed at putting Leader store owners on a more equal footing with pharmacy benefit managers. The program provides negotiating prowess and expertise, access to new niche markets, membership in a provider network and other services, according to Steve Lawrence, Cardinal’s SVP independent sales.

In February, Cardinal unveiled new enhancements to LeaderNET to boost third-party prescription payments and strengthen independents’ position visà-vis managed care contractors. “In the past year alone, Cardinal Health has more than doubled the number of long-term care contracts it offers LeaderNET members,” said spokeswoman Tara Schumacher. “The company has recently added contracts for niche markets, including immunizations and 90-day medication supply programs.”

Added Lawrence, “Customers who use all of our managed care services experience an average annual savings of $42,000 to $70,000 per year.”

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Late-stage clinical trial of Avastin fails to meet expectations, Genentech says

BY Alaric DeArment

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. A late-stage clinical trial of a Genentech drug for men with late-stage prostate cancer has failed, the biotech company announced Friday.

Genentech, part of Swiss drug maker Roche, announced that a phase 3 trial of Avastin (bevacizumab) combined with prednisone and the chemotherapy drug docetaxel did not extend the amount of time that patients survived, compared with chemotherapy and prednisone alone.

The drug already has approval from the Food and Drug Administration for treating tumors and cancers of the lungs, colon, rectum, breasts, kidneys and brain.

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Abbott’s submits supplemental approval application for Lupron Depot to FDA

BY Alaric DeArment

ABBOTT PARK, Ill. Abbott is hoping that the Food and Drug Administration will approve one of its drugs as a treatment for advanced prostate cancer.

The Chicago-based drug maker announced Thursday that the FDA accepted its supplemental approval application for Lupron Depot (leuprolide acetate) in the 45-mg strength. The drug, an injectable, works by suppressing production of testosterone for six months. It is currently available in 7.5-mg, 22.5-mg and 30-mg formulations that work for one, three and four months.

“For many patients with advanced prostate cancer, Lupron Depot is an important treatment option because it can help manage the symptoms of their disease,” Abbott VP global pharmaceutical development Eugene Sun said in a statement. “Abbott is seeking approval for a new six-month formulation to provide greater convenience and dosing flexibility to physicians and patients who could benefit form this medication.”

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