PHARMACY

Centene purchases specialty pharmacy AcariaHealth

BY Alaric DeArment

ST. LOUIS — Centene Corp. has purchased specialty pharmacy provider AcariaHealth for a combination of cash and stock, Centene said Tuesday.

Monday’s purchase of AcariaHealth, formally known as Specialty Therapeutic Care Holdings, was financed through a combination of 1.7 million shares of Centene stock, cash and up to $15.3 million of Centene stock from an equity offering related to funding.

Centene said it expected the acquisition to be neutral to earnings per share in the first 12 months, and that it was working with AcariaHealth to ensure a seamless transition for customers and others.

 

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PHARMACY

Federal court rules in favor of Actavis in generic asthma drug case

BY Alaric DeArment

PARSIPPANY, N.J. — A court has ruled in favor of generic drug maker Actavis concerning its generic version of a drug to treat asthma in children, the company said.

Actavis said the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey had ruled Actavis’ generic version of AstraZeneca’s Pulmicort Respules (budesonide inhalation suspension) in the 0.25-mg, 0.5-mg and 1-mg strengths did not infringe one of AstraZeneca’s patents on the drug, while another patent covering the drug was invalid. Actavis’ generic versions of the first two strengths for the drug received Food and Drug Administration approval in August 2012, while the 1-mg strength is still awaiting approval.

Pulmicort Respules is used as a maintenance medicine to control and prevent asthma symptoms in children ages 12 months to 8 years. Various versions of the drug had sales of about $1.2 billion during the 12-month period that ended in January, Actavis said.

 

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Study finds specialty drug costs increase 15% annually

BY Alaric DeArment

SAN DIEGO — Specialty drugs are expected to account for 50% of all drug costs by 2018, according to two new studies.

By contrast, specialty drugs accounted for 20% of all drug costs in 2009, but increased to 28.7% by 2012. Pharmacy benefit manager Prime Therapeutics and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota conducted the studies, and Prime is presenting them Tuesday at the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy’s 25th annual meeting and expo in San Diego.

"The increasing rate of specialty drugs expenses is due to increased non-specialty generic use; expected continued pharmaceutical, manufacturer, annual, double-digit price increases; increasing specialty drug use and future pipeline of new specialty drugs," Prime director of health outcomes Patrick Gleason said.

The studies, based on pharmacy and medical claims from 1.2 million commercially insured and continuously enrolled members receiving a drug for hepatitis C or rheumatoid arthritis, focused on cost-of-care trends for the two disease states.

In one, researchers found that despite use of specialty drugs for hepatitis C decreasing from 17.2% to 14.1% between 2008 and 2011, the compound annual growth rate during that time was 15%, and specialty drug costs accounted for $13,332 of the total $38,055 cost for hepatitis C care in 2008; by 2011, that figure had risen to $30,415 of $57,799.

The other study found that rheumatoid arthritis drug use rose from 34.6% to 35.4% between 2008 and 2010, with a compound annual growth rate in the cost of care of 7.3%. All other medical costs were $11,252 in 2008 and $13,710 in 2010, and combined medical and specialty drug costs for the disease accounted for $16,218 of $29,652, or 54.7%, in 2008. In 2010, the percentage was lower, at 53%, though costs accounted for $18,098 of $34,163.

"These studies show the RA and hep C pharmacy costs now go beyond all medical costs, therefore the expected medical savings cannot offset the specialty drug investment," Gleason said. "As pharmacy benefit managers and health plans strive to work to improve the quality of care for individuals with specialty drug needs, the expected increases in cost of care can be lessened through specialty pharmacy management programs."


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