PHARMACY

Costco offers Aetna insurance to California members

BY Alaric DeArment

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. — Aetna is offering individual health insurance plans to Costco members in California, the health insurer said.

The Costco Personal Health Insurance program includes five plans and offers broad medical benefits, dental options and a large network of doctors and hospitals. The program also is available to members of the club retailer in Arizona, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia. Aetna plans to expand the program to other markets in the coming months.

"We recognize the importance of providing affordable health solutions that deliver value and convenience to individuals and families," Aetna head of individual business Barbara DeMaio said. "We are proud to join with a respected retailer like Costco to provide health insurance options to their members in California."

Aetna said Costco was providing such benefits as lower copays on prescriptions at Costco pharmacies to members, and plans include special features and lower monthly premiums negotiated only for Costco members.

"There are a variety of plan types to choose from, each offering the right combination of quality, value and special members-only benefits," Costco director of insurance services John Conlon said.


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PHARMACY

Estrogen patch, described as smallest, available at pharmacies

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — A patch for treating menopause that the manufacturer calls the smallest is now available.

Noven Pharmaceuticals announced the availability of Minivelle (estradiol) transdermal system in pharmacies. The patch, which the Food and Drug Administration approved in October 2012, is designed for treating hot flashes and night sweats in women with menopause.

The patch has a surface area nearly the same as a dime at its lowest strength of 0.0375 mg-per-day and is 34% smaller than Noven’s Vivelle-Dot patch, the company said.


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FDA panel recommends approval for Boehringer Ingelheim COPD drug

BY Alaric DeArment

RIDGEFIELD, Conn. — A panel of Food and Drug Administration experts has recommended approval for an experimental drug made by Boehringer Ingelheim for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, the drug maker said.

BI announced that the FDA’s Pulmonary-Allergy Drugs Advisory Committee recommended approval of the drug olodaterol, which the company plans to market under the name Striverdi Respimat. The drug is a once-daily bronchodilator treatment for airflow obstruction in patients with COPD, including chronic bronchitis and emphysema. The FDA is not required to follow advisory committee decisions when deciding whether or not to approve a drug, but usually does.

"We at Boehringer Ingelheim are pleased with the advisory committee’s recommendation and look forward to continuing to work with the FDA as the agency continues its review of the olodaterol [new drug application]," BI Pharmaceuticals VP clinical development and medical affairs for respiratory Tunde Otulana said. "The positive vote from the advisory committee marks an important step toward making olodaterol available to the approximately 24 million patients with COPD in the United States."


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