PHARMACY

Counterfeit Avastin circulating in U.S., FDA warns

BY Alaric DeArment

SILVER SPRING, Md. — Fake versions of a cancer drug made by Roche’s U.S. unit have entered the United States, the Food and Drug Administration warned Wednesday.

The FDA advised healthcare professionals and patients that a counterfeit version of Genentech’s Avastin (bevacizumab) had been distributed in the United States. The agency said the counterfeit versions carried Roche’s logo instead of Genentech’s and displayed batch numbers starting with B6010, B6011 or B86017.

The FDA said 19 medical practices in the United States had purchased unapproved cancer medications from a foreign supplier called Quality Specialty Products, also known as Montana Health Care Solutions, while a Gainesboro, Tenn.-based company called Volunteer Distribution was a distributor of QSP’s products. The agency said medical practices that had obtained products from Volunteer Distribution and QSP should stop using them an contact the FDA.

 


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PHARMACY

Managed care plans prefer generic over branded Lipitor

BY Alaric DeArment

PHOENIX — Managed care and prescription plans are working to switch patients to generic versions of Pfizer’s Lipitor despite the drug maker’s efforts to reduce costs for the branded version, a new study suggested.

According to a report released Wednesday by Wolters Kluwer Pharma Solutions’ inThought research group, while Lipitor (atorvastatin) has 41% of the market share of all dispensed prescriptions of atorvastatin, it has 35% of the payer approval volume.

"At 41% of market share, Lipitor is ahead of the game, at least compared [with] Aricept (donepezil hydrochloride) and Cozaar (losartan), both blockbuster drugs that lost patent protection in the last two years," Wolters Kluwer inThought analyst and author of the report Rusty Jones said, referring to an Alzheimer’s disease drug made by Pfizer and Eisai and a blood pressure drug made by Merck, respectively. "Our latest data, however, show that it may be losing more ground than the traditional prescription data suggest, especially on the important battleground of managed care coverage."

The report noted that Pfizer has used several managed care strategies to maintain its brand share of the drug, which lost patent protection in November 2011 and now faces competition from a generic version made by Ranbaxy Labs. But despite Pfizer’s efforts to lower patient costs, it has retained less than half the total atorvastatin pill count, 10 weeks after the generic became available.

"Since the 35% approval volume is lower than Lipitor’s current market share, the claims data suggest that Lipitor volumes will continue to decline," Jones said. "Despite the discounts, managed care plans are still financially motivated to put their patients on generic atorvastatin."

 


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PHARMACY

OptumRx earns URAC specialty pharmacy accreditation

BY Allison Cerra

IRVINE, Calif. — A pharmacy benefit management organization has received accreditation for its specialty pharmacy program.

OptumRx said it earned accreditation from URAC, an independent, nonprofit organization that promotes healthcare quality through its accreditation, education and measurement programs.

The specialty pharmacy program offers members comprehensive and coordinated delivery and support services for high-cost oral or injectable medications, which are used to treat complex chronic conditions, OptumRx said.


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