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CVS Caremark ranks among ‘World’s Most Admired’

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. CVS Caremark has been named the most admired company in its industry, the food and drug stores sector, by Fortune magazine.

“This achievement reflects the deep commitment that our CVS Caremark colleagues across the country have made to our mission of providing our customers with innovative solutions in pharmacy and health care. We couldn’t be more pleased to be named the most admired company in our industry,” stated Tom Ryan, chairman, president and CEO of CVS Caremark.

In addition innovation and shareholder value, Fortune’s scorecard for CVS Caremark included second-place honors in the categories of people management, use of corporate assets and financial soundness.

This result will be published, along with the magazine’s full “World’s Most Admired Companies” results, on March 22. The annual Fortune ranking is based on national surveys of investment analysts, board of directors and business executives.

CVS Caremark’s No. 1 rank in Fortune’s Most-Admired Companies survey follows the company’s recent inclusion in the 100 Best Corporate Citizens List as ranked by Corporate Responsibility Magazine.

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SXC Health Solutions signs PBM contract with HealthSpring

BY Allison Cerra

LISLE, Ill. A leading provider of pharmacy benefit management products and services announced that its informedRx PBM unit has been awarded a contract with HealthSpring.

The initial term of the contract is three years with provisions for two additional one-year extensions. HealthSpring, based in Nashville, Tenn., offers Medicare Advantage plans across seven states to over 193,000 members and a national stand-alone Medicare prescription drug plan to 387,000 members. SXC will provide HealthSpring with its full suite of PBM services which include:

  • Mail order pharmacy
  • Specialty pharmacy
  • Retail network management
  • Medicare compliance services
  • Patient care clinical services

HealthSpring will deploy mail and specialty pharmacy services beginning in 2010, with implementation of the full PBM services on Jan. 1, 2011.

“The flexibility of SXC’s full service PBM offering, combined with its expertise in Medicare Part D, aligns perfectly with our commitment to design competitive products and provide high quality healthcare benefits to Medicare members,” said Michael Mirt, HealthSpring president and COO. “We manage our Medicare Advantage plans locally and require customized benefits programs throughout our network, which made SXC, with its flexible PBM service model, an ideal partner to help us achieve our service and cost containment objectives.”

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Biosimilars could bring down specialty drug spending

BY Alaric DeArment

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT If Medicare Part D is to remain solvent in the future, then lawmakers may want to take a closer look at the more than 10% of spending on drugs under the program that has gone toward specialty drugs — some of the most expensive drugs on the market — and find ways to come up with cheaper alternatives.

(THE NEWS: GAO: Specialty drugs accounted for 10% of Medicare Part D spending in 2007. For the full story, click here)

The Government Accountability Office reported that of the $54.4 billion spent on prescription drugs under Medicare Part D in 2007, $5.6 billion went toward specialty drugs. Many specialty drugs — particularly those for cancer and autoimmune disorders, are biologics — which can cost thousands of dollars for a month’s supply and for which no generic alternatives are available. In addition, while Alzheimer’s disease often falls outside the traditional “specialty” realm, many treatments for it in the pipeline are biologics as well.

One way to save money to patients and the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services alike would be to create an abbreviated regulatory approval pathway for follow-on biologics, also known as biosimilars and biogenerics, similar to the one that has existed for generic pharmaceutical drugs since 1984.

As long as it gave innovator companies ample opportunity to recoup their investments and didn’t leave patients and payers waiting too long before biosimilars became available, such a pathway could go a long way toward bringing down the costs associated with cutting-edge treatments.

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