PHARMACY

CVS Caremark, Universal American end Prescription Pathway alliance

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. CVS Caremark and Universal American Corp. announced on Wednesday that they are ending their alliance covering the Prescription Pathway Medicare Part D prescription drug plan as of Dec. 31, 2008.

Upon dissolving the alliance, SilverScript Insurance Co., which is CVS Caremark’s Medicare Part D PDP, and Universal American will each assume responsibility for the drug benefit of specified Prescription Pathway plan members to achieve an approximately equal distribution of the value of the business.

Since its inception of the program in 2006, Universal American has offered Medicare Part D prescription drug plans through its Prescription Pathway products in conjunction with Caremark Pharmacy Services, a subsidiary of CVS Caremark.

“As we approach the end of the initial 3-year term of our joint venture, and in light of CVS’ merger with Caremark, we decided to consolidate our Part D business under our SilverScript PDP,” stated Tom Ryan, chairman, president and chief executive officer of CVS Caremark. “The people at Universal American have been a pleasure to work with, and we will end this venture with appreciation for their efforts.

The move will not affect the Prescription Pathways Part D plan offering in 2008, in which about 550,000 members are currently enrolled.

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FDA gives Hi-Tech Pharmacal approval for generic Hycodan

BY Adam Kraemer

AMITYVILLE, N.Y. Hi-Tech Pharmacal Co. announced that the Food and Drug Administration has granted an approval to the company’s application for hydrocodone bitartrate and homatropine methylbromide syrup, the generic equivalent of Endo Pharmaceuticals’ Hycodan. Hydrocodone bitartrate and homatropine methylbromide syrup is indicated for symptomatic cough relief.

Hi-Tech specializes in difficult-to-manufacture liquid and semi-solid dosage forms of generic medications and produces a range of sterile ophthalmic, otic and inhalation products.

Hydrocodone bitartrate and homatropine methylbromide syrup had sales of approximately $5 million for 2006, according to IMS Health data. Hi-Tech expects to start marketing the product immediately.

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Study suggests epilepsy drug does not prevent migrains

BY Adam Kraemer

NEW YORK New research has suggested that the anti-epilepsy drug oxcarbazepine does not appear to prevent migraine headaches.

According to a study published in the journal Neurology by Stephen Silberstein of the Jefferson Headache Center in Philadelphia, some anti-epilepsy drugs have shown success in the prevention of migraine, and reports have suggested that oxcarbazepine—marketed by Novartis as Trileptal—would be effective as well. However, results of a study lasting almost five months, showed no difference between the oxcarbazepine and placebo groups in the change in the number of migraine attacks from the beginning to the end of the study.

The severity of the attacks and the amount of acute rescue medication required also was not affected by treatment allocation. “The results of this trial do not support preliminary data that had suggested oxcarbazepine was effective in preventing migraine,” Silberstein noted in a written statement. “While several epilepsy drugs have been used for decades to prevent migraine, oxcarbazepine did not prevent migraine in this study despite it being shown to be safe and well-tolerated.”

Silberstein also noted that the three epilepsy drugs that most effectively prevent migraine headaches—topiramate, divalproex and gabapentin—have several mechanisms by which they treat migraines, including the ability to regulate a brain chemical known as GABA. In contrast, oxcarbazepine has no apparent activity on GABA. Silberstein says it’s possible that epilepsy drugs must be able to regulate this specific brain chemical in order to prevent migraine headaches.

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