PHARMACY

Drug makers invested $49.5 billion in R&D in 2011, report finds

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — Drug companies invested nearly $50 billion in research and development in 2011, according to a new report by a drug industry trade group.

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America said in its latest report that with $49.5 billion of investment, the biopharmaceutical sector accounted for the single largest share of all U.S. business research and development, and related expenditures among PhRMA member companies represented 21.1% of domestic sales.

"Despite facing market, scientific and regulatory challenges, the U.S. biopharmaceutical sector, led by our member companies, has remained a major contributor to American innovation," PhRMA president and CEO John Castellani said. "Our member companies’ investment represents a boost to America’s economy, with 78% of those dollars invested on our shores."

PhRMA said the Food and Drug Administration approved 35 new drugs last year, one of the highest annual totals in the last decade, including two personalized medicines for cancer, 11 for rare diseases and the first new lupus drug since 1955. Personalized medicine represents a major area of investment, with 94% of companies in a recent survey by the Tufts University Center for the Study of Drug Development responding that they currently are investing in the field.

 


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PHARMACY

Mylan launches fluvastatin capsules

BY Alaric DeArment

PITTSBURGH — The Food and Drug Administration has approved a generic drug for lipid disorders made by Mylan, the company said Friday.

Mylan announced the approval and launch of fluvastatin capsules in the 20-mg and 40-mg strengths, a generic version of Novartis’ Lescol. The drug is used to treat hypercholesterolemia and mixed dyslipidemia, as well as prevention of cardiovascular disease.

The drug had sales of $27.9 million in 2011, according to IMS Health.


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PHARMACY

Walmart, Humana team up for Rx4Value program

BY Mike Troy

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Walmart and healthcare partner Humana are out with a new prescription drug program called Rx4Value that guarantees savings and relies on the proven strategy of improving affordability by restricting choice to generic drugs.

Humana Pharmacy Solutions, the pharmacy benefit management subsidiary of Humana, said the new formulary and the Walmart Rx Network guarantee up to 20% savings on employers’ average prescription price. Those claims are possible in part because the new Rx4Value formulary replaces certain brand-name drugs with generic alternatives that Humana said are equally effective and provide greater cost savings. The program is available to self-insured employers and will be available to fully-insured employers later this year.

The new Walmart Rx Network will allow employers to select a Walmart-focused network for their employees to fill their prescriptions. The network offers self-insured employers an average of 10% savings on their annual average prescription price, according to Humana. The new Rx4Value formulary provides comprehensive therapeutic coverage while saving self-insured employers an average of 15% on their members’ annual average prescription price. Both options are available individually and can be combined for compounded savings, according to Humana. In total, self-insured employers who select both the network and formulary options will be able to save up to 20% on their annual average prescription price, meaning that a self-insured employer with 1,000 employees could achieve savings of as much as $400,000 per year, according to Humana.

“At Walmart, we’re committed to providing low-cost prescriptions and ensuring that people have affordable access to the medications they need to help them live healthier lives,” said John Agwunobi, president of Walmart U.S. health and wellness. “We are proud to team with Humana on this innovative benefit.”

William Fleming, president of Humana Pharmacy Solutions, called the program a simple and cost effective approach that helps employers better predict costs and save money.

“Pharmacy is the most used health benefit, and providing new, unique pharmacy benefits services that best meet employers’ and members’ needs directly supports Humana’s mission of helping people achieve life-long health and well-being,” Fleming said.

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