PHARMACY

E-prescribing costs drop

BY Jim Frederick

ALEXANDRIA, Va. and , ST. PAUL, Minn. —It’s getting cheaper to generate, receive and process electronic prescriptions. E-prescribing network provider Surescripts made its new, lower pricing policy official Feb. 16.

Surescripts president and CEO Harry Totonis first revealed plans to lower the company’s pricing policy in an interview published in the Jan. 12, 2010, issue of Drug Store News. At that time, Totonis predicted Surescripts would cut its prices to chain and independent pharmacies by an average of 10% to 20%. The new policy went into effect for many subscribers in January.

“Our decision to lower prices fulfills a public promise made when legacy SureScripts and RxHub were founded,” Totonis said. “Three things have enabled us to keep this promise: Surescripts’ ongoing commitment to its own operational efficiency, the economies of scale resulting from the [RxHub-Surescripts] merger and Surescripts’ success in working with healthcare organizations across the country.”

Totonis indicated that more price reductions might follow. “As we add more participants to the network, this will continue to drive down the cost of e-prescribing, as our efficiency, scale and economics improve,” he said.

Stanton McComb, president of McKesson Pharmacy Systems, acknowledged “the economic pressures that our customers are under,” and vowed support for Surescripts’ move. “MPS felt that it was important to support and extend Surescripts’ price reductions as quickly as possible to our software customers to support this advancement in pharmacy care and also support our customers economically.”

In another mid-February development, Surescripts announced the formation of the HIE Advisory Committee. The committee will help Surescripts “engage, listen and work out the operational details of a prescription history service for [health information exchanges] and other appropriate community entities,” the company noted.

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PHARMACY

Late-stage clinical trial of Avastin fails to meet expectations, Genentech says

BY Alaric DeArment

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. A late-stage clinical trial of a Genentech drug for men with late-stage prostate cancer has failed, the biotech company announced Friday.

Genentech, part of Swiss drug maker Roche, announced that a phase 3 trial of Avastin (bevacizumab) combined with prednisone and the chemotherapy drug docetaxel did not extend the amount of time that patients survived, compared with chemotherapy and prednisone alone.

The drug already has approval from the Food and Drug Administration for treating tumors and cancers of the lungs, colon, rectum, breasts, kidneys and brain.

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PHARMACY

Abbott’s submits supplemental approval application for Lupron Depot to FDA

BY Alaric DeArment

ABBOTT PARK, Ill. Abbott is hoping that the Food and Drug Administration will approve one of its drugs as a treatment for advanced prostate cancer.

The Chicago-based drug maker announced Thursday that the FDA accepted its supplemental approval application for Lupron Depot (leuprolide acetate) in the 45-mg strength. The drug, an injectable, works by suppressing production of testosterone for six months. It is currently available in 7.5-mg, 22.5-mg and 30-mg formulations that work for one, three and four months.

“For many patients with advanced prostate cancer, Lupron Depot is an important treatment option because it can help manage the symptoms of their disease,” Abbott VP global pharmaceutical development Eugene Sun said in a statement. “Abbott is seeking approval for a new six-month formulation to provide greater convenience and dosing flexibility to physicians and patients who could benefit form this medication.”

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