PHARMACY

8th annual Armada Specialty Pharmacy Summit sees 30% boost in attendance

BY Rob Eder

LAS VEGAS — The 8th annual Armada Specialty Pharmacy Summit officially kicked off here at the Wynn casino resort on Wednesday morning, with early attendance figures showing a 30% increase over 2011, when more than 1,500 executives attended.

The Summit brings together “senior executives and key decision-makers from nearly every leading national, regional and local specialty pharmacy provider,” Armada Health Care CEO Lawrence Irene told Drug Store News. Important, the event also helps bring together what was just a few years ago, still a relatively fragmented industry, also attracting “leading pharmaceutical and biotech companies, managed care organizations, wholesalers and distributors, technology providers and various other affiliated healthcare companies.”

Highlights from this year’s Summit included a state of the specialty pharmacy industry address from Diplomat Pharmacy president and CEO Phil Hagerman, and a special point/counterpoint discussion between former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs under President Barack Obama and Karl Rove, former Deputy Chief of Staff and advisor to former President George W. Bush. Co-moderated by Lawrence Irene and Armada chief strategy officer Thomas Cohn, Gibbs and Rove squared off on topics ranging from the upcoming Presidential election, the state of the economy, the Supreme Court review of the Affordable Care Act and the one-year anniversary of the death of the Osama bin Laden.

Borrowing a Star Trek theme for his comments, Hagerman examined an industry he characterized as growing and evolving at “warp speed,” pointing to several key forces that will shape the next generation of specialty pharmacy, including the emergence of personalized medicine, expanded clinical capabilities and outcomes in line with the rollout of health care reform, education and training and new technology solutions to complement core dispensing capabilities.  Hagerman talked about the importance of providers to “harvest the patient interface,” and not just to mine patient data “but to use it and distill it down to actionable programs that drive outcomes,” he said, both patient outcomes and financial outcomes.

“Phil Hagerman was right on point this morning about the role technology is playing to enhance the services that specialty pharmacies is able to provide,” noted Armada Health Care president Robert Irene. “Armada is proud to be on the forefront of helping our members continue to grow by pioneering solutions for the specialty pharmacy industry.”

Other highlights from this year’s program included special guest speaker Dr. Michio Kaku, world-renowned physicist, best-selling author and star of the Discovery Channel series “How the Universe Works,” talked about the next great wave in technological advancement, which he characterized by three key areas — nanotechnology, biotechnology and artificial intelligence — and how these fields would transform healthcare over the next 50 years. In 2050, Kaku described a world in which doctors will engineer man-made organs and diagnostics in our bathroom mirrors and even in our toilets will provide round-the-clock health monitoring, enabling healthcare providers to diagnose and treat disease years before they actually occur.

The Armada Specialty Pharmacy Summit, which ran through Thursday, also featured a sold-out exhibit hall, with more than 75 exhibitors and sponsoring companies in all. The event also included five live hours of continuing education. IMS Health vp industry relations Doug Long presented a snapshot of the current state of the pharmacy market to help set the table for early arriving attendees, anchoring a bonus day of programming on Tuesday.

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Sandoz acquires Fougera for $1.5 billion

BY Alaric DeArment

BASEL, Switzerland — Novartis’ generics division has acquired Fougera Pharmaceuticals, the company said Wednesday.

Sandoz announced the acquisition of Melville, N.Y.-based Fougera for $1.525 billion in cash. Fougera specializes in generic dermatology drugs, and Sandoz said the acquisition would make it the world’s largest company in the space.

"The addition of Fougera’s leading portfolio further strengthens Sandoz’s differentiated products strategy and improves our ability to help patients and customers around the world by providing easier access to high-quality, affordable dermatological medicines," Sandoz global head Jeff George said. "Fougera brings us valuable technical capabilities in the area of topical dermatological products, particularly in the development and manufacturing of semi-solid forms such as creams and ointments."

Fougera had sales of $429 million in 2011 and employs about 700 people at its two sites in New York, according to IMS Health.


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MinuteClinic to support Million Hearts with free blood-pressure checks in May

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Caremark announced on Wednesday that it is supporting Million Hearts during National High Blood Pressure Education Month in May through a number of patient-focused initiatives.

Launched by the Department of Health and Human Services and led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Million Hearts is a national initiative to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes in the United States over the next five years.

In support of Million Hearts, MinuteClinic will be offering free blood-pressure checks on Fridays in May: May 4, 11, 18 and 25.  No appointment is necessary and a MinuteClinic practitioner will discuss the results and make recommendations for keeping blood pressure under control, including staying on prescribed medication and taking it as directed.

"One in three adults in the U.S. has high blood pressure, increasing their risk for heart disease and stroke," said Andrew Sussman, president of MinuteClinic and SVP/associate chief medical officer at CVS Caremark. "We’re pleased to support Million Hearts by screening, educating and monitoring people who, for a variety of reasons, may have difficulty accessing preventive care, which is vital when it comes to heart health."

In addition, CVS/pharmacy will host a live Facebook chat with a CVS pharmacist and MinuteClinic nurse practitioner on May 16. The live online event will be free and open to the public and can be accessed by logging on to the CVS/pharmacy Facebook page. The discussion will focus on practical ways patients can remember to take their medication as directed and other issues facing those who are managing such chronic conditions as hypertension.

In an effort to attack the high costs of cardiovascular illnesses and to improve the treatment outcomes of cardiac patients, CVS Caremark has launched Pharmacy Advisor for chronic cardiovascular care, a pharmacy-based approach to managing one of the most prevalent and expensive chronic illnesses.  The program, which combines pharmacy benefit manager insights and solutions with pharmacist interventions, is designed to ensure that patients follow their medication regimens to achieve optimal health outcomes.  Pharmacy Advisor for chronic cardiovascular care initially will focus on improving medication adherence for four conditions: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure.

"Our support of Million Hearts underscores our belief that we can improve health outcomes through innovative ways of delivering care, including public-private partnerships," added Helena Foulkes, EVP and chief healthcare strategy and marketing officer for CVS Caremark. "At CVS Caremark, we are reinventing pharmacy for better health."


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