PHARMACY

EMD Serono releases redesigned injector pen for infertility

BY Alaric DeArment

ROCKLAND, Mass. — A redesigned version of an injector pen used to treat infertility is available for distribution in the United States, the manufacturer said Monday.

EMD Serono, a subsidiary of German drug maker Merck KGaA, said that Gonal-f RFF Redi-ject, a disposable, pre-filled pen used for the drug Gonal-f RFF (follitropin alfa), had become available. The Food and Drug Administration approved the redesigned pen in October. Merck KGaA operates in the United States under the name EMD in order to avoid confusion with U.S.-based Merck & Co.

"This device was designed with feedback from healthcare professionals, patients and significant others," EMD Serono SVP and head of U.S. fertility and endocrinology Craig Millian said. "EMD Serono has a long heritage of fertility expertise and is committed to strengthening that legacy. Adding this device to our product portfolio helps to further our mission, which is to create, innovate and advocate for people who want to have a child, with the goal of reducing barriers to treatment."

 

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PHARMACY

NACDS urges choice of pharmacy, patient access in ACA

BY Antoinette Alexander

ARLINGTON, Va. — The National Association of Chain Drug Stores underscored its commitment to improving the quality and affordability of the nation’s healthcare system and expressed concern about potential consequences of restricted pharmacy networks with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act exchange plans in a statement to the U.S. House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform Committee. 

The committee held a hearing Friday titled, “Premiums, Provider Networks and the Health Care Law.”

“Preferred networks in the pharmacy sector may interfere with patient access to quality care. The use of preferred networks limits patient access to pharmacy providers whose services improve lives and help address poor medication adherence, an issue that costs the nation approximately $290 billion annually,” NACDS said in its statement.

Instead, NACDS emphasized the importance of patient choice in choosing pharmacy providers, citing that nearly all Americans (92%) live within five miles of a community retail pharmacy.


"Open networks provide greater access and more choices, particularly in more rural areas with fewer pharmacies. Additionally, community pharmacies meet patients’ needs for convenient access through a highly competitive environment that gives consumers choices in how their medications and healthcare services are provided,” the Association said in its statement.


NACDS also cited that exchange plan limitations on the number of pharmacies that can participate in a network also limit patient access to knowledgeable professionals, which play a critical role in providing care and cost savings. In addition, NACDS expressed concerns about restrictions on drug formularies in exchange plans. 


“NACDS is concerned that patients who face restricted drug formularies and cost sharing may choose to skip their necessary medications, because they simply cannot afford the out-of-pocket costs. Overall care for these patients may prove more costly in the long run, defeating the goals of providing high quality, more affordable care,” NACDS said in its statement.

 

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PHARMACY

Patients’ willingness to embrace personalized medicine speaks to larger trend

BY Antoinette Alexander

A recent study commissioned by Intel revealed that patients are ready to embrace personalized care, all the way down to medications for their specific genetic makeup, and they want the freedom to get health care wherever and whenever it’s convenient for them.

Why is this important? Personalization — whether it is customized coupons and marketing or prescription medications — is here and will be critical in 2014. Consumers want more, and in the face of rising health care costs and a strained healthcare system, their healthcare is no exception.

As the study found, patients are not only ready to embrace personalized medicine but they are willing to share personal information, such as lab results, to advance the field of medicine and cut medical costs throughout the entire system.

The reality is that personalized medicine isn’t simply a fad. It is a revolution in patient care and medication management. Pharmacogenomics, which refers to the testing of individuals to help select the best therapy for a particular patient, is on its way to transforming both the practice of pharmacy and the way medicines are prescribed, prepared and dispensed for many chronic diseases.
 
For example, regional player Kerr Drug announced last year that it was collaborating with the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill’s Eshelman School of Pharmacy on a study to explore the feasibility of a pharmacogenetic program for the blood-thinning drug Plavix. Studies have shown that certain genetic variations between individuals can affect their responses to Plavix.

"Because pharmacists have unique expertise in medication use and are point-of-care service providers, they can play an important role in facilitating pharmacogenetic testing and more personalized health care," had stated Kerr Health EVP Rebecca Chater when announcing the news last year.

More recently, a new study conducted by researchers at CVS Caremark and Brigham and Women’s Hospital explored the impact of genetic testing on prescribing patterns for cardiovascular therapy and found that there is an opportunity to improve upon the information physicians and patients receive on the evolving body of evidence for pharmacogenomics.

Noted Troyen A. Brennan, EVP and chief medical officer of CVS Caremark, "We’re entering an age when we can begin to create tailored treatment regimens for individual patients, but a genetic test is only valuable when providers and their patients can understand and act on the results."

There’s no doubt that the industry is entering an age of personalization — on several fronts.

 

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