PHARMACY

Enbrel helps improve conditions of psoriasis patients, study finds

BY Alaric DeArment

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — A drug used to treat inflammatory diseases improved the conditions of patients with psoriasis that affected the scalp compared with placebo, according to results of a new study.

Amgen and Pfizer on Friday announced the results of the phase-4 study of Enbrel (etanercept), in patients with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis with scaling on the scalp, also known as scalp involvement. Data from the trial will be presented Friday at the 69th annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology in New Orleans.

The 121-patient trial divided patients into Group A, which received 50-mg of Enbrel twice weekly for 12 weeks followed by the same dosage once weekly for another 12 weeks, and Group B, which received a placebo for 12 weeks followed by Enbrel twice a week for another 12 weeks. Among the patients, 87% of those in Group A showed improvement in scalp involvement after the first 12 weeks, compared with 20% of those in Group B.

“At least half of people with plaque psoriasis have involvement on their scalp, which may contribute to feelings of embarrassment associated with this condition,” said Jerry Bagel, lead study author and medical director of the Psoriasis Treatment Center of Central New Jersey. “These data reinforce the efficacy and safety profile of Enbrel for adult patients with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis with scalp involvement.”

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PHARMACY

MTM could take chunk out of the $290 billion in annual healthcare costs

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., argued before the Senate Thursday around the value that increased access to medication therapy management can deliver to overall health care — that includes cutting into the $290 billion in annual costs associated with medication nonadherence and preventing as many as 89,000 premature deaths.

“With as much as one-half of all patients [in the United States] not following doctor’s orders regarding their medications, medication therapy management could help reduce some of the wasted healthcare costs in our system,” Hagan said.

Pointing to the well-known Asheville Project, Hagan noted that medical costs have decreased among patients participating in that program by between $1,600 and $3,300 per year. In addition, there are 50% fewer sick days taken by participants, which translates into increased productivity gains of some $18,000 annually.

“The bill I am reintroducing today takes MTM one step further,” Hagan said. “Specifically, [the Medication Therapy Management Empowerment Act of 2011] would expand MTM eligibility to seniors with any chronic condition that accounts for high spending in our healthcare system, such as heart failure and diabetes.” Hagan concluded, “Expansion of MTM to more seniors will no doubt improve their overall health, while at the same time reducing waste in our healthcare system.”

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ECR launches Zolpimist

BY Alaric DeArment

AMITYVILLE, N.Y. — Hi-Tech Pharmacal subsidiary ECR Pharmaceuticals has launched a drug for treating insomnia.

ECR announced Friday the launch of Zolpimist (zolpidem tartrate) oral spray. The drug comes in units that provide 60 metered sprays, administering 5-mg or 10-mg doses of the active ingredient. As a hypnotic agent, the drug is classified as a CIV controlled substance by the federal government.

“Zolpimist is a significant addition to ECR, our branded products subsidiary, and reflects our continuing commitment to build this segment of our business through the marketing of widely used, innovative products,” Novadel Pharma CEO Steven Ratoff said. Novadel developed the drug.

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