PHARMACY

Express Scripts establishes specialty benefits organization

BY Alaric DeArment

ST. LOUIS — Pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts has created what it calls the industry’s most comprehensive specialty benefits organization, the company announced Thursday.

 

Express Scripts Specialty Benefit Services is designed to deliver plan sponsors services that help save money on specialty drugs while enhancing patient care, according to the company. The program brings together the company’s pharmacy benefit management, specialty pharmacy and distribution, and medical benefit management services, the third of which is delivered through subsidiary Care Continuum. Specialty drugs are used to treat complex, chronic conditions, such as cancer, pulmonary arterial hypertension and autoimmune disorders.

 

 

“Our creation of the first specialty benefits organization is very timely, as the national healthcare-reform discussion centers around three critical areas: access, quality and cost,” Express Scripts chief medical officer Steven Miller said. “Express Scripts is responding to rising market demand for comprehensive specialty benefit services spanning both pharmacy and medical benefits. As a result, we are using evidence-based methods to enhance patient safety and clinical care, while eliminating wasteful healthcare expenses.”

 

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Merck’s cardiovascular drug improves cholesterol levels in patients during late-stage trial

BY Alaric DeArment

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. Patients taking an investigational treatment for cardiovascular disease showed big improvements in cholesterol levels, according to late-stage clinical trial results released Wednesday.

 

Merck announced results of its 18-month phase-3 trial of anacetrapib in 1,623 patients with coronary heart disease. The drug showed no difference in safety compared with placebo, and 16 patients experienced cardiovascular problems –– cardiovascular death, heart attack, unstable angina or stroke –– compared with 21 taking placebo. Data were presented Wednesday at the scientific sessions of the American Heart Association and published online in the New England Journal of Medicine.

 

 

Most importantly, after 24 weeks of treatment among patients who had previously taken a statin, the drug decreased “bad” LDL cholesterol by 40% while increasing “good” HDL cholesterol by 138%.

 

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Local independent pharmacy models program after NCPA’s Dispose My Meds

BY Allison Cerra

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — A group representing the nation’s independent pharmacies praised a local drug store’s participation in a drug take-back program.

The National Community Pharmacists Association lauded the Great Peconic Take Back event, held Wednesday, which served the eastern Suffolk area of New York. Led by Bob Grisnik of Southrifty Drug, located in Southampton, N.Y., the free service allowed anyone wishing to safely dispose of his or her expired or otherwise unwanted prescription and over-the-counter medications to bring the medications to any of the 15 participating pharmacies of the newly formed Peconic Independent Pharmacy Association.

The program is based on the NCPA’s Dispose My Meds program, which addresses drug diversion and environmental contamination.

“It’s exciting to see community pharmacies working together to meet the growing patient demand for a safe and environmentally friendly way to discard unused medications. Programs like this should be voluntary, but I hope many pharmacies seize the opportunity to create their own programs to meet the needs of their patients,” said Robert Greenwood, NCPA president.

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