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FDA approves MS drug from Novartis

BY Alaric DeArment

EAST HANOVER, N.J. The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new drug for treating multiple sclerosis.

Novartis announced Monday the approval of Extavia (interferon beta-1b), the first of what the company calls a planned portfolio of MS drugs. Extavia is approved for treating relapsing forms of MS to reduce the frequency of clinical exacerbations of the disease.

“Interferon is a mainstay of treatment in MS,” Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center professor Doug Jeffery said in a statement. “With the approval of Extavia, patients have another option with a well-established safety and efficacy profile to help manage the disease.”

The drug is the same medicinal product as Bayer HealthCare’s Betaseron. Interferon beta-1b has been a standard-of-care for MS for 16 years, Novartis said.

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Diplomat, Commcare named top companies by Inc. magazine

BY DSN STAFF

NEW YORK Specialty pharmacies Commcare Pharmacy and Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy have earned the respective 235th and 374th places on Inc. magazine’s list of the 500 fastest-growing private companies in the United States.

 

This goes to show how rapidly the specialty pharmacy industry has grown thanks to its focus on complex illnesses and medication regimens that traditional pharmacies are mostly unable to support, growing 8.8% last year, compared to 4.4% for traditional pharmacies, while specialty drugs had nearly $60 billion in U.S. sales.

 

 

But specialty pharmacy can also give independent pharmacies without a large front end a good way to make money, with its emphasis on profitable biotech drugs and closer interaction between the patient and pharmacist, allowing the mom-and-pop street corner pharmacy to carve a niche for itself while the chain pharmacy down the road continues to serve traditional drug store functions.

 

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CVS Caremark study finds need for improvements in healthcare access, costs

BY DSN STAFF

NEW YORK CVS Caremark’s 2009 “Health IQ” study is yet another indicator coming from the private sector that health reform cannot wait.

 

The findings come on the heels of another sign: PhRMA’s resurrection of the Harry and Louise characters, the middle class couple who helped to defeat the Clinton healthcare reform proposal, in a new multi-million dollar ad campaign developed in collaboration with Families USA, the national organization for healthcare consumers. This time, however, Harry and Louise are in support of healthcare reform.

 

 

The reality is that the more the private sector leads the way on this, the more likely that reform will work for them, as well as the rest of America.

 

 

For instance, CVS’ MinuteClinic could play a major role in closing the gap on patient access. In addition, CVS’ Proactive Pharmacy Care program, as well as its new ReadyFill program, could help improve medication adherence ‹ another major problem in the U.S. healthcare system. Proactive Pharmacy Care is focused on helping consumers understand the benefits of taking their medication consistently and helps them understand ways to reduce costs. It is estimated that non-adherence costs the United States $177 billion a year.

 

 

The bottom line is that there is a sense that if it and other key stakeholders step up now and communicate how they can be a part of the solution — and the value in that — they just might be in the end. It’s the difference between driving health reform and getting run over by health reform. Either way, you get a sense that the key stakeholders know the train is rolling and they would rather drive the engine then lay on the tracks.

 

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