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FDA approves new hemophilia B treatment

BY Alaric DeArment

SILVER SPRING, Md. — The Food and Drug Administration has approved what’s being called the first therapy of its kind to prevent bleeding episodes.

The FDA announced Thursday the approval of Westlake Village, Calif.-based Baxter Healthcare Corp.’s Rixubis (coagulation factor IX [recombinant]) for patients with hemophilia B age 16 years and older. The treatment is used for controlling and preventing bleeding episodes, management of patients after surgery and routine use to prevent or reduce the frequency of bleeding episodes.

Hemophilia B affects about 3,300 people in the United States, mostly males, and can cause potentially serious bleeding, mainly in the joints, thus destroying the joints.

"As the first recombinant coagulation factor IX indicated specifically for routine prophylaxis to prevent bleeding, Rixubis becomes a new weapon in our arsenal to protect hemophilia B patients," FDA Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research director Karen Midthun said.

 

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Study finds lower costs, better outcomes among kidney transplant patients at specialty vs. retail pharmacy

BY Alaric DeArment

IRVINE, Calif. — Specialty pharmacy plays a key role in lowering healthcare costs and improving outcomes, according to a new study.

The study, conducted by health services company OptumRx and published in the Journal of Managed Care Pharmacy, included two groups of 519 kidney transplant patients each. One group comprised people enrolled in an employer-sponsored benefit plan who filled at least 80% of their transplant-related medications at a specialty pharmacy, while the other group comprised patients who filled the same percentage of prescriptions at retail pharmacies.

According to the study, the patients using a specialty pharmacy program showed consistently lower costs and higher therapy adherence than those using retail pharmacies, including transplant-related medical costs that were 30% lower and overall healthcare costs that were 13% lower.

"We’ve seen similar outcomes in improving medication adherence and clinical results and lowering medical service costs through our specialty programs in oral oncology, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis," OptumRx VP specialty benefit and outcomes strategy and lead study author Suzanne Tschida said. "We have found that, by delivering a simpler, more personalized and convenient member experience, we empower members to manage their medications and take ownership of their conditions."

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Reports: Target, Walmart, Novo Nordisk cut ties with Paula Deen

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — Target has ended its relationship with celebrity chef Paula Deen following reports that she used racial slurs, according to published reports.

The Associated Press reported that the Minneapolis-based mass merchandise chain would not replenish its inventory of Paula Deen-branded cookware in its stores or online once the merchandise sold out. Walmart has made a similar announcement.

Also, according to reports, Danish drug maker Novo Nordisk said it would suspect its marketing deal with the Southern cook. In a controversial move last year, Novo Nordisk announced that it had hired Deen to promote the Type 2 diabetes drug Victoza (liraglutide) at the same time Deen publicly revealed she had the disease. Many, including celebrity chef and frequent Deen critic Anthony Bourdain, lashed out, saying it was hypocritical for Deen to have revealed her disease following a promotional deal for a diabetes drug after years of promoting fat- and sugar-laden cooking. These have included dishes such as deep-fried cheesecake, a hamburger with egg and bacon and donuts for buns and lasagna placed between a two slices of buttered French bread to form a sandwich.

Deen’s empire has been crashing down amid revelations that she had previously used a racial slur to refer to African-Americans and tolerated offensive jokes about blacks, Jews, gays and others in the workplace. The revelations were made in a deposition Deen gave in a lawsuit filed by a former employee of her Savannah, Ga., restaurant.

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