PHARMACY

GAO: Branded drug prices on the rise

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON Prices of 416 branded drugs dramatically rose between 2000 and 2008, according to a recent study by the Government Accountability Office.

Among the drugs, which represent 0.5% of all branded drugs, the number of what the study called “extraordinary price increases” more than doubled each year during the period, ranging between 100% and 499%. One drug, an unnamed cancer treatment, experienced two such increases, going from $390 for a full course of treatment to $3,000. Most of the drugs were used to treat central nervous system disorders, infections and cardiovascular disease.

The report blamed the increases on a lack of therapeutically equivalent drugs, both generics and other branded drugs used to treat the same condition, though experts told the GAO that unusual events such as disruptions in production due to shortages of raw materials could contribute to the increases as well.

“The transfer of the rights to a drug and corporate consolidations among drug companies may result in fewer drug options and contribute to extraordinary price increases, according to experts,” the report read. “For example, the rights to four of the case-study drugs were obtained by a new drug company, and two of these drugs had an extraordinary price increase shortly after the rights to the drugs were purchased.”

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New report projects sales of Parkinson’s disease drug will reach $500 million

BY Alaric DeArment

WALTHAM, Mass. A drug made by Boehringer Ingelheim for treating Parkinson’s disease could have sales of up to half a billion dollars, according to a new analysis.

According to a report released Tuesday by market research firm Decision Resources, BI’s extended-release formulation of pramipexole will have peak-year sales of between $250 million and $500 million in major pharmaceutical markets. The drug was launched in Europe in 2009 and is expected to enter the market in the United States this year.

In the beginning, according to the report, launches of generic formulations of the immediate-release version of pramipexole and competition from GlaxoSmithKline’s and SkyePharma’s Requip XL (ropinirole CR) and generic versions of immediate-release Requip will put a damper on sales of pramipexole ER. However, physician familiarity with the drug and preference among physicians and patients for once-daily dosing will cause a “significant” increase in sales.

“Given physician comfort in prescribing pramipexole for Parkinson’s disease and the convenience of once-daily dosing that it would offer, we expect that pramipexole ER will take much of pramipexole IR’s patient share,” Decision Resources analyst Sami Fam said. “In the short term, we expect pramipexole ER will lose some patient share to ropinirole CR given that ropinirole CR was the first of the two agents to launch. But over the long term, physicians’ slight preference for pramipexole over ropinirole should help to boost pramipexole ER’s uptake.”

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Report: Weis Markets acquires local Medicine Shoppe pharmacy

BY Michael Johnsen

SUNBURY, Pa. Weis recently acquired a Medicine Shoppe pharmacy in the Binghamton, N.Y., market, local newscaster News Channel 34 (owned by Newport Television) reported early Tuesday morning.

Weis Markets currently has 120 in-store pharmacies at other locations and is considering more at its Broome County locations, the report noted.

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