PHARMACY

Hospira reports Q1

BY Alaric DeArment

LAKE FOREST, Ill. — Hospira had net sales of $1 billion during first quarter 2011, the generic drug maker said Tuesday.

Sales for the quarter, which ended March 31, declined by 0.5%, compared with first quarter 2010, while profits were $149.9 million, a 5.8% increase over last year.

“Hospira started out the year with a stronger-than-expected first quarter, aided by strong U.S. sales of docetaxel and gemcitabine, two major oncolytic pharmaceuticals,” executive chairman and former CEO Christopher Begley said, referring to generic versions of two chemotherapy drugs. “During the quarter, we gained momentum on several of our existing and newly launched specialty pharmaceuticals and made good progress in decreasing our level of backorders to better serve our customers. We remain focused on driving quality enhancements throughout the organization and on improving shareholder value through strong execution and sustainable growth.”

Begley also welcomed new CEO F. Michael Ball, who joined the company on March 28.

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Report: Specialty pharmaceutical distributors helped industry save billions

BY Alaric DeArment

ARLINGTON, Va. — Distributors of specialty drugs save the healthcare industry an estimated $3.5 billion per year by using extensive measures to ensure safe delivery, according to a new report by the Center for Healthcare Supply Chain Research, the research foundation of the Healthcare Distribution Management Association.

The report, titled “Specialty Pharmaceuticals and the Role of the Specialty Distributor,” indicated that the savings — which total about $8 billion when traditional distributors that handle specialty drugs are included — derive from distributors’ skills in preserving and delivering delicate medicines in high-tech, cold-chain and just-in-time delivery systems.

Unlike traditional pharmaceuticals, specialty drugs — which include biologics that are used to treat such complex and chronic conditions as cancers, orphan diseases and inflammatory disorders — often require special care and must be kept away from excessive heat, humidity and light, and in many cases can’t be shaken.

“This research spotlights the vast and indispensable services that specialty pharmaceutical distributors deliver in the fastest-growing sector of the pharmaceutical industry,” Center for Healthcare Supply Chain Research EVP and COO Karen Ribler said. “They provide lifesaving medicines to many of society’s most vulnerable patients, and they do it with exceptional skill and quality that lowers the cost of health care.”

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Most U.S. voters believe an expanded role for nurse practitioners will boost quality of health care

BY Antoinette Alexander

NEW YORK — Many U.S. voters are in favor of expanding the use of nurse practitioners for routine medical care, and most believe that the quality of health care would improve if routine care was handled by nurse practitioners and doctors were able to focus more on challenging healthcare issues, according to the findings of a recent survey.

According to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of 1,000 adults, 67% of likely U.S. voters favored training and licensing nurse practitioners to expand the level of routine care they provide.

In addition, 77% of respondents said they would be at least somewhat comfortable visiting a trained and licensed nurse practitioner for routine medical care, with 45% saying they would be very comfortable.

The survey also found that more than half (52%) of respondents believed that the quality of health care would improve if routine medical care was handled by nurse practitioners and doctors were able to focus more on challenging healthcare issues. Nearly half (43%) of voters thought the cost of health care would decrease if nurse practitioners were trained and licensed to provide routine medical care.

The survey also revealed that those who earn more than $75,000 were slightly less confident than those who earn less that the quality of health care could improve with the use of more nurse practitioners, thus freeing up doctors for more challenging cases.

Democrats and voters not affiliated with either party were more confident than Republicans that quality would improve. Democrats also believed more strongly than Republicans and unaffiliateds that the greater use of nurse practitioners would decrease the cost of health care.

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