PHARMACY

Increased drug sales may yield overall economy’s comeback

BY Alaric DeArment

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT The uptick in prescription drug sales growth may or may not be yet another indicator of improvement in the U.S. economy, but it is, without a doubt, indicative of a return to growth for the prescription drug market and, by extension, an indicator of growth among retail pharmacies.

(THE NEWS: U.S. drug sales saw growth in 2009, IMS Health says. For the full story, click here)

When IMS Health reported that prescription drug sales had $300.3 billion in sales in 2009, a 5.1% increase over 2008, the figure included every distribution channel. But the bulk of those sales, $164 billion, were through retail channels, including retail pharmacy chains, independents and supermarket pharmacies.

The biggest increase between 2008 and 2009 was in chain stores, which saw a 3.6% increase in prescription drug sales, from $101.8 billion to $105.5 billion. Sales in supermarkets increased by 1.4%, from $20.9 billion to $21.2 billion. Meanwhile, independents had a 2.1% decrease, from $38.1 billion to $37.3 billion. A similar trend appears when figures for dispensed prescriptions are broken down by distribution channel, with a large increase in chain stores, a smaller increase in supermarkets and a decrease in independents.

Sales of specialty drugs went up as well. With $8 billion in sales, compared with $7.5 billion in 2008, monoclonal antibodies for treating cancer rank sixth in IMS’ list of the top 15 therapeutic classes, compared with their seventh-place ranking last year. Biotech drugs for treating arthritis and inflammatory diseases rank eighth and fourteenth, respectively, though erythropoietins, for treating anemia, had a $900 million decrease in sales.

IMS doesn’t have a specific category for the specialty channel, but it does have them for mail service and home health care, two channels used extensively by specialty pharmacies. Though drug sales through the home healthcare channel had a slight decrease, from $2.6 billion in 2008 to $2.5 billion in 2009, mail-service sales increased from $46 billion to $51.5 billion, placing the channel in second place, below retail pharmacy chains, even though it ranked last when measured by U.S. dispensed prescriptions, which also decreased slightly, from 238.4 million in 2008 to 237.5 million in 2009.

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PHARMACY

MinuteClinic launches Monitoring Made Easy

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. MinuteClinic officially announced the introduction of new health-condition monitoring services for patients with diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and asthma.

The new monitoring services, called Monitoring Made Easy, are available at MinuteClinic locations in CVS/pharmacy stores in 20 states and the District of Columbia. The services, performed by MinuteClinic nurse practitioners and physician assistants, are designed to support patients with ongoing health conditions in between visits to their primary care provider or to provide assistance to patients who may not receive regular care.

“By providing health-condition monitoring at MinuteClinic, our goal is to be a convenient and affordable resource where patients can not only receive an exam and regular lab tests, but also spend meaningful time with a practitioner to obtain advice and have questions about their condition and medication answered,” stated Andrew Sussman, M.D., president of MinuteClinic and SVP/associate chief medical officer of CVS Caremark.

How it works: MinuteClinic will send all health care monitoring results to a primary care provider with patient permission. Visit summaries are sent via electronic medical record or fax, typically within 24 hours. In addition, MinuteClinic practitioners will help patients locate a primary care provider in the community if they do not have one. A collaborating physician (medical director) is on call during MinuteClinic operating hours.

 

The monitoring services are available seven days a week, including weekday evening hours; no appointment is necessary.

 

 

When providing the services, practitioners review the patient’s medical history and perform an exam and tests based on nationally established clinical practice guidelines for standards of care, which may include an a1c test and foot exam for diabetes, breathing and oxygen level testing for asthma, a lipid profile for high cholesterol and a blood pressure check and microalbumin test for high blood pressure.

 

 

Most health insurance plans cover MinuteClinic health-condition monitoring services. Self-pay visits start at $62 and patients are informed of additional lab charges at the time of their visit.

 

 

A series of blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and weight evaluation screening services also are provided to patients who have not been previously diagnosed with a condition but want to determine if they are at risk.

 

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Teva’s patent for Seasonique upheld

BY Alaric DeArment

JERUSALEM The U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada has granted Teva Pharmaceutical Industries’ motion for summary judgment concerning the validity of its patent on a birth-control pill, the drug maker announced Thursday.

Duramed, now Teva Women’s Health, brought a patent infringement case against Watson Pharmaceuticals in March 2008 when the latter sought to market its generic version of Seasonique (levonogestrel and ethinyl estradiol) ahead of the expiration of the patent covering the drug, U.S. Patent No. 7,320,969, which expires in January 2024.

“We are pleased with the court’s decision finding our patent to be valid and enforceable,” Teva North America president and CEO William Marth said in a statement. “Seasonique is an important part of our women’s health portfolio and offers women a safe and effective extended-regimen birth-control option.”

Separate patent litigation is pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey over generic versions of Seasonique by Mylan, Famy Care and Lupin.

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