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The Jean Coutu Group officially begins construction on new HQ in Varennes

BY Antoinette Alexander

LONGUEUIL, Quebec — The Jean Coutu Group has kicked off the construction of its future headquarters and distribution center in Varennes, Quebec. The official groundbreaking ceremony was held on Friday.

From left to right: Ron Keays, GKC Architects; Marc Dumas, Jean Coutu Group; Dario Montoni, Montoni Group; Frank Di Paolo, Montoni Group, François J. Coutu, Jean Coutu Group; Jean Coutu, Jean Coutu Group; Martin Damphousse, City of Varennes; Normand Messier, Jean Coutu Group; André Belzile, Jean Coutu Group; Hélène Bisson, Jean Coutu Group; and Guillaume Marchand, City of Varennes.

The new facility will total 883,000 sq. ft, which is 50% larger than the space currently occupied in Longueuil’s industrial park. The project represents a total investment of Canadian $190 million. The contractor Montoni was granted the construction contract.

“It is with a great deal of enthusiasm that we begin the construction of our new headquarters. The facilities in Varennes will be at the cutting edge of technology guarantying high standards of productivity while ensuring an enjoyable and safe work environment for our employees,” said François J. Coutu, president and CEO of the Jean Coutu Group.

The construction begins with the distribution center section, while the construction of the headquarters is scheduled to start in August.

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FDA approves new hemophilia treatment

BY David Salazar

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — A recently approved drug might make infusions for hemophiliacs fewer and further between.

The Food and Drug Administration approved Biogen Idec’s Eloctate, which clinical trials have shown works to treat bleeding episodes and to increase the time between prophylactic blood infusions for those with hemophilia A, a genetic illness that affects approximately 16,000 Americans.

With Eloctate, prophylactic infusions for hemophiliacs are only necessary every three to five days, a change from most, which are required every other day for those with severe hemophilia A.

Biogen Idec is hoping to make the drug available as soon as July, and the United States is the first country to approve Eloctate, though it’s currently under consideration for approval in Australia, Japan and Canada.

Eloctate is the second treatment for hemophilia approved by the FDA this year, following the March approval of Alprolix, which treats hemophilia B and reduces infusion frequency for those patients to once a week.

 

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Report: Access to specialty medicines should be determined by clinical value, not cost

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — As healthcare decision-makers grapple with how to ensure access to specialty medications, the University of Michigan Center for Value-Based Insurance Design and the National Pharmaceutical Council on Monday released a new report, "Supporting Consumer Access to Specialty Medications Through Value-Based Insurance Design," which explores how value-based insurance design could be utilized to address specialty medication access concerns.   

V-BID is built on the principle of lowering or removing financial barriers to essential, evidence-based, high-value clinical services to align patients’ out-of-pocket costs, such as co-payments, with the value of services. Driven by the concept of clinical nuance, V-BID recognizes that medical services differ in the benefit they provide, and the clinical benefit derived from a specific service depends on the characteristics of the patient receiving it. According to report author and V-BID Center director, Mark Fendrick, V-BID seeks to shift the focus from "how much" to "how well" we spend our healthcare dollars. 

Acquisition cost, not clinical value, typically is the driving force behind consumer cost-sharing provisions for specialty medications in nearly all public and private health plans. "It is imperative for decision-makers that cost-containment efforts do not produce preventable reductions in quality of care," Fendrick said.

Payers and purchasers can use a variety of techniques to apply V-BID to specialty medications, including:

  • Imposing no more than modest cost-sharing on high-value medications;
  • Reducing cost-sharing based on patient- or disease-specific qualifications;
  • Selectively reducing cost-sharing for patients who fail to respond as desired to another medication based on current access restrictions used by insurance companies; or
  • Using cost-sharing to encourage patient selection of high-performing providers.

The authors point out that it will be critical to anticipate and address some of the foreseeable challenges associated with clinically nuanced benefit designs to make V-BID work effectively for specialty medications.  

As Americans are responsible for an increasing portion of the cost of medical care, cost-related non-adherence of potentially life-saving interventions is a real and growing problem, Fendrick noted. While a comprehensive V-BID program for specialty pharmaceuticals may not be immediately feasible, significant headway can be made by beginning with certain high-priority medications or clinical conditions, Fendrick added.

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