PHARMACY

Kerr Drug to implement Sharps Compliance’s TakeAway Environmental Return System

BY Allison Cerra

RALEIGH, N.C. — Kerr Drug said that it will offer customers a solution to properly dispose of their unused or expired medications.

The pharmacy chain said that Sharps Compliance’s TakeAway Environmental Return System envelopes will be available in all stores May 23. The envelopes sell for $3.99.

“Kerr Drug is making it easy for our customers to dispose of unwanted medicines, which prevents the possible misuse of these medications, as well as the contamination of North Carolina’s lakes and rivers, many of which are community water supplies,” Kerr Drug president and CEO Tony Civello said. “Kerr Drug is a community pharmacy, and that means finding the best way to serve the people in your community. We believe the TakeAway Environmental Return System provides a great service.”

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Medco: Cancer drugs to see huge rise by 2013

BY Alaric DeArment

ORLANDO, Fla. — Cancer drugs are expected to see sharp increases in spending and use by 2013, according to the latest drug trend report by pharmacy benefit manager Medco Health Solutions.

The overall drug trend for 2010 was 3.7%, lowered by higher rates of generic drug dispensing; more than 71% of drugs dispensed were generics. Specialty drugs, mostly branded biologics, accounted for 70.1% of the overall drug trend, with especially strong growth in cancer drugs, whose drug trend reached 21.2%.

Expensive new drugs for treating cancer could drive spending by as much as 15% over the next three years, likely making them the second- or third-largest trend-driving drug category by 2015, according to the report, behind only drugs for diabetes and central nervous system disorders. Much of the demand for new cancer drugs comes from better detection, leading to a rise in reported cases of the disease.

“New cancer drugs reaching the market are expected to double during the next several years,” Medco chief medical officer Glen Stettin said. “Early diagnosis, evidence-based treatment and enhanced coordinated care have essentially turned some forms of the condition into chronic illnesses that can be managed longer-term. Continued innovation, including companion diagnostic or pharmacogenomic testing, can help ensure the right person is getting the right drug at the proper dose and reduce waste.”

Newly introduced drugs for cancer increased inflation in the category to 11.5% last year, and according to the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, more than 90% of cancer drugs approved since 2004 cost more than $20,000 for a 12-week course of therapy. Higher prescribing of drugs, such as Celgene’s multiple myeloma treatment Revlimid (lenalidomide) and Novartis’ leukemia and gastrointestinal tumor drug Gleevec (imatinib mesylate), drove the increases. Medco noted that many of the newer drugs are oral medications that patients can administer by themselves, thus changing the dynamic of cancer care delivery toward the home instead of physicians’ offices and infusion centers.

“It’s an exciting time in the area of cancer treatment, but as these new, targeted treatments come to market, it is vital to ensure that each patient and caregiver understands the importance of adherence and the detailed dosing instructions associated with them,” Medco Oncology Therapeutic Resource Center national practice leader Milayna Subar said.

Despite the higher trend in cancer drugs, drugs for diabetes have continued to drive drug trend for the fourth year in a row as the largest therapeutic category driving overall spending growth, with a drug trend of 7.6%. The large number of diabetes patients — which most experts expect to significantly grow over the next several years — resulted in the category contributing nearly 17% of the overall growth in drug spending in 2010.

“Demand for these diabetes drugs as a category remains unabated as America struggles with what has become a worldwide epidemic,” Stettin said. “The number of people in the U.S. being treated for diabetes is expected to increase from nearly 25 million today to 44 million by 2035.”

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IMS Health: Global spending on medicines to reach nearly $1.1 trillion by 2015

BY Alaric DeArment

PARSIPPANY, N.J. — Global spending on medicines will reach nearly $1.1 trillion by 2015, according to a new study by market research firm IMS Health.

In particular, the study — titled “The Global Use of Medicines: Outlook Through 2015” — found that the share of money spent on branded drugs will decline due to patent expiries and growing use of generics, with spending on branded drugs in developed countries set to remain at the same level in 2015 as in 2010. Meanwhile, the market share for branded drugs, which declined from 70% in 2005 to 64% in 2010, will fall to 53% by 2015. In emerging markets, 80 cents of every dollar spent on drugs that year will be for generics.

While patent expiries mean lower revenues for big drug companies, they also mean more savings for payers in developed countries, which are expected to save $98 billion through 2015. The United States is expected to have the largest expansion in spending on generics, while Japan will still have the lowest, despite policy incentives designed to encourage generic utilization.

“The future level of spending on medicines has striking implications for healthcare systems and policy-makers across the developed and emerging economies,” IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics executive director Murray Aitken said. “Past patterns of spending offer few clues about the level of expected growth through 2015.”

Specialty drugs likely will see growth as well. IMS pointed to recent and upcoming launches of drugs for multiple sclerosis and cancer, while spending on biosimilars will exceed $2 billion per year by 2015, compared with $311 million in 2010. New biosimilars are expected to enter the U.S. market by 2014, and globally, biosimilars will account for about 1% of total spending on biologics.

In addition to significant growth in cancer drugs, diabetes drugs are expected to see spending growth as well, thanks to newer oral drugs and increasing prevalence of the disease; meanwhile, spending growth on lipid regulators and drugs for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is expected to slow.

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