PHARMACY

Lucky No. 7: Annual Armada Specialty Pharmacy Summit attendance grows 50%

BY Rob Eder

LAS VEGAS — The seventh annual Armada Specialty Pharmacy Summit, convened at The Wynn resort and casino this week, attracted nearly 1,500 attendees — a rise of almost 50% over 2010 — and about 80 exhibiting companies.

The event, which brings together senior executives from leading pharmaceutical and biotech companies, managed care organizations, wholesalers and various other healthcare stakeholders, has grown from a small meeting for Armada member pharmacies to the largest national conference for the specialty pharmacy industry, noted Armada Health Care CEO Larry Irene.

Tuesday’s agenda featured two live continuing education programs — one focused on risk evaluation and mitigation strategies and another on medication errors — but the conference officially kicked off Wednesday morning with welcoming remarks from Irene. Teeing up the conversation — which included a standing room-only keynote address from former President George W. Bush — Accredo Health Group VP Bill Martin and Pfizer Specialty Care and Oncology president and general manager Geno Germano delivered state of the market overviews of the specialty pharmacy market and the pharma/biotech industry, respectively.

Martin identified eight mega-trends he believes will shape the future of specialty pharmacy, including:

  • The specialty pharmacy spend will continue to grow, attracting more attention from payers, who will look to more aggressively manage costs through a number of levers, including tiered co-pays, step therapy and other measures;

  • Small molecule drugs will go generic in the next five years — as much as $100 billion worth in the next five years;

  • The specialty pharmacy pipeline is substantial, with 600 new drugs in development, about 40% of which represent new oncology drugs and only about 30% of which are infusion-based therapies;

  • The move from shotgun to targeted medicine, with as much as 70% of the development pipeline with identified biomarkers, and pharmacogenomics playing an increasing role in drug discovery and prescribing;

  • Legislative and regulatory activity will continue to impact the market, as 32 million-plus new lives receive coverage under heath reform in the coming years, Medicaid comes under new pressure, REMS continues to mire down the approval process and track-and-trace dialogue continues;

  • The pathway for biosimilar approvals will begin to emerge, with direction from FDA expected some time this year, as well as a clarification on exclusivity periods;

  • Co-pay cards will gain more scrutiny from payers and the government; and

  • Adherence will be the big win for specialty pharmacy providers, which Martin said are uniquely positioned to deliver, given the high-touch patient-care model. However, the issue of fair market value will continue be debated, with specialty pharmacy providers pressured to deliver fair and consistent pricing, and manufacturers challenged to demonstrate value for their products through actionable patient-outcome data.

Germano focused his remarks on some of the challenges that continue to face pharmaceutical and biotech manufacturers at the macro level. The industry continues to face massive scrutiny for high therapy costs, yet pharmaceutical costs continue to represent just 10% of total healthcare spending. With only about 2-out-of-every-10 drugs ever recouping the research and discovery costs necessary to launch, Pharma companies face massive pressure in how they deliver new innovation, he said. Further, new hurdles like REMS have vastly extended the approval process for specialty and biotech drugs, with the average review process lasting some 47.5 months for a specialty/biotech drug, versus an average approval window of 14.5 months for a drug that doesn’t require a REMS program.

Lastly, Armada manufacturer relations VP Anthony Davino provided a year-in-review look at some of the newer programs the company has developed to serve its members. In addition to its role as the nation’s largest purchasing organization for specialty pharmacy providers, Armada also offers important channel management programs and operates the largest network of specialty pharmacy providers through the Armada Specialty Pharmacy Network. New services and programs include its ReachRx prior authorization services, which is powered by Emdeon technology. Also new in 2011 is ReachRx OTM, an online therapy management tool that helps specialty pharmacy providers optimize drug utilization and clinical outcomes by tracking key therapy intervention points.

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PHARMACY

Perrigo to settle litigation related to generic Cutivate

BY Alaric DeArment

ALLEGAN, Mich. — Drug maker Perrigo has reached a licensing agreement with Nycomed US that will allow it to launch a generic treatment for dermatitis in 2012, the company said.

Perrigo said it agreed to settle all Hatch-Waxman litigation relating to its generic version of Cutivate (fluticasone) lotion with Nycomed, allowing it to launch under a licensing agreement in September 2012.

Cutivate is used to treat dermatitis in patients ages 1 year and older and had sales of about $50 million during the 12-month period ended in February, according to Wolters Kluwer.

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Surgeon general, NCL introduce Script Your Future campaign

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — The National Consumers League and the U.S. surgeon general are launching a new campaign to educate patients about the risks of not properly taking their medications, the organization said.

Surgeon general Regina Benjamin and the NCL have launched the Script Your Future campaign, a multiyear campaign that will include free text message reminders, sample questions, medication lists and charts to keep track of medicines and fact sheets on such common chronic conditions as diabetes, asthma and high blood pressure. The campaign also includes a website, at Scriptyourfuture.org.

“There are many different reasons why people don’t take their medicine as directed, from concerns about side effects to the out-of-pocket costs of prescriptions,” NCL executive director Sally Greenberg said. “But the consequences for those patients are the same. Nonadherence puts patients, especially those with chronic conditions, at risk for serious complications.” About three-fourths of patients in the United States don’t adhere to their medication therapies, costing the healthcare system $290 billion per year.

“Our national challenge is to prevent poor health outcomes and to become a healthy and fit nation,” Benjamin said. “One way is for the healthcare community and patients to come together to address the serious issue of medication nonadherence.”

The new campaign also was commended by the National Community Pharmacists Association, which noted that patient adherence can be improved through the help of pharmacists.

"It [was] important to support the National Consumers League’s Script Your Future campaign … to engage the private sector in identifying solutions to improve medication adherence," NCPA EVP and CEO Douglas Hoey said. “We need to make sure the government recognizes the positive contributions independent community pharmacists can provide as clinically trained medication experts when implementing coordinated care models. We need to see a greater embrace of these types of policies across the public and private sectors, and will work tirelessly to make that happen.”

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