PHARMACY

MannKind: Patients have better view of insulin therapy when using Afrezza

BY Alaric DeArment

SAN DIEGO — Patients with Type 1 diabetes using an insulin product made by MannKind expressed a better opinion about insulin therapy than those taking the standard treatment, according to a study presented at the American Diabetes Association’s 71st Scientific Sessions.

MannKind said that patients taking the investigational inhaled insulin Afrezza (insulin human [rDNA origin]) with basal insulin came to view insulin therapy more positively during the 16-week study than those taking Eli Lilly’s injected Humalog (insulin lispro [rDNA origin]) with basal insulin.

“The challenge of diabetes and its treatment can have a profound psychosocial impact on the patient, which must be addressed as part of managing the condition,” lead study investigator and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine professor Richard Rubin said. “Current mealtime insulin therapy regimens require patients to titrate their insulin and use injections, both of which can negatively affect their perceptions of therapy and their long-term compliance.”

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PHARMACY

Incorporating nuts into diet may help diabetics with blood-sugar control, cholesterol

BY Allison Cerra

FRESNO, Calif. — Consuming nuts in place of carbohydrates may help improve long-term blood-sugar control and lower cholesterol levels among Type 2 diabetics, according to a new study.

Researchers from University of Toronto and St. Michael’s Hospital studied 117 Type 2 diabetes patients over the course of three months who were randomized to 1-of-3 treatments. Groups were given either about 2 oz. of mixed nuts, a healthy muffin control or half portions of both at about 450 calories per 2,000-calorie diet. The diabetics that consumed the mixed nuts had a better handle on their blood-sugar control, based on HbA1C readings, and also saw a reduction in "bad" cholesterol levels.

"There are two important factors in caring for diabetes: blood-sugar control and heart health," said Cyril WC Kendall, study co-investigator. "This study found that eating 2 oz. of nuts, such as pistachios, daily as a replacement for carbohydrates improved both blood sugar (glycemic control) and ‘bad’ cholesterol (LDL-cholesterol) in people with Type 2 diabetes. This is a very exciting and promising finding about the treatment of the disease."

The study was published in the June 29 edition of Diabetes Care.

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PHARMACY

Accredo helps hepatitis C patients save up to $13K

BY Alaric DeArment

FRANKLIN LAKES, N.J. — Pharmacy benefit manager Medco Health Solutions’ specialty pharmacy division, Accredo Health Group, has managed to drive down costs for treating hepatitis C by an average of $13,000 per patient, the company said Tuesday.

Medco said Accredo had been successful in using genotype information to identify patients who only may need 24 weeks of therapy, as opposed to 48 weeks, thus reducing costs.

In addition, Accredo said its high-touch care model helps educate patients about their treatment and the need to adhere to it, as patients must be at least 80% adherent to therapy for their HCV treatment to be effective. As a result of its efforts, patients receiving therapy from Accredo’s nurses and specialty pharmacists are nearly 10% more adherent than those receiving therapy from other providers, the company said.

Two new drugs for hepatitis C — Merck’s Victrelis (boceprevir) and Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incivek (telaprevir) — also hold promise. “These new drugs will likely be game changers for HCV patients, but patients are going to need help adhering to treatment,” Medco Rare and Specialty Therapeutics Resource Center VP and national practice leader Richard Faris said. “Medco’s enhanced clinical oversight and expertise in gene-based medicine enable us to help patients get the right treatment and stay on therapy.”

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