PHARMACY

Medco teams up with Ohio insurer to speed conversion to e-prescribing

BY Jim Frederick

FRANKLIN LAKES, N.J. A major pharmacy benefit management organization and a large health insurer are teaming up in Ohio to launch a new campaign to encourage the use of electronic prescribing.

Behind the collaboration: Medco Health Solutions and Medical Mutual of Ohio. The two firms are jointly sponsoring a program to help physicians use personal computers and wireless devices to write prescriptions and transmit them to the pharmacy electronically for filling.

The goal, according to Medco and Medical Mutual, is “delivering improved patient safety, reducing prescription drug costs and boosting physician practice efficiency.” The program runs through September 2010.

One big factor driving the effort, said John Driscoll, Medco’s new markets president, is both companies’ realization that “e-prescribing puts life-saving information about adverse drug events in front of the doctor at the point of care.” Driscoll called paperless prescribing “a critical component to transforming healthcare from our present system to one that is efficient, sustainable and patient-centered.”

The program includes financial incentives for participating physicians who adopt e-prescribing into their practice.

According to the 2008 State Progress Report on Electronic Prescribing, Ohio ranked 13th in the nation in its rate of electronic prescription transmissions vs. paper prescribing.

Almost 5% of prescriptions within the state were transmitted electronically in 2008, up from 2.5% in 2007.

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Sandoz to acquire Oriel Therapeutics

BY Alaric DeArment

HOLZKIRCHEN, Germany Sandoz got its hands on a collection of generic drug candidates Monday as it agreed to acquire privately owned U.S. drug maker Oriel Therapeutics, the generics arm of Swiss drug maker Novartis said. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Oriel focuses on drugs for respiratory conditions, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and the deal gives Sandoz access to development projects such as Solis, a dry powder inhaler that uses Oriel’s FreePath drug-delivery technology.

“Oriel is a strong strategic fit with Sandoz, and the acquisition is expected to support our strategy of increasing the number of differentiated, higher-value products in our development pipeline,” Sandoz division head Jeff George said. “One of our strategic objectives is to offer fully substitutable generic versions of key branded medicines, including respiratory medicines.”

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Emdeon affirms e-prescribing for controlled substances is a ‘practical necessity’

BY Alaric DeArment

NASHVILLE, Tenn. Electronic prescribing network Emdeon is supporting the approval of security standards for e-prescribing of controlled substances, Emdeon said last week.

The company, which calls itself the only e-prescribing network with market-based experience in controlled substances, said it was committed to helping the Drug Enforcement Administration and healthcare industry to implement the interim final rule for e-prescribing the drugs. Controlled substances include prescription drugs for such conditions as chronic pain and psychiatric disorders that are prone to abuse and diversion.

“Our market experience during the Massachusetts Department of Public Health research project indicates that electronic prescribing for controlled substances is safe and a practical necessity,” Emdeon CEO George Lazenby said. “The potential impact is tremendous.”

The Agency for Health Research and Quality, a government agency, funded the MDPH research project with the aim of demonstrating the technological feasibility and potential benefits to patient safety in e-prescribing of controlled substances.

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