PHARMACY

Medicare says it will not reverse decision to cut anemia drug reimbursements

BY Drew Buono

WASHINGTON The U.S. Medicare agency has said that it won’t reverse its decision to cut reimbursements for anemia drugs like Amgen’s Aranesp, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services had received letters from physicians and others who were trying to persuade the agency, but they said not enough proof was delivered to change their minds. The CMS is standing by its statement that the drugs are overused and linked to increased risk of stroke and heart attacks.

The drugs are given to boost oxygen-carrying hemoglobin in the blood to combat anemia and avoid blood transfusions. In July, the CMS had said it would only reimburse for patients who hemoglobin levels fell below 10 grams per deciliter of a patient’s blood.

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BMS to acquire biologics developer for $430 million

BY Drew Buono

PRINCETON, N.J. Bristol-Myers Squibb has signed an agreement with Adnexus Therapeutics, under which BMS will acquire Adnexus, a developer of a new therapeutic class of biologics called Adnectins.

Under the agreement, Adnexus will become a subsidiary of BMS and advance BMS’ biologics, with its Phase I oncology biologic, Angiocept.  BMS will acquire all of Adnexus’ issued and outstanding shares of stock for $430 million.  There also is another $75 million that could be paid to Adnexus, in three separate payments, depending on development and regulatory milestones.

“Bringing Adnexus into the Bristol-Myers Squibb family builds upon a successful and productive collaboration between the two companies in oncology and is an important step in accelerating the strategic transformation of our pharmaceutical business to a biopharma business model,” said Jim Cornelius, chief executive officer of BMS.

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Building new bridges to e-prescribing, SureScripts turns to vendors for advice

BY Jim Frederick

ALEXANDRIA, Va. SureScripts, the pharmacy-sanctioned electronic prescription platform provider, revealed today the formation of a 10-member advisory group charged with spurring the nationwide adoption of e-prescribing.

Composed of technology and electronic communications experts, the Prescriber Vendor Advisory Council will work with SureScripts on programs to boost the use of e-prescribing by U.S. physicians, the company said in a statement. “As part of its mission, the council will provide insight on key variables that are known to impact a physician’s decision to begin e-prescribing and their level of satisfaction once they start,” explained SureScripts spokesman Rob Cronin.

Members of the council are experts in the design and application of information technology used by physicians, according to the company. The group will convene this week, and will focus on such areas as technology design and programs to support the adoption by doctors of e-prescribing software. Together with SureScripts, the new advisory council will explore such topics as “how changes in electronic prescribing technology and making fuller use of pharmacy interoperability can improve the … workflow by professionals in the physician’s office and behind the pharmacy counter,” Cronin noted.

“Even the most compelling of new technologies will invariably face obstacles that slow adoption, and this has never been more true than in health care,” said Rick Ratliff, the company’s chief operating officer. “SureScripts will work with its Prescriber Vendor Advisory Council to identify and address these obstacles.”

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