PHARMACY

Mylan’s generic Entocort EC to enter market

BY Alaric DeArment

PITTSBURGH — A generic drug made by Mylan for Crohn’s disease does not infringe on the patent for the branded drug, a federal court ruled Thursday.

Mylan said the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware ruled that Mylan’s regulatory approval application for budesonide capsules in the 3-mg strength does not violate the patent for the branded drug, AstraZeneca’s Entocort EC.

The Food and Drug Administration approved Mylan’s product last month, and the company said it plans to launch immediately. Budesonide capsules in the 3-mg strength had sales of about $350 million for the 12 months ended in March, according to IMS Health.

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BMS donates grants to help African-American women fight Type 2 diabetes

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK — The charitable arm of Bristol-Myers Squibb has awarded five grants totaling $1.5 million to organizations that encourage African-American women with Type 2 diabetes to better manage their disease.

The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation said it has awarded funds to the University of Virginia, East Carolina University, Whittier Street Health Center of Boston, Black Women’s Health Imperative of Washington, D.C., and the United Neighborhood Health Services in Nashville, Tenn., as part of the drug maker’s Together on Diabetes initiative, which is designed to improve health outcomes among Type 2 diabetics living in the United States. Each organization has received $300,000, two-year grants for their efforts to empower African-American women, while also leveraging their standing as leaders in their families and communities to influence the health of those around them, BMS Foundation said.

“African-American women represent one of the country’s highest risk groups for developing and suffering the impact of Type 2 diabetes,” Bristol-Myers Squibb CEO Lamberto Andreotti said. “With these grants specifically focused on African-American women, Together on Diabetes is supporting innovative efforts to make self management programs work for African American women in the context of their lives.”

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WellPoint’s new program helps patients choose ER alternatives for nonemergency issues

BY Antoinette Alexander

INDIANAPOLIS — Locating retail health clinics and urgent care centers just got easier for patients seeking nonemergency care when their regular doctors are not available, thanks to an emergency room program and education campaign that incorporates Google Maps launched by WellPoint’s affiliated health plans.

"When your five-year-old is crying with a fever at 7 p.m. on a Friday because she has a sore throat or an ear ache, what do you do?" stated Manish Oza, a WellPoint medical director who helped shape the program and also practices as an ER physician. "It’s important people know that they have options to treat less serious ailments other than an ER, such as retail health clinics and urgent care centers that provide quality care and cost them significantly less."

Enter the new ER program, which includes:

  • Ads on Google, Yahoo! and Bing that drive visitors to an educational site explaining when it’s appropriate to use ER alternatives, such as retail health clinics and urgent care centers;

  • A Google map, available to everyone, that provides the location of ER alternatives in the state so that consumers can easily find them;

  • Automated calls to educate members whose recent ER visits were potentially avoidable, and emails to members interested in learning more information; and

  • Educational pieces mailed explaining the type of conditions that could be treated at ER alternatives and potential differences in cost.

According to a RAND Corp. study published in the September 2010 edition of Health Affairs, about 17% of all visits to hospital emergency departments nationally potentially could be treated at retail medical clinics or urgent care centers for an estimated savings of $4.4 billion. ER visits also are getting longer, with the national average clocking in at four hours and five minutes, according to the 2008 Emergency Department Pulse Report by Press Ganey Associates.

Research conducted by HealthCore, WellPoint’s outcomes research subsidiary, showed that a pilot program with a commercially insured population in Virginia, which included member education via emails and online advertising, in addition to financial incentives and a Google map finder for retail health clinics and urgent care centers, assisted in members’ decisions to use ER alternatives for nonemergency care.

The study showed that ER use for conditions that could be treated at retail health or urgent care clinics decreased in 2010 from 2009 for all populations studied. Specifically, HealthCore reported a 14% decrease in ER visits for those who participated in the program compared with those who did not. The decrease in visits covered minor sicknesses or conditions that could be treated elsewhere.

In addition to the education campaign, members in the study had financial incentives to help them save out-of-pocket expenses. For example, emergency room charges may average $580 to treat strep throat, depending on location, compared with $90 at urgent care centers and $40 at retail health clinics; ER co-pays range from $100 to $200, compared with $10 to $40 for retail health clinics and urgent care centers.

After the program concluded, the group exposed to the program was more than twice as likely to seek treatment for nonemergency conditions at retail health clinics than those who did not participate.

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