PHARMACY

NACDS, NCPA renew merger opposition with new court filing seeking immediate relief

BY Michael Johnsen

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the National Community Pharmacists Association on Monday afternoon announced their intent to file an additional motion requesting that the judge direct Express Scripts and Medco to keep separate their assets pending review of the lawsuit and/or schedule an expedited review of the merits of a case the two associations filed in district court last week.

“We continue to believe that the compelling arguments and evidence brought to the [Federal Trade Commission] by NACDS, NCPA, consumer groups and others warrant blocking this merger," both NACDS and NCPA released in a joint statement. "That the agency is allowing the merger to proceed, and without any conditions, leaves patients and pharmacies vulnerable to significant harm from a combined ESI-Medco. Furthermore, we are disappointed that the agency based some of its views of the PBM-pharmacy marketplace on old, inaccurate data, despite NACDS and NCPA providing evidence to the contrary."

NACDS and NCPA, along with nine community pharmacy complainants, last week filed a suit challenging the then-proposed Express Scripts/Medco merger in anticipation of an imminent approval. Both Express Scripts and Medco were served summonses regarding that suit earlier Monday morning, according to court documents.

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PHARMACY

Teva launches generic hypertension drugs

BY Alaric DeArment

JERUSALEM — Teva Pharmaceutical Industries has launched generic versions of two blood pressure drugs made by Sanofi, Teva said Monday.

Teva announced the launch of irbesartan and irbesartan/hydrochlorothiazide tablets, respectively generic versions of Avapro and Avalide. Avapro has annual sales of $464 million, and Avalide has annual sales of $124 million, according to IMS Health. Both drugs are used to treat high blood pressure, also known as hypertension.

Teva was the first company to file for and win approval for generic versions of the drug, entitling it to 180 days of market exclusivity in which to compete directly with Sanofi’s products.


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PHARMACY

Walgreens’ Medco book of business not jeopardized by merger, retailer says

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. — In the wake of an approved Express Scripts-Medco merger, Walgreens reiterated its consensus that Walgreens’ participation in Medco’s pharmacy network would continue without disruption.

"We have a good relationship with Medco and an ongoing contract in place that we intend to honor," Walgreens’ spokesman Jim Cohn shared with DSN in an email. "We are pleased that Express Scripts said today that it, too, intends to honor Medco’s contract with us."

In early afternoon trading, shares of Walgreens were up 3.3% to $34.60, but that may be because of speculation that Walgreens would soon settle its contract dispute with Express Scripts. "UBS expects the deal as soon as April or May and even raised its price target for Walgreen to $39," Forbes reported on Saturday.

According to a Walgreens second-quarter conference call held last week, Express Scripts represented 88 million prescriptions for Walgreens in 2011, compared with 125 million prescriptions associated with Medco members. Walgreens’ Medco book is shrinking, however, to 108 million prescriptions at the top of 2012 and a projected 74 million prescriptions at the top of 2013, due to expected health plan migration out of the Medco pharmacy benefit manager offering.

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