PHARMACY

NCPA expresses concerns over restricted-network plans

BY Alaric DeArment

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Many so-called restricted-network Medicare Part D prescription drug plans don’t give adequate pharmacy access to rural residents and are deceptively marketed to patients, the National Community Pharmacists Association said Monday.

The plans include those offered by a number of national retail chains and health insurers.

The NCPA said the plans were being marketed to patients and featured on Medicare’s Plan Finder without making clear that the lowest advertised drug prices were available only at a relatively few, selected pharmacies. Second, the group said, patients in rural areas may not have full access to them.

"From day one, these overly restrictive drug plans have raised questions about ensuring adequate access to pharmacy care, which is why NCPA has opposed them," NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey said. "We urge Medicare officials to consider these marketing and patient access concerns and take action in the interest of seniors."

The group recently sent a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, asking it to change the Plan Finder tool to clarify that lower-cost prescription drug cost sharing is only available at the preferred pharmacy and require restricted-network plans to state in all communications that patients must go to the preferred pharmacy in order to obtain the lower drug costs.

"We encourage every Medicare beneficiary to talk to a community pharmacist about choosing the right Medicare drug plan," Hoey said. "Pharmacists can be a tremendous resource to Medicare patients by educating them about the enrollment process and helping them ‘plug in their drugs’ using Medicare’s Plan Finder tool at Medicare.gov."

 


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PHARMACY

Gilead Sciences acquires Pharmasset for $11 billion

BY Alaric DeArment

FOSTER CITY, Calif. — Drug maker Gilead Sciences will acquire Pharmasset for $11 billion, or $137 per share, Gilead said Monday.

Pharmasset, based in Princeton, N.J., is a drug maker that currently has three treatments for hepatitis C undergoing clinical trials, including PSI-7977, which is in late-stage development.

"The acquisition of Pharmasset represents an important and exciting opportunity to accelerate Gilead’s effort to change the treatment paradigm for HCV-infected patients by developing all-oral regimens for the treatment of the disease, regardless of viral genotype," Gilead chairman and CEO John Martin said. "Pharmasset presented compelling phase-2 data earlier this month further characterizing the strong efficacy and safety profile of PSI-7977."

 


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PHARMACY

Impax Labs looks to market generic cancer pain drug

BY Alaric DeArment

HAYWARD, Calif. — Drug maker Impax Labs is looking to challenge the patent protection on a drug used to treat pain related to cancer, the company said Monday.

Impax said it had filed a regulatory approval application with the Food and Drug Administration for a generic version of Cephalon’s Fentora (fentanyl) buccal tablets in the 100 mcg, 200 mcg, 400 mcg, 600 mcg and 800 mcg strengths. The drug is used to treat breakthrough cancer pain, defined as pain related to cancer that can’t be controlled by other drugs.

Impax’s application contained a paragraph IV certification, a legal assertion that one or more patents covering a drug are invalid, unenforceable or won’t be infringed. In response, Cephalon and CIMA Labs filed a patent infringement suit against Impax in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, under the terms of the Hatch-Waxman Act of 1984, the law that created an abbreviated approval pathway for generic pharmaceuticals.

Fentora had sales of about $159 million during the 12-month period ended in September, according to Wolters Kluwer Health.

 


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