PHARMACY

PCPAN reacts to Express Scripts Senate testimony

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — Preserve Community Pharmacy Access Now — a coalition of consumers, businesses and community-based pharmacists banded together for the purpose of opposing the planned merger between Express Scripts and Medco Health Solutions — on Thursday responded to testimony provided by George Paz, Express Scripts CEO, before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights hearing held Tuesday.

According to PCPAN, Paz testified before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights and responded to a question about the merger with, "I can’t stop certain pharmacies from going out of business," less than 24 hours after releasing a study claiming that the merger of Express Scripts and Medco would save consumers billions of dollars in healthcare costs.

"Express Scripts CEO George Paz testified that, ‘patients-not-profits must come first,’ but the remainder of his testimony clearly demonstrated that this proposed merger would result in the elimination of jobs and limit access to pharmacies for some of the most vulnerable citizens in underserved communities throughout the country," stated former Rep. Eva Clayton, chairman of the Preserve Community Pharmacy Access Now coalition. "Particularly now, with an unemployment rate of nearly 9% and no relief in sight, America can ill afford the loss of more jobs and access to pharmacy care that would result from the merger of these two behemoth middlemen."

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Reports: St. Louis-area supermarket chains look to draw Walgreens customers as WAG-ESI dispute continues

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — Supermarket chain Schnucks is hoping to benefit from the spat between Walgreens and pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts, according to published reports.

The St. Louis Business Journal reported that Schnucks was inviting Walgreens customers to have their prescriptions filled at Schnucks stores; the chain operates 100 stores in the Midwest, including 95 with in-store pharmacies and 65 in the St. Louis area. Walgreens and ESI are embroiled in a dispute over how much the PBM will pay Walgreens for filling prescriptions after the expiration of their current contract on Dec. 31. The companies may terminate their arrangement if an agreement can’t be made. Another local chain, Dierbergs, was seeking to draw Walgreens customers to its 21 supermarket pharmacies in the St. Louis area as well, the newspaper reported.

Meanwhile, the Belleville, Ill., News-Democrat, a St. Louis-area newspaper, quoted a Schnucks spokeswoman as saying that the chain was looking to reach out to Walgreens customers as it did not appear that a solution to the Walgreens-ESI dispute would happen. It also quoted an ESI spokesman as saying Walgreens should reduce its rates — which he called higher than those of other pharmacies — due to increasing drug costs and a Walgreens spokesman as saying that Walgreens would consider a "fair and competitive offer" from ESI, but did not expect an agreement in time.

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Insulin combination treats low blood sugar in diabetes patients, study finds

BY Alaric DeArment

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — A combination of two insulins made by Novo Nordisk reduced abnormally low blood sugar in diabetes patients, according to study results presented at a medical conference.

Presenting at the International Diabetes Federation’s 21st World Diabetes Congress in Dubai, Novo Nordisk said the combination of insulin degludec and insulin aspart reduced the overall occurrence of low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycemia, during the day and at night for patients with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. The company markets insulin aspart under the NovoLog and NovoRapid brands, while insulin degludec is still in clinical development.

The combination also lowered the amount of sugar in patients’ blood plasma after a period of not eating, a measure known as fasting plasma glucose.

"The unique way in which insulin degludec/insulin aspart works, with the basal insulin providing an ultra-long and steady action profile, plus a bolus boost of insulin aspart, provides a simple way to introduce mealtime dosing at any meal," Novo Nordisk corporate VP and global chief medical officer Alan Moses said. "These benefits, along with the reduced risk of hypoglycemia and improved [fasting plasma glucose]  shown in these studies, are very promising for people living with diabetes."

A second study also showed rates of hypoglycemia that were 37% lower in Type 1 diabetes patients who took the combination and rapid-acting mealtime insulin doses compared with those who took the mealtime doses with insulin detemir, which the company sells under the Levemir brand.


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