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Pfizer, BMS drug more effective than warfarin in AF patients

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — A drug made by Pfizer and Bristol-Myers Squibb undergoing late-stage clinical trials was more effective than the generic drug warfarin in patients with atrial fibrillation, according to study results released Sunday.

The phase-3 "ARISTOTLE" trial of Eliquis (apixaban) showed that the drug reduced the risk of stroke and systemic embolism by 21%, major bleeding by 31% and death by 11% in AF patients. The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, was conducted at 1,034 centers in 39 countries and enrolled 18,201 patients.

"The risk for stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation is a major public health concern in an aging population," Duke University Medical Center professor of medicine and lead study investigator Christopher Granger said. "We are therefore encouraged by the outcome of the ARISTOTLE trial, which showed that apixaban, as compared with warfarin, significantly reduced the risk of stroke or systemic embolism, major bleeding and mortality."

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NACDS’ Anderson urges embracement of pharmacy’s ability to cut costs, improve lives

BY Alaric DeArment

BOSTON — National Association of Chain Drug Stores president and CEO Steve Anderson emphasized the value of pharmacy for payers and patients, and hailed the industry as one whose “future vision is nothing short of transformative,” during his remarks at Monday morning’s business session at the NACDS Pharmacy and Technology Conference.

Placing community pharmacy in the context of crises facing the country and the world, Anderson emphasized its collaboration with payers to help reduce healthcare costs, while cautioning that the evaluation of healthcare economics must be conducted with a comprehensive view of patient-focused pharmacy services.

"This is an industry whose future vision is nothing short of transformative — with the ability to fashion a more cost-effective, more efficient and more successful healthcare delivery system," Anderson said. "But still, this is also an industry for whose viability we need to fight at every turn."

Among programs he highlighted was ChecKmeds NC, a program in North Carolina in which Medicare patients have access to face-to-face medication therapy management services that have delivered a return on investment of $13.55 for each $1 invested.

"While we understand the situation and recognize the need for immediate savings, everyone needs to understand something about pharmacy: We are not going to back down on the central argument of our industry," Anderson said. "By keeping patients healthier and preventing the need for more costly forms of care, pharmacy lowers costs across the board. And to arbitrarily cut prescription drug costs is to see other costs — even greater costs — pop up in other places."

Anderson also touted NACDS’ progress in transforming into a "more powerful and focused association" acting on members’ behalf. "NACDS is the nexus of where business, politics and public policy come together for the betterment of industry, but, more importantly, for the betterment of the American people. NACDS has filled a vacuum and added value through better collaboration with our allies, more spirited communications, grassroots advocacy, impacting elections through the NACDS Political Action Committee and creating a focus on winning in federal and state government affairs by shaping legislation and regulations and battling in the courts when needed,” Anderson said.
 

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NACDS chairman Loeffler calls for even greater grassroots engagement

BY Alaric DeArment

BOSTON — In addressing attendees of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Pharmacy and Technology Conference, NACDS chairman and H-E-B chief administrative officer Bob Loeffler called for even greater grassroots engagement within the industry and encouraged attendees to participate in NACDS RxImpact, the organization’s grassroots campaign to reach political leaders, by attending the Day on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

"NACDS has never been stronger, and NACDS needs to confront any threat to the viability of pharmacy patient care services," Loeffler said. "That said, I need to emphasize an undeniable, unavoidable and perhaps under-appreciated fact: We need your engagement."

Loeffler said dedication was needed in demonstrating to policymakers the need for policy that "reduces the nation’s overall healthcare expenses and maintains patient care at high levels while keeping the pharmacy industry viable."

"It’s not that grassroots engagement is a missing ingredient within pharmacy," Loeffler added. "It just needs a lot more muscle. We need your engagement."

He also noted that this year, through RxImpact, pharmacy advocates have written nearly three times as many letters to their legislators as they did last year — from 5,000 to 14,000 — with 26 pharmacy tours planned for 2012. Meanwhile, the number of participants in the Day on Capitol Hill has grown from 150 in 2009 to 350 this year. The next RxImpact Day on Capitol Hill is scheduled for March 14 and 15, 2012.

In addition to urging attendees to attend next year’s Day on Capitol Hill, Loeffler also encouraged them to log on to the RxImpact website and urge lawmakers to pass the Pharmacy Competition and Consumer Choice Act. "This bill includes provisions about transparency, the frequency of updating MAC pricing, networks, audits, use of data and many of the topics that threaten many in this room and the patients we serve," Loeffler said.

"It is a top priority of NACDS to ensure that the health of patients and the wellness of the nation’s healthcare delivery system can benefit from pharmacy services that are accessible by every patient and give every patient choices. And we will take that stand with vigor and with resolve,” Loeffler said.

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