PHARMACY

Pfizer could lose No. 1 global sales ranking to Sanofi next year, report finds

BY Alaric DeArment

LONDON — Pfizer soon may lose its distinction of having the highest global sales of any drug company, according to life sciences industry analysis firm EvaluatePharma.

The next contender for the title is France’s Sanofi, which EvaluatePharma said was expected to take the top spot next year and stay there through 2016.

The firm attributed the French drug maker’s rise to its mergers and acquisitions activity, particularly its purchase earlier this year of U.S. biotech manufacturer Genzyme Corp. "The takeover of Genzyne, an aggressive cross-border move, revealed just how much the culture of Sanofi has changed in the last few years," EvaluatePharma CEO Jonathan de Pass said. "Coming just as Pfizer loses Lipitor, the acquisition should be enough to secure Sanofi the top spot for the next few years, our data suggest."

Lipitor (atorvastatin calcium) is the top-selling drug in the world, with more than $7 billion in sales in the United States alone, according to IMS Health. But Indian drug maker Ranbaxy Labs is expected to launch a generic version of the drug later this month. Pfizer, long reliant on the blockbuster model of drug development, has sought to weather the effects of generic competition by increasing its focus on specialty drugs, as have other major drug makers like Merck & Co. and Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Still, Merck, which EvaluatePharma currently ranked fourth in terms of sales, is expected to move down to the fifth and sixth places next year and through 2016, while Bristol is expected to move from 13th place to 16th next year and 17th in 2014 before moving up again to 13th place in 2016.

 


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Panel: Take Care Health Systems synergizes savings across health management

BY Michael Johnsen

BOSTON — Employee wellness experts from Babcock & Wilcox, Caesars Entertainment and others spoke to the synergies that such a company as Walgreens’ Take Care Health Systems can create across their health management strategies during a panel discussion here last week at the National Conference on Health, Productivity and Human Capital hosted by the National Business Group on Health.

Representing businesses that collectively employ more than 120,000 workers, the panelists discussed a number of emerging themes in employer-sponsored health care, including:

  • Investing in proactive and preventive care for employees to improve the health of employees while mitigating the trend of rising employer healthcare costs;

  • Utilizing workplace-based health centers to effectively prevent and treat such chronic diseases as hypertension and diabetes before they pose significant and costly health risks to employees; and

  • Designing benefits to incentivize employees to use such high-quality and affordable care options as retail clinics, as well as health systems and healthcare providers with proven track records of achieving exceptional patient outcomes.

“At B&W, our wellness strategy offers comprehensive and convenient health services to our workforce while at the same time reducing our costs,” stated Daniel Helman, B&W corporate director, environmental, health and safety. “By prioritizing the health of our employees, we’ve done right by our business and, even more importantly, we’ve done right by the tens of thousands of B&W team members who depend on us for access to tools that will allow them to be and stay well.”

B&W wellness strategy incorporates benefit design, health education and worksite health centers managed by Take Care Health Systems. Investments in employee health and wellness have yielded significant return, the company stated, effectively reversing the trend of rising healthcare spend. Health management programs at Caesars Entertainment and other Take Care clients also have yielded significant financial and health outcome-based results, according to the panelists.

“From small and mid-sized companies to the nation’s largest employers, businesses are weighing rising health and pharmacy costs with a desire to best meet the needs of their employees,” commented Paul VanDeventer, Walgreens divisional VP and host of the panel discussion. “Through our network of workplace health centers, community pharmacies, retail clinics and other healthcare assets, Walgreens is working to make sure employers don’t need to choose between the health of their workforce and the health of their bottom line. Our relationships with healthcare innovators such as B&W and Caesars bring new ideas and best practices to the forefront.” 

Walgreens, through its subsidiary Take Care Health Systems, currently manages more than 350 workplace-based health centers with companies across the country.


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NCPA: Independent pharmacy can benefit health insurance exchanges

BY Michael Johnsen

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The National Community Pharmacists Association on Monday touted the benefits community pharmacies can provide for health insurance exchanges once those exchange open in 2014 in a letter addressed to the Department of Health and Human Services.

“Federal and state officials from both parties are making considerable efforts now to make certain that patients will have access to affordable, quality medical coverage when health insurance exchanges open in 2014,” stated NCPA CEO Douglas Hoey. “The services of community pharmacists, such as expert medication counseling, are critical to improving patient outcomes and reducing costs in these plans, as well as those outside of the exchanges.”

NCPA’s comments to HHS included the following recommendations:

  • HHS should adopt the Department of Defense/TRICARE standard for pharmacy access in plans offered through the state exchanges. That minimum standard sets forth an adjusted scale for pharmacy access in urban, suburban and rural communities (e.g., at least 70% of beneficiaries in rural areas on average must live within 15 miles of a participating retail pharmacy);

  • To further ensure access, plans also should consider, where appropriate, designating community pharmacies in low-income, underserved areas as “essential community providers”;

  • To maximize the cost-savings from pharmacy benefit manager disclosure requirements, HHS should issue guidance so health plans get an accurate grasp of the complex, multifaceted revenue streams of PBMs;

  • Specifically as it relates to payments to PBMs by manufacturers and other entities, NCPA suggests a definition of “indirect compensation” to reflect revenue retained by PBMs in addition to rebates; and

  • Adopt a more transparent process for evaluating proposed changes to plans in the health exchanges than the state plan amendment process currently employed in Medicaid. For example, proposed changes could be publicly disclosed in advance of HHS’ ruling on them.

To view the letter in its entirety, click here.

 


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