ReportersNotebook — Chain Pharmacy, 2/28/11
SUPPLIER NEWS — Drug maker Valeant Pharmaceuticals International has acquired U.S. and Canadian rights to certain formulations of a GlaxoSmithKline drug used to treat cold sores. Valeant acquired the rights to nonophthalmic topical formulations of Zovirax (acyclovir) from GSK for $300 million through its Canadian subsidiary, Biovail Labs.
The Food and Drug Administration declined to approve a drug made by Eisai for treating gastroesophageal reflux disease, Eisai said. The drug maker announced its receipt of a complete response letter from the agency for its application for rabeprazole sodium extended-release capsules, a proton-pump inhibitor for GERD. The FDA delivers a complete response letter when it has finished reviewing a regulatory approval application, but issues remain that preclude final approval of the drug.
The Food and Drug Administration has approved a generic weight-loss drug made by Elite Pharmaceuticals. Elite announced the approval of phentermine hydrochloride in the 37.5-mg strength, a generic version of Teva’s Adipex-P. Branded and generic versions of the drug had sales of around $40 million in 2010, according to Elite.
The Food and Drug Administration approved Sun Pharmaceutical Industries’ generic version of Johnson & Johnson’s Alzheimer’s drug, Razadyne (galantamine hydrobromide) tablets. Razadyne has annual sales of about $50 million, according to Sun.
NewsBytes on WAG’s Rx purchasing team, WMT’s Duncan Mac Naughton, CVS Q4 results and more
DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens this month rounded out the pharmacy purchasing team led by Jeff Berkowitz, who joined the company in the fall as SVP pharmaceutical development and market access.
The team includes Frank DeStefano, promoted to group VP pharmacy purchasing and supply chain and responsible for all branded and generic pharmaceutical purchases and pharmacy inventory optimization across the company’s retail, mail, specialty, home infusion, on-site and work-site pharmacy units; Mike Bleser, promoted to divisional VP pharmacy supply chain and analytics and responsible for strategic management of pharmacy inventory across Walgreens; Mike Allen, promoted to divisional VP generic pharmacy purchasing and strategy and responsible for all generic drug purchasing; Jeff Foreman, who joins Walgreens from Cardinal Health as divisional VP brand pharmaceutical wholesaler and vaccine purchasing; and Gerry Gleeson, who joins Walgreens from Merck as divisional VP of pharmaceutical development responsible for optimizing Walgreens’ relationships with pharmaceutical manufacturers.
BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Walmart named Duncan Mac Naughton chief merchandising officer for the company’s U.S. division, less than three months after he was named EVP merchandising.
In other company news, Walmart named Cindy Davis EVP global consumer insights, a new business unit for the company. Davis previously served as EVP membership and marketing for Sam’s Club.
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Sanofi-Aventis has agreed to acquire U.S. biotech giant Genzyme for $20.1 billion. Sanofi plans to make Genzyme its “global center for excellence” in rare diseases.
WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Caremark reported that fourth-quarter net revenues dipped 4.1% to $24.8 billion, with net income of $1.03 billion compared with $1.05 billion the prior year. Retail pharmacy revenues rose 3.1% to $14.9 billion during the three-month period ended Dec. 31, 2010. Same-store sales increased 1.7%, with front-end comps up 1% and pharmacy comps up 2%, driven by a 220 basis point improvement from Maintenance Choice.
THE CLINICS: Helping ‘Take Care’ of primary care shortage
With pharmaceutical and healthcare expenditures on the rise, a primary care shortage at hand and an expected upswing in patients diagnosed with chronic diseases, there’s no denying that the marketplace is in the midst of an evolution. Despite the challenges, Walgreens’ health-and-wellness division has positioned itself for such changes and, according to headquarter executives, has a winning strategy in place — broadening and deepening its payer relationships.
“One area that payer communities all have in common is the need to measure, deliver and improve outcomes, which encompass providing accessible, high-quality care at reduced costs,” Hal Rosenbluth, SVP and president of Walgreens Health and Wellness, told analysts during a presentation in late 2010. “If done properly, this will provide for a happier, more productive and healthier work force and member community.”
Walgreens defines payer communities as employers, health plans, health systems, PBMs, government and individual and small businesses. With about 360 retail-based Take Care Clinics stretched across 19 states, and some 368 employer-based health, pharmacy and fitness centers nationwide, Walgreens Health and Wellness offers an expanded scope of services that it says provide a solution to part — if not all — of the needs of different payer groups.
“Whether by helping hospitals reduce the cost of readmission, assisting employers in reducing pharmacy spend or providing greater access to specialty drugs and healthcare services, Walgreens has the solutions payers need for their constituents, whether at work, in their neighborhood or at home,” Rosenbluth said.
One example of this: Harrah’s Showboat casino in Atlantic City, N.J. The casino’s on-site Health and Wellness Center, operated by Walgreens’ Take Care Health Systems employer services group, opened in 2005. During its first year of operation, the facility was seeing about 26 patients a day, Emily Gaines, VP compensation, benefits and HRSS for Harrah’s Entertainment, told Drug Store News. By 2010, the center was seeing an average of 65 patients a day and was up to about 17,000 visits a year out of the facility.
Health systems also are facing their share of challenges, as many will be judged and, in some cases, reimbursed based on patient satisfaction, outcomes and the pooling of resources. Rosenbluth noted that, again, this is where Walgreens can step in. “Not a week goes by where we are not approached or approaching hospital systems with solutions, including our hospital on-site pharmacy, in-store Take Care Clinics, infusion centers, home care services and medication fulfillment choices to aid in their own micro-healthcare ecosystems,” Rosenbluth said. “As you can see by now, this is thematic in our approach to the needs of the healthcare marketplace. By helping others we, in turn, are helping ourselves.”
To better address the unique needs of each payer segment —whether it be employers, health systems, health plans, PBMs, government or individual and small businesses — Walgreens Health and Wellness recently revamped its sales and account management organization to better focus on bringing all of Walgreens’ healthcare assets to market. The revamped sales team is comprised of sales and client service executives with experience across all of the payer segments.
“Our approach is to bring all of Walgreens’ asset solutions to each segment, whether online, offline or in person,” Rosenbluth said. “Each payer has a unique set of capabilities and, combined with our solution set, they can each now go to market with a differentiated offering and, in turn, become an additional sales channel for Walgreens’ products and services. … Now, rather than primarily being a provider of pharmacy benefit services, we have developed a much broader set of strategic and consultative relationships in the marketplace.”