ReportersNotebook — Chain Pharmacy, 5/21/12
SUPPLIER NEWS — Watson has announced its intention to acquire Actavis, the company said. Following news reports that the U.S.-based generic drug maker would acquire Switzerland-based Actavis, Watson announced that it would buy the latter for $5.6 billion. News media had reported that the deal would be worth $5.9 billion, while there had been estimates in March that Watson would pay up to $7.3 billion.
“The acquisition of Actavis will create the third-largest global generics company, substantially completing Watson’s expansion as a leading global generics company,” Watson president and CEO Paul Bisaro said.
Watson noted that Actavis operates in more than 40 countries and markets more than 1,000 products around the world, with more than 300 projects in its pipeline and 2011 sales of about $2.5 billion.
The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new drug for treating erectile dysfunction, the agency said. The FDA announced the approval of Vivus’ Stendra (avanafil). “This approval expands the available treatment options to men experiencing erectile dysfunction and enables patients, in consultation with their doctor, to choose the most appropriate treatment for their needs,” FDA Office of Drug Evaluation III deputy director Victoria Kusiak said.
The Food and Drug Administration has approved a drug made by GlaxoSmithKline for certain cancer patients. GSK announced the FDA approval of Votrient (pazopanib) for patients with soft tissue sarcoma who have received prior chemotherapy. Soft tissue sarcomas are a group of rare cancers that affect the mesenchymal cells, which give rise to such soft tissues as muscles, nerves, fat and blood vessels. The incidence of STS was 10,980 in 2011, according to the American Cancer Society.
A company that manufactures pharmacy dispensing machines has moved into a new headquarters. RxMedic Systems announced the opening of its new headquarters in Wake Forest, N.C., a suburb of Raleigh. The company said expansion of product lines created the need to move into a new location. “With our recent growth, we had just outgrown our previous location,” VP David Williams said. “Now, we have much more space for both product development and manufacturing.”
E-prescribing spreads like wildfire in retail Rx
Big trends can sometimes take centuries or even millennia to develop. Think about how long it took between the dawn of anatomically modern humans and the adoption of agriculture. Health care is no different, having come a long way since the days of bloodletting and the assorted quackeries that were once considered acceptable medical practices.
But there’s one trend in health care that has happened with astonishing speed, particularly in the United States: the adoption of electronic prescribing. According to the latest numbers from e-prescribing network Surescripts, there were 16,000 office-based prescribers who had adopted e-prescribing in 2006. Within two years, that number climbed to 74,000, but that still represented only 12% of the total. By 2011, however, that number had reached 390,000 — 54% of all prescribers in the country. The numbers from the pharmacy side have increased even faster. In 2008, 46,000 pharmacy retailers, or 76%, were set up for e-prescribing; in 2011, it was 56,900, or 91%. Of those, chains have adopted the technology to the greatest degree, with 98% of chain pharmacies using it, compared with 79% of independents. According to Surescripts, of the 62,461 community pharmacies in the United States, 64% are part of a chain, while 36% are independents.
One case in particular is Walgreens, which in March announced a program with Surescripts whereby it would send immunization records directly from Walgreens and Duane Reade stores, and Take Care Clinics, to primary care providers using Surescripts’ Clinical Interoperability services, with plans to share immunization data with public health authorities starting later this year.
Currently, the percentage of prescriptions transmitted electronically remains relatively small: In 2011, 570 million prescriptions, or 36%, were sent electronically — but compare that with 2008, when that figure was 68 million, or 5%. The reason for the discrepancy, according to Surescripts, is that actual use of e-prescribing tends to lag adoption, with the most recent adopters among prescribers using it less than those who adopted it in earlier years.
At the same time, adoption has been somewhat uneven when examined on a state-by-state level. So far, according to Surescripts, Massachusetts has seen the most comprehensive use of e-prescribing, while such states as Minnesota and Oregon have seen widespread use as well. On the other hand, adoption has been relatively light across Nevada and California, and appears almost nonexistent in all but a few portions of Alaska. Also, while e-prescribing is common in Dallas and Houston, it’s extremely rare, if not absent, in many other Texan counties, with Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota showing similar patterns.
One major reason why e-prescribing has seen such dramatic growth is government incentives under the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008. According to a report released in February by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, nearly $271 million was paid to physicians as part of the eRx Incentive Program in 2010, an 83% increase over 2009, the first year of the program, when the program paid out $148 million. The payments went to 65,857 individual professionals and 18,713 practices. The CMS report also found that almost 700,000 professionals were qualified to participate in the eRx Incentive Program in 2010, compared with close to 669,700 in 2009.
At press time, CMS didn’t have complete data for 2011, but it found that by 2011, 160,959 eligible professionals, or 26.3% of those eligible, had submitted data for the eRx measure through claims.
Generic Plavix arrives at Walmart, Sam’s Club stores
BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Walmart and Sam’s Club will be among the first retailers to offer a generic version of an antiplatelet drug.
Clopidogrel, the generic version of Plavix, will be available at both banners pharmacies on May 19. The patent for the Bristol-Myers Squibb/Sanofi drug officially expires Thursday.
"Many of our customers struggle with the cost of health care in America and forego filling prescriptions to make ends meet," said John Agwunobi, president of Walmart U.S. health and wellness. "Walmart is focused on bringing our customers the lowest prices on the products and services they need to stay healthy, including aggressively delivering new generic medications as they are released."