PHARMACY

Salix, Progenics ink licensing deal for Relistor

BY Alaric DeArment

TARRYTOWN, N.Y. — Salix Pharmaceuticals and Progenics Pharmaceuticals have entered a licensing agreement for a drug used to treat side effects of opioid use.

The two companies signed the agreement for Relistor (methylnaltrexone bromide), an injected drug used to treat opioid-induced constipation in patients for whom laxatives haven’t worked.

Under the agreement, Salix will license rights to the drug worldwide, except for in Japan, where Progenics has an agreement with Ono Pharmaceuticals. Salix will pay Progenics $60 million upfront and $90 million in milestone payments, as well as up to $200 million in royalties on sales and 60% of all revenue received from non-U.S. sublicensees.

Worldwide net sales of the drug were $16 million in 2010, according to the companies.

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PHARMACY

Kerr Drug supports Sen. Hagan’s MTM legislation

BY Alaric DeArment

RALEIGH, N.C. — Two pharmacy trade groups already have given their blessings to legislation that would support medication therapy management, and a retail pharmacy chain that has made MTM part of its mission is following suit.

Kerr Drug announced its support for the Medication Therapy Management Empowerment Act of 2011, which Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., recently introduced. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the National Community Pharmacists Association endorsed the bill last week.

Speaking before the Senate Thursday, Hagan argued that medication therapy management services could reduce healthcare costs, which already have climbed to about $290 billion.

“We have proven MTM programs in North Carolina with Medicare seniors and employers that save upwards of $8 for every dollar invested in the program,” Kerr Drug VP pharmacy and government relations Mark Gregory said. “[MTM] programs have strengthened the patient and pharmacist relationship, and in many cases have afforded patients a better quality of life.”

Medication therapy management involves pharmacists taking an active role in management of patients’ health care, reviewing medication regimens for interactions, looking for generic alternatives and advising patients on how to take their medications. It first received official recognition with the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003.

“The most effective and cost-effective way to ensure seniors take their medication properly is through the counseling of a pharmacist,” Kerr Drug CEO Tony Civello said. “The evidence shows pharmacists can improve patient health and save healthcare dollars because pharmacists are often the most accessible healthcare provider for patients.”

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At NACDS conference, Merlo and Anderson note pharmacy victories

BY Allison Cerra

NAPLES, Fla. — Pharmacy’s role in the U.S. healthcare system has expanded dramatically over the past two years, thanks to several victories gained through pharmacy care and services.

Speaking at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores’ Regional Chain Conference, NACDS board chairman and CVS Caremark president and COO Larry Merlo said that scientific research has further demonstrated how care and services provided by pharmacists and pharmacies have improved health outcomes of patients and cut costs for the healthcare system.

"Investments being made by many pharmacy and healthcare companies are helping [to] illustrate and further quantify the value of pharmacy care," Merlo said. "We should be pleased and proud with what the research is showing — with scientific rigor. The conclusions have been clear: Increasing efforts to promote pharmacy care can save the healthcare system significant dollars while improving health outcomes. … [Research shows] the evolution of the pharmacist from not just a dispenser of products, but to a provider of services."

Merlo cited such victories for pharmacy as:

  • The expansion of medication therapy management services;

  • Fostering viable pharmacy reimbursement in federal and state government programs;

  • Shaping drug disposal policy, preventing co-pay increase in the military’s Tricare program; and

  • Allowing e-prescribing for controlled substances.

Building on Merlo’s remarks, NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson said that while pharmacy has achieved several victories this year, one cause that needs to be built on is the defeat of massive Medicaid pharmacy cuts under the average manufacturer price model. AMP, Anderson noted at the conference, still remains a challenge for pharmacy.

“From this broader perspective, AMP remains before us. In fact, at the federal and state levels, we need to ‘Re-AMP.’ … We need to maintain our forward position and our fire in the belly," Anderson said at the conference. "We need to fight for victory because defeats are unacceptable for pharmacy viability and for patient care. While ultimate victory for pharmacy cannot yet be claimed, we are seeing the power of our progress and the interim victories that we have earned together. Our position is stronger than ever before and so is our platform for future transformation. That is good because tremendous challenges remain — but none that we cannot confront together.”

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