PHARMACY

Study: Healthcare companies think REMS in need of major overhaul

BY Alaric DeArment

BOSTON — Various companies in the healthcare industry are uncertain about the benefits of the Food and Drug Administration’s risk evaluation and mitigation strategy program, and most think it needs a major overhaul, according to a study by the Tufts University Center for the Study of Drug Development.

The CSDD called the study the first systematic look at REMS since the FDA introduced the program in 2008. The FDA requires drug companies to create a REMS when the agency decides it is necessary to ensure that a drug’s benefits outweigh its risks.

“A majority of the organizations told us they felt the REMS program needs a major overhaul and said that a REMS is a poor substitute for other improvements needed systemwide in drug education, communication, use monitoring, patient access and delivery of care,” CSDD associate director Christopher-Paul Milne said.

In addition to the three-quarters of respondents — which included drug developers, healthcare providers, insurance companies and others — who said the program needed an overhaul, and the 68% who said REMS programs are a poor substitute for other improvements, 86% said risk and benefit information were not well balanced in REMS communications, while 22% thought REMS was an improvement over the existing risk-management system.

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PHARMACY

Trimmed co-pays can help companies save money

BY Alaric DeArment

ORLANDO, Fla. — Companies that lower co-payments on prescription drugs while promoting disease management can lower their own healthcare costs, according to a three-year study commissioned by the Florida Health Care Coalition and published in the journal Health Affairs.

The study, which focused on patients with diabetes, found that companies combining disease-management programs with “value-based insurance design” can earn a return of $1.33 for every dollar they spend upfront on medication.

“Amid soaring healthcare costs, this validates that old saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and that’s especially true where it often hurts most: in our pocketbooks,” FHCC president and CEO Becky Cherney said.

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PHARMACY

AxiumPortal.com provides patients with convenient service

BY Alaric DeArment

LAKE MARY, Fla. — Specialty pharmacy provider Axium Healthcare Pharmacy has launched an online portal to complement its services, the company said Wednesday.

AxiumPortal.com allows patients to manage their accounts, request refills, make co-payments, set reminders and perform other functions.

“The technology is a tool that provides convenience and service on-demand,” Axium president and CEO Mark Montgomery said. “We can stay connected with patients 24/7/365 while providing the company a strong platform to scale the business model.”

The company said it also has plans to make the site usable by physicians, manufacturers, payers, distributors and others.

“Healthcare information systems are the future of health care in America,” Montgomery said. “AxiumPortal.com is another prime example of the capability Axium has within our industry.”

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