PHARMACY

Survey: WAG-ESI dispute sends customers to independent pharmacies

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — Many Walgreens customers are "flocking" to independent pharmacies amid the dispute between the retail pharmacy chain and pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts, a trade group representing the PBM industry said.

The Pharmaceutical Care Management Association announced results of a survey conducted by North Star Opinion Research, touting the results as evidence of preferred pharmacy networks’ benefits to independent retail pharmacies and customers.

According to the survey, 72% of independent pharmacists with a Walgreens store in their areas have seen former Walgreens customers fill prescriptions at their stores, while three-fifths of those with a Walgreens in their area said former customers of the chain were more satisfied with their stores. Meanwhile, independent pharmacists said they had benefited from the Walgreens contract dispute by a 2-to-1 margin, and nearly all said customers had adequate access to pharmacies in their area.

"Since there are now more pharmacies than McDonalds, Burger Kings, Taco Bells, Pizza Huts and Starbucks combined, public and private payers can offer drug benefits that weed out drug stores that overcharge," PCMA president and CEO Mark Merritt said. "That’s good news not only for consumers, but for local drug stores."

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PHARMACY

Amerigen joins Bystolic patent challenge

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — Another generic drug maker has joined efforts to challenge the patent on a drug made by Forest Labs for treating hypertension.

East Brunswick, N.J.-based Amerigen Pharmaceuticals announced that it had filed with the Food and Drug Administration for approval of a generic version of Bystolic (nebivolol). Amerigen’s announcement followed news that Forest and Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceutica NV had sued Glenmark Generics, Hetero USA, Torrent Pharmaceuticals and Watson Labs on Tuesday over their filing for approval of their own versions. Watson also confirmed Wednesday that it had challenged Forest’s patent on Bystolic and sought to market a generic version of the drug in the 2.5 mg, 5 mg, 10 mg and 20 mg strengths.

Forest alleged that the companies named in the suit had infringed U.S. Patent No. 6,545,040, which is scheduled to expire in December 2021. Bystolic had sales of $391 million during the 12-month period ended in January, according to IMS Health.

 


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Winn-Dixie offers free tests for colorectal cancer, launches ‘Test for Life’ campaign

BY Allison Cerra

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — In line with National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, Winn-Dixie is offering customers the chance to pick up a free test at its pharmacies.

Through April 7, guests can pick up EZ Detect, a patented two-minute, noninvasive test that detects occult blood (blood not visible to the naked eye), which indicates bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract. The bleeding may be a symptom of colorectal disease, such as ulcers, hemorrhoids, colorectal cancer, polyps, colitis, diverticulitis or fissures, Winn-Dixie said. A list of pharmacies offering the test can be found here.

The offering is part of the chain’s "Test for Life" campaign, through which Winn-Dixie teamed up with UF & Shands Jacksonville and local news station Action News.

"Colorectal cancer screenings are recommended for men and women beginning at age 50 but it’s never too early to get tested," Winn-Dixie VP pharmacy John Fegan said. "We care about our guests’ health and want to encourage the community to take advantage of this opportunity and let friends know about these free tests. All it takes is one simple test to save a life."


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