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Virginia lawmakers move to block plan for mandated health coverage

BY Jim Frederick

WASHINGTON In an act of defiance against the Obama administration’s plan for healthcare reform, the Virginia legislature this week moved to block a provision in that plan that would mandate that Americans obtain health insurance.

Health reform opponents on Thursday applauded the move, which came Tuesday when the Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill that would make it illegal to require individuals to purchase health insurance. The measure already passed the state Senate and is headed to the desk of Governor Bob McDonnell, who is expected to sign the bill into law.

 

That will make Virginia “the first state to protect its citizens from a federal government mandate to obtain health insurance,” according to a conservative advocacy group called Americans for Prosperity, which has bitterly opposed efforts by Democrats to reform the U.S. health system. The group also claims that a total of 37 states are considering some form of “health care freedom act.”

The White House, for its part, has long proposed some form of mandated coverage for all Americans as a means of holding down insurance costs and ensuring that healthier Americans are also included in insurance pools. Under the Obama administration’s proposal, however, much of the cost of individual coverage could be defrayed or offset by tax cuts or other financial help for individuals who can’t afford the costs of coverage.

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CVS extends reach to Puerto Rico

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. CVS/pharmacy has entered Puerto Rico with its first two locations slated to officially open Feb. 15. The company plans to open nine stores on the island in 2010.

“We are pleaded to introduce the CVS/pharmacy brand to the growing Puerto Rico market,” stated Larry Merlo, president of CVS/pharmacy. “CVS is committed to provided high quality pharmacy care and offering convenient products and services at a great value to the Puerto Rican community.”

The openings will create about 400 new jobs in Puerto Rico this year. In addition to the new stores opening this month in San Juan and Bayamon, more locations are expected to open this year in Arecibo, Bayamon (two additional stores), Dorado, Fajardo, Vega Alta and Vega Baja.

As part of its entry into Puerto Rico, CVS/pharmacy announced a donation of $10,000 to Instituto Psicopedagogico de PR, a Bayamon-based agency that provides specialized health, nutrition, education and essential care to adults and children in Puerto Rico with severe mental disabilties to improve their quality of life.

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Decision Resources: Ulcerative colitis drug market could double by 2018

BY Alaric DeArment

WALTHAM, Mass. The market for drugs to treat ulcerative colitis could almost double within less than 10 years, according to a report released Thursday.

Market research firm Decision Resources said the market for the drugs could rise from the $1.2 billion they had in sales in 2008 to $2.1 billion in 2018 in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Japan.

The primary drugs driving growth are expected to be Humira (adalimumab), by Abbott and Eisai, and Simponi (golimumab), by Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co. and Mitsubishi Tanabe. The two drugs, both monoclonal antibodies belonging to TNF-alpha inhibitor class, could prove to be effective alternatives to existing maintenance therapies, though their high prices could limit their overall uptake.

“However, the short-term nature of corticosteroid treatment and the waning efficacy observed with immunosupressants and TNF-alpha inhibitors highlight the shortcomings of marketed products for ulcerative colitis both in induction and maintenance regimens,” Decision Resources analyst Kathryn Benton said in a statement.

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