PHARMACY

Walgreens, CVS Caremark announce new PBM network agreement

BY Allison Cerra

WOONSOCKET, R.I., and DEERFIELD, Ill. The nation’s top drug store chains have reached a new agreement in which one will continue as a participating member of the other’s pharmacy benefit management network.

Nearly two weeks after Walgreens announced that it would terminate its provider relationship with CVS Caremark’s PBM network — to which CVS Caremark responded it would terminate Walgreens’ participation in its retail pharmacy networks in 30 days for violating contract agreements — the two pharmacy giants have reached an agreement in which Walgreens will continue participating in the CVS Caremark pharmacy benefit management national retail network for existing, new or renewal plans. With the continuing participation of Walgreens, the CVS Caremark national pharmacy network will have more than 64,000 participating pharmacies, including neighborhood independent pharmacies, chain pharmacies and those located in supermarkets and other major retailers.

The companies are not disclosing the financial terms of the new contract.

“We are very pleased with the outcome of this mutual, multiyear agreement that meets our business objectives,” said Kermit Crawford, Walgreens EVP pharmacy. “The agreement makes good business sense, provides the framework we need to operate our business going forward and assures choice and convenience for the many consumers who look to us for quality pharmacy care. The agreement is good for our patients, pharmacists and shareholders, and will allow us to continue to meet the needs of our customers across the country through the CVS Caremark network.”

Per Lofberg, president of CVS Caremark’s PBM business, added, “We are pleased to have reached a mutually agreeable solution together with Walgreens that is consistent with our top priority to provide convenient access to affordable, high-quality pharmacy health care. This new contract enables Walgreens to continue participating in CVS Caremark’s PBM national pharmacy network, provides enhanced network stability, eliminates any current or long-term disruption for our clients or their members and allows us to continue to fulfill our obligation to deliver cost-effective pharmacy benefits for our clients.”

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FDA approves Jevtana

BY Alaric DeArment

SILVER SPRING, Md. The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new treatment for advanced prostate cancer, the agency said Thursday.

The FDA announced the approval of Sanofi-Aventis’ Jevtana (cabazitaxel), a chemotherapy drug used with the steroid prednisone. The agency said the drug was the first treatment for advanced, hormone-refractory prostate cancer that has worsened during or after treatment with docetaxel, also a chemotherapy drug used in advanced prostate cancer. Hormone refractory prostate cancer happens when prostate tumors continue to grow despite treatments meant to reduce the body’s production of the male hormone testosterone, which helps prostate tumors grow.

“Patients have few therapeutic options in this disease setting,” FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research Office of Oncology Products director Richard Pazdur said. “FDA was able to review and approve the application for Jevtana in 11 weeks, expediting the availability of this drug to men with prostate cancer.”

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Report: Oregon State Board of Pharmacy declares marijuana as drug with medical use

BY Alaric DeArment

SALEM, Ore. The makers of the 1930s documentary “Reefer Madness” would be furious at the news, but it likely will come as a relief to people with certain diseases and marijuana law-reform advocates.

The Oregon State Board of Pharmacy voted Wednesday to have marijuana classified as a drug with medical use, according to reports from a local TV station. The decision makes the state to reclassify it as such.

Under the decision, marijuana will be known as a Schedule II controlled substance, meaning that it has high potential for abuse but still has medical benefits. Previously — and still in all other states — marijuana was a Schedule I drug, meaning it had no medical benefits.

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