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Walgreens makes case of value outside of Express Scripts in SEC filing

BY Michael Johnsen

CHICAGO — Walgreens on Tuesday filed a document with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission titled "The Value of Walgreens" that specifically outlined what Walgreens can bring to an employer, exclusive of any relationship with a pharmacy benefit manager, such as Express Scripts. Specifically regarding its negotiations with Express Scripts, Walgreens stated: "Negotiations remain at an impasse, and Walgreens has begun informing patients that we will not be part of the Express Scripts network as of January 1, 2012."

"Excluding Walgreens from a pharmacy network will result in little to no savings for most sponsors and patients, and in some cases will raise costs while causing significant patient disruption, risking gaps in care and increasing administrative costs on plan sponsors," Walgreens stated. "There are options: Walgreens can contract directly with plan sponsors, or help plan sponsors establish a custom retail pharmacy network, if consistent with their current PBM agreements. Walgreens believes that our costs are in line with other retail pharmacies. In most cases, this would mean that Walgreens’ average cost per adjusted script will be within 2% of the average cost per adjusted script of the non-Walgreens retail pharmacy network, on an apples-to-apples basis."

Taken in its entirety, the white paper outlines the value that Walgreens provides to pharmacy benefit plan networks and addresses a number of claims Express Scripts has made in connection with the contract renewal impasse, including whether or not the 8,000-store chain offers competitive unit prices. The Chicago-based pharmacy also argued that networks with Walgreens can lower overall prescription costs through a combination of three factors: competitive unit prices, higher-than-average rates of dispensing generic drugs and promoting 90-day at retail supply of prescriptions where appropriate.

For the full white paper, click here.

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Armada Health Care, Hemispherx sign sales, distribution agreement for Alferon N Injection

BY Alaric DeArment

PHILADELPHIA — Hemispherx Biopharma and Armada Health Care have entered a sales and marketing agreement for a drug designed to treat genital warts.

The two companies announced Tuesday an agreement under which Hemispherx will manufacture and supply Alferon N injection (interferon alfa-n3 [human leukocyte derived]) to physicians and patients through Armada’s national specialty pharmacy network. Specialty distributor BioRidge Pharma will warehouse, ship and distribute the drug, the companies said.

"We are very pleased to have completed our discussions with Hemispherx and are excited to start preparing for the planned launch of Alferon N injection," Armada VP sales and marketing Brian Burke said. "As the only natural interferon approved in the U.S., we think Alferon N injection has great potential in our market."

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Francesco identifies next generation of switch

BY Michael Johnsen

LONG BRANCH, N.J. — Francesco International on Tuesday released a Rx-to-OTC projection report covering potential switches through 2016. The potential switches include drugs prescribed for chronic use or for asymptomatic conditions — two switch hurdles that to date have not cleared the Food and Drug Administration approval process.

The report outlined a group of potential nonprescription drugs coined by Francesco International as OTC-E, as in "enabled," to identify switch opportunities that may take advantage of today’s technological innovations to help augment self-diagnoses and self-selection in the OTC aisles.

Any OTC-E medicine would open potential OTC categories to such therapy areas as hypertension, lipid-lowering, osteoporosis, arthritis or incontinence, Francesco suggested.

"The U.S. healthcare system has been in an unsatisfactory gridlock for some years now with payers, providers, pharmaceutical companies, patients and consumers all somewhat frustrated," stated Steven Francesco, the principal author of the report and CEO of Francesco International. “Finally, the major players are now starting to move, and some of the new dynamics, especially the contribution of technology, are becoming apparent. If you can see what is starting to happen overall and then drill down with regard to the Rx-to-OTC switch, you can see some very positive trends emerging," he said. "This report captures what is happening now and what is likely to happen over the next few years, especially the implications for the Rx-to-OTC switch."

Francesco International will be teaming up with global research firm ORC International to present a webinar “The Revival of Rx to OTC Switch: Improved Market Dynamics Fuel Expansion,” scheduled for Sept. 21 at 1 p.m. Eastern time. Francesco International also will be presenting a second webinar with the pharmaceutical website Pharmalot.com, “The Major Growth of Rx-to-OTC Switch Category: OTC-E Drugs Will Lead the Way,” on Oct. 13 at 1 p.m. Eastern time.

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