Walgreens to remain part of three ESI networks; Tricare not one of them
DEERFIELD, Ill. — To date, Walgreens and Express Scripts in the past month have navigated three one-off deals that will keep Walgreens’ more than 7,800 pharmacies in the ESI pharmacy network, but the U.S. Department of Defense’s Tricare does not look likely to become one-off deal No. 4, according to published reports.
The three one-off deals came to pass because those payers contractually are allowed to choose their own network of pharmacy providers. According to a report in Chicago Business powered by Crain’s, Express Scripts reported it has only six clients with contracts that would allow these one-off agreements, where a payer can in effect mandate the inclusion of Walgreens in ESI’s pharmacy benefit network, out of an overall client base of about 120 companies.
It doesn’t appear, though, that Tricare is one of those clients, as Walgreens on Monday reached out to ESI in an effort to keep serving the approximately 6 million covered by the Department of Defense health plan.
Walgreens on Monday renewed its efforts to lock in a contract with Tricare with what the Chicago-based pharmacy dubbed "an ironclad guarantee" that the drug store chain’s prices would match or beat the average costs per adjusted prescription of all other pharmacies in the Tricare network. Walgreens added that it will produce savings for the program "without disrupting beneficiaries’ choice of a network pharmacy provider."
Express Scripts turned down the offer, according to a report in the St. Louis Business Journal. "If Walgreens would offer a good deal for our clients, we would accept it," messaged Express Scripts spokesman Brian Henry to the Business Journal in an email on Monday. "As we’ve said all along, we would welcome [Walgreens] in our network, but only at rates that are right for our clients."
As previously reported by Drug Store News, Walgreens announced its withdrawal from the Express Scripts pharmacy network come January. Earlier this month, the two reached an agreement pertaining to MMM Healthcare and PMC Medicare Choice plans in Puetro Rico, which will allow MMM and PMC members to have continued access to the Walgreens pharmacy network.
On Friday, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City announced that Walgreens will remain in its Express Scripts pharmacy network as of Jan. 1, 2012.
CVS study: Flu shot myths put many people at risk
WOONSOCKET, R.I. — Consumers may be concerned about picking up germs, but flu shot misconceptions are standing in the way of many consumers doing all they can to protect themselves and their loved ones, according to a recent CVS/pharmacy survey.
"It’s always important to wash your hands frequently with soap and water, cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you sneeze, and avoid contact with those who are sick. But the No. 1 thing you can do to prevent the flu is get a flu shot," stated Papatya Tankut, VP pharmacy professional services for CVS/pharmacy.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that anyone ages 6 months or older should get a flu shot, including those who were vaccinated last flu season. Despite this recommendation, 42% of respondents are not planning on getting a flu shot this year.
Everyday preventive actions, such as hand-washing, can stop the spread of germs, yet are not always practiced. Although nearly all respondents (99%) said they almost always wash their hands after using a restroom, only 70% do so after blowing their nose. Seventy-six percent of respondents have gone to work with cold- or flu-like symptoms.
Misinformation about flu shots may contribute to the number of people who do not get vaccinated. The CVS/pharmacy survey revealed the following misconceptions:
Half of respondents (49%) thought flu shots are mainly for children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with chronic conditions, despite the CDC’s recommendation that everyone ages 6 months and older should get an annual flu shot;
35% believed flu shots can give people the flu, which is not true because the viruses used in the flu shot are inactivated;
25% did not think flu shots work very well, even though the flu shot provides you with the best possible protection from catching the flu;
22% thought flu shots can protect people for up to two years, but a flu shot is needed annually because the immunity provided by the vaccine declines over the course of the season; and
14% thought flu shots are dangerous, but the fact is that the federal government ensures the safety of vaccines through FDA oversight of rigorous prelicensure trials and post-licensure monitoring by the CDC and the FDA.
"Myths about the flu shot are prevalent, causing people to go unprotected each year and putting themselves and their families at risk," added Troyen Brennan, chief medical officer for CVS Caremark. "Vaccination is the first line of defense against the flu, and we encourage individuals to protect themselves with a seasonal flu shot."
African-American adults are more likely to have misconceptions about flu shots and are somewhat less likely than others to get a flu shot, yet are among the most concerned about picking up germs, according to the survey. Hispanic adults are more likely than others to do all the right things to avoid getting and transmitting the flu, and are among the most likely to plan to get a flu shot this year.
The findings were from a phone survey using random-digit dial from Aug. 16 to 25, among a demographically representative U.S. sample of 1,498 adults, ages 18 years and older. The sample consisted of a national sample of 500 adults, an additional sample of 460 African-American adults (total of 498) and an additional sample of 450 Hispanic adults (500 total). KRC Research of Washington, D.C., conducted the fieldwork on behalf of CVS Caremark.
Watson confirms generic Atelvia patent challenge
PARSIPPANY, N.J. — Watson Pharmaceuticals is looking to market a generic version of a postmenopausal osteoporosis treatment.
The generic drug maker said its subsidiary, Watson Lavs, has filed an abbreviated new drug application with the Food and Drug Administration for risedronate sodium delayed-release tablets in the 35-mg. strength. The drug is a generic version of Atelvia, which is manufactured and distributed by Warner Chilcott.
In response to the ANDA filing, Warner Chilcott filed suit against Watson last week in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey to block Watson from commercializing generic Atelvia prior to the expiration of patent Nos. 7,645,459 and 7,645,460. The suit was filed under the Hatch-Waxman Act, Under the Hatch-Waxman Act, which puts a stay of FDA approval on Watson’s drug for 30 months, or until the companies settle the matter.
Watson, however, said it believes it may be a "first applicant" to file an ANDA for the generic version of Atelvia and, should its ANDA be approved, may be entitled to 180 days of generic market exclusivity.
Atelvia had total U.S. sales of about $17 million for the 12 months ended in August, according to IMS Health data.