PHARMACY

Walgreens Specialty fortifies oncology service with six new oral therapies

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy on Thursday added six medications to its oral oncology cycle management program, in a significant expansion of the comprehensive treatment and support program it provides to benefit patients, physicians and payers, the company announced.

“Taking oral oncology medications as prescribed can be difficult for many patients, and this program has proven to be successful in improving patient outcomes while also lowering costs for patients and payers,” stated Michael Nameth, EVP Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy. “Expanding our cycle management program allows us to provide enhanced care and support to more patients as they cope with challenging oral oncology regimens.”

The additional medications now available to patients being treated for cancer through Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy’s cycle management program are: Afinitor and Votrient for kidney cancer; Sprycel and Tasigna for leukemia; and Targretin and Zolinza for lymphoma. The program previously included three primary cancer drugs: Nexavar for kidney and liver cancers, Sutent for gastrointestinal stromal tumor and kidney cancer, and Tarceva for non-small cell lung and pancreatic cancers.

The program, which launched in 2008, features regular monitoring of patients, as well as a “split-fill” dispensing system in which only half of the first month’s supply of medication is filled initially. This allows Walgreens clinicians to follow up with patients to monitor response to treatment and potential reactions or side-effects, helping to avoid medication waste and costs associated with early therapy discontinuation. And based on the cost of these oral agents, the waste avoidance can save payers between $2,000 and $4,000 per month, per patient.

Oral oncology medications often cost individual patients and their insurance providers thousands of dollars per month, Walgreens reported. The cycle management program saved more than $3 million combined during the first three months of therapy among 1,740 patients, through significant reductions in medication waste and improved adherence to medications, according to a Walgreens analysis.

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J&J seeks additional approval for anti-clotting drug

BY Alaric DeArment

RARITAN, N.J. — Drug maker Johnson & Johnson is seeking approval from the Food and Drug Administration for a drug to treat patients with deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism, the company said.

J&J division Janssen Research & Development announced the submission of a supplemental new drug application for Xarelto (rivaroxaban) to the FDA for the two conditions and for preventing recurrent venous thromboembolism.

The submission was based on three trials of the "EINSTEIN" program, which enrolled more than 9,400 patients around the globe. Xarelto, an anticoagulant, already is approved for reducing the risk of blood clots in the legs and lungs of people who have had knee or hip replacement surgery, and to reduce the risk of stroke and other complications related to migrating blood clots in some patients with atrial fibrillation. J&J is developing the drug with Bayer HealthCare.

 


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Following profitable Q3, Cardinal prepares for what may be a challenging FY2013

BY Michael Johnsen

DUBLIN, Ohio — The recent loss of business from a key specialty pharmacy customer and the continued deluge of generic introductions will represent significant challenges for Cardinal Health in fiscal year 2013 as it approaches the year-end of its fiscal 2012, company executives told analysts during a conference call Thursday morning.

"It’s quite an extraordinary time in the industry, we’re probably looking at the potential of total system-wide generic penetration exceeding 80% sometime next year, which is really a sort of mind-boggling number," Cardinal CFO Jeff Henderson told analysts.

The generic wave also will continue impact year-ago comparisons. For example, the No. 1 branded product Lipitor realized $7.7 billion in U.S. sales through 2011, according to IMS Health. That therapy alone represents a significant volume of revenue that will be reduced by generic introductions.

"We all recognize that our 2013 is going to be an interesting year with respect to revenue just given the shear volume of large branded products that have and will come off patent," added George Barrett, chairman and CEO of Cardinal Health.

With the branded-generic mix skewing decidedly generic, top-line revenue numbers may be slightly negative to flat next year even as margins are significantly enhanced.

Conversely, the loss of specialty business from one significant customer will have a significant impact on margins, Henderson noted, but the company is confident specialty revenue will continue to grow through 2013 with the acquisition of new business.

Regarding Cardinal’s wholesale business with significant retail pharmacy customers, Barrett reported the company renewed Kmart and Kroger to contracts that extend beyond fiscal year 2015. Both CVS Caremark and Walgreens contracts run through the summer of 2013, Barrett said. Barrett also confirmed Cardinal’s recent signing of Safeway to a multiyear agreement.

Cardinal Health is presently bidding for Express Scripts future business; its current contract has been extended through September.

Cardinal Health on Thursday reported a 3% increase in third-quarter revenue for fiscal 2012 to $26.9 billion and a 16% increase in non-GAAP diluted earnings per share from continuing operations to 94 cents.

Net earnings were up 36% for the third quarter to $333.4 million. The company raised the lower end of its guidance resulting in a revised range of $3.15 to $3.20 for fiscal 2012 non-GAAP diluted earnings per share from continuing operations.

"Our pharmaceutical segment continued its robust profit performance. Our medical segment fundamentals showed continued momentum, but as anticipated, profit was negatively impacted by the cost of commodity inputs," Barrett said. "However, we see the year-over-year impact of this dynamic subsiding in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012 and into fiscal 2013."

Barrett also introduced Don Casey, the new CEO of Cardinal’s medical segment, to the analyst community. Cardinal named Casey to the role on April 10, following the departure of Mike Lynch.

Casey started with McNeil Consumer Products in 1985 and served the next 24 years at Johnson & Johnson, during which he worked as company group chairman of LifeScan and Animas, group chairman and president of J&J’s vision care franchise, president of the Johnson & Johnson-Merck joint venture and president of eJNJ. Casey most recently was CEO for the Gary and Mary West Wireless Health Institute, a nonprofit research organization focused on lowering the cost of health care through technological solutions.

Casey will manage Cardinal’s medical-surgical products and services for hospitals, physician offices, clinical laboratories, ambulatory surgery centers, long-term care facilities and other health care providers. 

Casey succeeds Lynch, who will be leaving Cardinal Health to pursue his ambition to lead a company on his own in the Chicago area, Cardinal had announced last month.

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