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Pharmacy Trends for 2013 and Beyond

May 29, 2013 By: Nadia Category: HealthCare, Medicine Advice, Medtipster, Prescription News, Prescription Savings

As pharmacy trends shift and costs for plan sponsors increase, we continue to maintain a panoramic view of the industry to control medication spend for our clients. By keeping plan sponsors informed of these shifts and our strategies for handling them, plan sponsors are empowered to make informed choices about their pharmacy benefit plans. In the spirit of our transparent business approach, following are some key trends we foresee occurring in this marketplace.

Generics Plateau

In 2012, new generics entering the market reached record highs, with more than 80% market share as two major brand products (Lipitor and Plavix) lost their patents. The product with the fastest growth in 2012 was atorvastatin  – the generic version of Lipitor. The medications were considered blockbuster agents, with more than $1 billion in annual sales before turning generic.

While sales of generics grew, sales of brands decreased. Because of the influx of generic products, 2012 was a marquee year. As such, we expect fewer generics exclusivity periods in coming years, and generics are expected to reach a ceiling where they can no longer surpass their current market saturation.

Growth & Trend by Therapy Class

Therapy classes with the most growth in 2012, based on total scripts dispensed, included:

• Anti-depressants • Seizure disorders • Proton Pump Inhibitors

The top five therapy classes, which accounted for one-third of plan sponsor drug spend, included:

• Oncologics  (used to treat cancer) • Respiratory agents (used to treat asthma and Chronic   Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)) • Antidiabetics (used to lower elevated blood sugars) • Lipid regulators (used to lower high cholesterol or related   disorders) • Antipsychotics (used to treat schizophrenia and related   disorders)

Trends in Specialty

Less than one percent of the U.S. population uses specialty medications, but these products account for 25% of all pharmacy spend. As you are aware, the staggering costs in this pharmacy channel are not new. The good news is that we hope to see increased competition soon, with 38 specialty products expected to have patent expirations through 2017, and new legislation that will promote competition in this therapeutic space.

At the same time, the FDA has approved many more drugs in recent years that treat oncology and orphan diseases. Orphan drugs are used in treating very rare diseases, known as orphan diseases. Because of the niche market on these products, the cost to produce and sell them is very high. For instance, five of the most recently approved orphan drugs will cost at least $150,000 per patient per year. Costs for these products will only continue to rise, since drug makers and biotechnology companies for these products currently have no competition.

Generic Drug Delay Fight May Be Nearing Turning Point

June 21, 2010 By: Nadia Category: HealthCare, Medtipster, Prescription News, Prescription Savings

Generic Drug Delay Fight May Be Nearing Turning Point, FTC’s Leibowitz Says
06/21/2010 Source: Bloomberg News – Washington DC Bureau

The U.S. government’s decade-long fight to limit drugmakers’ ability to keep generic medicines off the market may reach “a turning point” soon, Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jonathan Leibowitz said.

The FTC is counting on a review by an appeals court to break a deadlock over agreements made by brand-name drugmakers that it says delay the introduction of lower-priced generic medicines. The focus is on the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, which may decide by August whether to review a deal between Bayer AG and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.’s Barr unit on when a generic version of the antibiotic Cipro can go on the market.

The Cipro case “signals a renewed concern about these pay-for-delay deals, and hopefully it will mark a turning point towards a legal rule that prohibits brand pharmaceutical companies from paying off their generic competitors to sit it out,” Leibowitz, 52, said in an interview. The review could bring the issue of agreements before the Supreme Court.

The fight pits drugmakers against the FTC, the Justice Department, pharmacies such as CVS Caremark Corp. and President Barack Obama, who cited the greater availability of generic drugs as a way to reduce health-care costs. There also is an effort in Congress to restrict the settlements.

Licensing Deals

The FTC contends brand-name makers offer generic-drug companies licensing rights on a product or other compensation in exchange for an agreement on when cheaper drugs are introduced. The agency said it supports settlements, except when there is some sort of financial consideration.

Medicines that generate about $92 billion in sales will face generic competition through 2014 because of expiring patents, according to the research firm IMS Health Inc. Medicines accounted for $250.3 billion in U.S. sales for brand- name drugmakers in 2009 and $35.8 billion for generic firms, according to Norwalk, Connecticut-based IMS.

Defending valid patents is vital, said Jerry Pappert, general counsel of Frazer, Pennsylvania-based Cephalon Inc. “If the branded company loses, it loses its franchise.”

Cephalon is being sued by the FTC, which contends the drugmaker paid more than $200 million for generic companies to drop their challenge to patents on its sleep-disorder drug Provigil. Cephalon says the settlements are in accordance with patent law.

No Delay

In the Cipro case, CVS and other pharmacies said Bayer paid $398.1 million for Barr to drop its patent challenge. David Stark, general counsel for Teva’s North America unit, said generic-drug makers aren’t delaying marketing products as a result of financial incentives. The agreements are no different than patent deals in other industries, he said.

Leibowitz said the agreements add to health-care costs. If some settlements between companies aren’t prohibited, “you’re going to pay seven, eight, 10 times as much as you otherwise would,” he said. The FTC said the deals cost consumers $3.5 billion annually, a figure disputed by economists such as Jonathan Orszag, senior managing director at the economic consulting firm Compass Lexecon in Washington and the brother of White House Budget Director Peter Orszag.

Courts have allowed the settlements as long as they don’t prevent entry of the generic beyond a patent’s lifespan.

In the Cipro case, the agreement allowed a generic drug to be sold six months before the patent expired, said Kathleen Jaeger, chief executive officer of the Generic Pharmaceutical Association, a Washington trade group.

‘Tremendous Value’

“The FTC doesn’t see the tremendous value the patent settlements have brought to the system,” she said.

Since February, courts have thrown out antitrust lawsuits over Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.’s blood-thinner Plavix and AndroGel, a testosterone ointment now made by Abbott Laboratories. The FTC lost a case over a settlement involving Schering-Plough Corp.’s K-Dur heart medication.

A three-judge panel in April upheld the Cipro settlement, though it recommended opponents seek a review by the full court.

The potential court review, along with legislation Leibowitz predicted Congress would pass this year, add momentum to efforts to limit deals. Senators Herb Kohl, a Wisconsin Democrat, and Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican, introduced an anti-deal measure. House legislation would bar the settlements.

‘Winds Are Shifting’

“The winds are shifting on the legal front, shifting on the commission front and on the legislative front,” said Robert Doyle, a former FTC official.

Ken Johnson, a senior vice president at the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, a Washington trade group, said brand-name drug companies need patent protection to justify the investments required to develop medicines. Drugmakers said the settlements also provide certainty as to when generics will enter the market.

Stark said a court review may not be significant.

“I don’t think it’s a foregone conclusion just because they take it up that they reverse the trend,” he said.

Marcy Funk, a spokeswoman for Leverkusen, Germany-based Bayer, declined to comment.

All parties are watching if the 2nd Circuit agrees to hear the Cipro case. The decision may come in August, said David Balto, a lawyer representing consumer groups.

Leibowitz said he believes the FTC has a strong hand. “I have yet to see an issue that’s as black and white,” he said.

The 2nd Circuit case is In Re Ciprofloxacin Hydrochloride Antitrust Litigation, 05-2851 and 05-2852, 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (New York).

Stater Bros. Announces Free Prenatal Vitamin Offering For Expectant Mothers (May Only)

May 04, 2010 By: Nadia Category: Free Prescriptions, Medicine Advice, Medtipster, Prescription News, Prescription Savings Source:, 5.4.2010 – Allison Cerra

A Southern California supermarket chain is offering free prenatal vitamins to expectant mothers this month.

In line with Pregnancy Awareness Month, Stater Bros.’ said its Super Rx Pharmacy will offer prenatal vitamins to those with a doctor’s prescription. Quantities must be written for a thirty-day supply and not to exceed 30 tablets. The free prenatal vitamin program will feature the generic version of these well-known brands:

  • Advanced Natal Care
  • Natal Care Glosstabs
  • Nata Tab Rx
  • Natal Care Plus
  • Prenavite
  • Ultra Natal Care

This initiative is one of several Stater Bros. has offered its customers. The supermarket chain also offers a free antibiotic program and $4 generic prescription drug program.

“Stater Bros. remains committed to the health and well-being of our valued customers,” stated Jack Brown, Stater Bros. chairman and CEO.  “As the only supermarket chain in Southern California to offer this program free of charge, Stater Bros. is proud to promote the health of mothers-to-be while easing some of the economic burden that many of our valued customers are facing.”

Vist to locate the Stater Bros. Pharmacy nearest you offering free prenatal vitamins.

Think Generics First!

March 10, 2010 By: Tylar Masters Category: Prescription Savings

Generic drugs are a safe and effective alternative for many reasons.

Not only individuals who require inexpensive health care alternatives commonly opt to use generics, but for economic reasons, everyone should think generics first. Generic drugs use the same active ingredients and carry the same side effects as their brand name counterpart. Generics and brand-name drugs are identical in their safety, purpose, effectiveness, and administration method. By identical, it could be defined as the drugs have identical active components or employ a bioequivalent composition of the brand-name equivalent. They are deemed bioequivalent if their pace and accessibility after being given in an identical quantity have like effects. Having parallel effects, both medicine forms have the same effects and amount of effectiveness.

You may ask, if brand name and generic medicines are so similar, why are brand name drugs more inexpensive than generic drugs? The expensive price of branded drugs stem from their research, process, and promotion. Since the brand name drug is recently made, a copyright is provided to grant them sole rights in selling the medicine. When these branded medicines are nearing their patent termination, other manufacturers go to the Food and Drug Administration to permit them to manufacture the generics.

Generic drug manufacturers don’t have a patent, thus the logic for their lesser price. Other generics can have a patent for the composition but not for the active ingredient. Because the generic manufacturers only have to apply and have no initial R&D prices, they can offer the drug at a smaller cost. Economics also have a function in the generic drug’s cheaper value. Since more producers can produce a generic version, there is higher competition in the economy. For one manufacturer to have a lead against the other, they must sell the medicine at a less expensive cost. With more customers, they can opt to have sales at a cheaper value.

Since generic drugs get their smaller prices from economic factors, it’s evident that a medicine’s value does not determine its quality. Some people are under the misconception that generic drugs have a smaller cost because they’re not as effective. Prior to reaching such a conclusion, you need to do research and comprehend the costing process behind it. The Food and Drug Administration makes certain that generic producers adhere to their criteria. These criteria are implemented to branded and generic medicine companies. Anyone with this price misreading should also know that 50 percent of the generics produced are done by branded manufacturers. Don’t be alarmed if the generic version applies a different combination of inactive ingredients. The differences also stem from a copyright issue. US copyright laws require that generics cannot look identical as the brand-name equivalent. Nonetheless, the generic will still use the same active ingredient process and mix to cause identical efficacy and results.

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