Hospitals Plan to Produce Own Generics

Intermountain Medical Center in Utah is the flagship hospital of Intermountain Healthcare, which is leading a collaboration of U.S. health systems to develop a not-for-profit generic drug company.

As the FDA struggles to find solutions to basic drug shortages, hospitals have banded together to produce the drugs needed themselves. Approximately 500 hospitals, tired of scurrying to find the last of their IV bags or constantly running low on lidocaine and other drugs essential to everyday procedures, will be represented by Mayo Health Clinic and HCA Healthcare as they enter into a partnership with other healthcare companies and nonprofits such as Civica Rx. “Every day at Intermountain we manage more than 100 drug shortages, and most of them are generics,” Dr. Marc Harrison, President and CEO of Intermountain Healthcare, a system of 22 hospitals based in Salt Lake City, said in an interview with NPR. “The impact on patient care, in terms of trying to find alternatives and trying to find necessary drugs, is incredibly time-consuming and disconcerting.”

The new, independent company, which currently includes U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Intermountain Healthcare, Ascension, SSM Health, Trinity Health, and three philanthropic groups, will be producing 14 generic drugs that have three major issues: They’ve been on national shortage lists; they are on lists of essential medicines; and have experienced a 50% price hike between 2014 and 2016.

Drug shortages have become so widespread that Food and Drug Administration Commissioner, Scott Gottlieb, MD, in July created a task force to come up with solutions. According to NPR, last year the Justice Department, along with 45 states, accused a group of generic drug makers of price fixing. Dan Liljenquist, Chair of Civica Rx and Chief Strategy Officer at Intermountain Healthcare in Utah, told The Post, “We’re trying to do the right thing—create a first-of-its-kind societal asset with one mission: To make sure essential generic medicines are affordable and available to everyone.” Founding members already committed $100 million to the project and are on track to release their first generic as early as 2019.

Martin Van Trieste, previous Senior VP and Chief Quality Officer for Amgen and future Civica Rx CEO, tells The Post, “We want the marketplace to take care of itself and work, so if the entrance of Civica with 14 drugs—and the threat we can do more, pretty quickly, makes the marketplace work better, then we probably don’t grow much bigger than that. But if the marketplace is broken and can’t be fixed by adding just 14 drugs,” the assumption is that Civica Rx will keep making more. The new company’s primary aim is to keep important generics available in hospitals, countering the shortages pharma companies have created by neglecting production of low-profit drugs and hiking prices on essential, cheap medicines. The company also hopes to makes these generics 20% cheaper for participating hospitals.

Walmart Latest Retailer to Step into Healthcare

Walmart and Anthem offer Rx drugs with lowest price guarantees.

Already one of the largest U.S. pharmacies, Walmart has officially partnered with Anthem and is putting their lowest price guarantees behind their beefed up health supply section. One of the largest U.S. retailers, Walmart has been preparing for a debut in the healthcare field since June when it tapped former Humana executive, Sean Slovenski, as the leader of its health and wellness division. As part of the new partnership with Anthem, Slovenski has aimed marketing efforts towards encouraging Medicare patients to purchase OTC medications and even seek medical advice at Walmart pharmacies. Having lost out on a deal with PillPack when Amazon purchased the online pharmacy in June, Walmart has now turned its sights on Humana. Discussions have centered around multiple partnership options as well as a complete purchase of the insurer.

A constant rival of Amazon, the retail giant will be offering low-cost and discounted over-the-counter medicine, first aid supplies, support braces, and pain relievers, as well as healthy grocery items that Anthem’s Medicare Advantage customers can use their plan benefits to purchase. The store may leverage its advantage in having widespread physical locations by offering primary care, nurse practitioner consults, nutrition counseling, and other medical services, much like CVS MinuteClinics.

Walmart has been presenting itself as a trusted healthcare partner for years with many locations serving as a primary, one-stop shopping center in rural areas with few alternative health shopping options. It also understands its customers, primarily elderly and lower income citizens who visit their local store multiple times a month for anything from accessories for diabetes and heart conditions to discounted eyewear at in-store vision centers.

“Because of its strategic importance, we’ve decided to put more focus on our Health & Wellness business in the near term,” Greg Foran, CEO of Walmart U.S., said in a statement. Walmart has a number of options available for making itself a true presence in the healthcare market.

Joint Venture to Make Life Easier for Rare Disease Patients

SCOUT and Rare Expertise formed a joint venture to shorten and simplify the tedious and difficult patient journey for those with rare diseases. The partners aim to help people get an accurate diagnosis of their rare disorder in less time than the five-to-seven years it currently takes, as well as find medical professionals experienced in specific rare diseases and begin appropriate medical treatment as early as possible.

The leading marketing agency has already partnered with Rare Expertise, a company with proprietary data-driven tools for identifying and activating people with rare disorders on 30 rare disease brands and 20 rare tumor types. The companies both understand the challenges unique to rare disease marketing, and their complementary services and products offer marketers an unmatched array of business solutions at any stage of the patient odyssey.

“All of our clients are working to accelerate the process of identifying and activating people with rare conditions in a way that gets them to the appropriate doctor’s office so they can be accurately diagnosed and properly treated,” said Raffi Siyahian, Principal at SCOUT, in a statement. “Combining SCOUT’s strong strategic and creative marketing services with the technologically sophisticated products and services of Rare Expertise equips us to help patients, physicians, and healthcare companies achieve that goal. At last, companies can get this level of experience and innovation in a one-stop marketing partner.” The joint venture will be led by Siyahian as well as Jack Davis, Founding Partner of Rare Expertise, and Jeff Sweeney, Partner at Rare Expertise, from offices in Atlanta, Chicago, San Diego, and New York.

PatientPoint Becomes the Most Decorated Health Educator

The creative agency received 70 National Health Information Awards for consumer health education excellence in 2018. Over the past 14 years, PatientPoint point-of-care programs have been recognized with 572 National Health Information Awards, more than any other education and engagement provider in the market, including giants such as MayoClinic and AARP.

PatientPoint uses a highly customized approach to build content, tailoring education to individual specialties—with input from practicing physicians—as well as tailoring to the unique needs of patients and providers in the point-of-care environment.

“This recognition from the National Health Information Awards further confirms the power of our best-in-class content to educate and engage patients in the moments that matter—and keeps us laser-focused on creating content to make every doctor-patient engagement better,” said PatientPoint Founder and CEO Mike Collette in a statement.

Novartis Slashes 19% of its Ranks

Novartis CEO, Dr. Vas Narasimhan, announced plans to reduce its workforce.

As part of Novartis’ restructuring plan, CEO Vas Narasimhan, MD announced his plan to reduce Novartis’ overall workforce from 124,000 today to under 100,000 by 2022. This follows a streamlining effort that has cut back office operation costs by $3 billion since 2014. Most jobs lost will come from manufacturing and the company’s underperforming spinoff of its Alcon eye unit. While thinning the company’s workforce, Narasimhan is also pushing Novartis’ presence in biotech, where manufacturing is a complex and expensive enterprise. To do so, jobs will be added at the New Jersey plant manufacturing Kymriah, a personalized cell-based treatment for some patients with blood cancers, as well as at Swiss sites that focus on biologics.

Finn Partners Recognized for Life-changing Work

The Biden Cancer Initiative has announced 10 individuals and organizations out of 700 to be honored with a FIERCE Award. Of the 10 chosen, two are AOR assignments from Finn Partners clients, attesting to the work the agency does to change people’s lives by making a difference and even extending and sustaining patients’ life-span.

In addition to the FIERCE Awards, the organization has been nominated as Large Agency of the Year in the PRNews Platinum Awards and Finn Partner’s Peter Finn is nominated as CEO of the Year. While the agency and its employees await outcomes, they are already honored to be considered in these categories, being recognized for their dedication to help make a difference in patient lives.

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