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Medicare part D: short-term gains, long-term potential.

Verispan (Yardley, PA) measured Medicare part D's effect on the top 10 retail pharmaceutical companies during the first seven months of 2006. The agency revealed that five companies averaged nearly 11% of total part D sales, whereas the remaining five companies averaged just above seven percent. The national average for pharmaceutical firm sales to part D enrollees was 8.5%. Bristol-Myers Squibb, headquartered in New York City, ranked first in percentage of part D prescriptions (13.6%).

"This is what we expected," said Betty Sanna, Product Director, Managed Care, of Verispan. She told PRODUCT MANAGEMENT TODAY, "The data are not surprising, but the part D plan does appear to be affecting all of the major pharmaceutical companies."

Medicare part D is also affecting long-term industry sales. "We thought in the first year of implementation, we would see a modest increase in sales owing just to the volume increase," noted Ed Sagebiel, Spokesman, Eli Lilly and Company, Indianapolis. "Many seniors are receiving medications for the first time. In time, however, it may eventually become a very competitive environment."

Perhaps more notable was the effect the program had on the sales of specific prescription drugs. Verispan measured the prescription rates for dual-eligible and low-income enrollees versus voluntary enrollees, and the statistics revealed that for five of the 10 most-dispensed drugs to patients with Medicare part D (hydrocodone/ APAP, furosemide, lisinopril, atenolol, and hydrochlorothiazide), more than 75% of scripts came from the dual-eligible population. Of these five medications, four are used in the treatment of high blood pressure (not hydrocodone).

It is obviously in the best interests of drug companies to keep Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in part D. Eli Lilly announced that it will provide assistance to part D enrollees who take two Lilly medications and who face the "donut hole" in prescription drug coverage. The company's patient assistance program would extend assistance beyond the end of 2006 to Medicare patients for two drugs: Forteo (teriparatide injection), and Zyprexa (olanzapine).

"The actions Lilly is taking will help to ensure the smooth implementation of the Medicare drug benefit, and help seniors who are experiencing gaps in coverage or who have yet to select a drug coverage plan," said Sidney Taurel, CEO of Eli Lilly and Company. "They will help a subset of patients who require special attention and also assistance in maintaining continuity of care."

Other companies are also engaged in outreach to educate senior patients on enrolling in a plan D plan. Tony Zook, President and CEO of AstraZeneca, based in Wilmington, Delaware, told the Journal that the company has extended its patient assistance program to include low-income seniors enrolled in part D. "We are committed to helping everyone get the medicines they need, including Medicare part D enrollees, he said, and added, "Our expanded assistance program will help reach those who need it most."

Ed Sagebiel

Spokesperson

Eli Lilly & Company

Indianapolis
Figure. Pharmaceutical firm sales to Medicare part D enrollees
(national average), January 2006-July 2006. Adapted from
Verispan's Vector One: Payer, July 2006 data.

Rank by Retail Dollars Part D Prescriptions (%)

 1 Pfizer 8.8%
 2 GlaxoSmithKline 7.7%
 3 AstraZeneca 10.4%
 4 Novartis 8.9%
 5 Merck & Company 10.9%
 6 Johnson & Johnson 5.5%
 7 Teva Pharmaceuticals 7.6%
 8 Sanofi-Aventis 6.7%
 9 Eli Lilly 9.5%
10 Bristol-Myers Squibb 13.6%

Note: Table made from bar graph.
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Title Annotation:Health Care Briefs
Author:Sagebiel, Ed
Publication:Product Management Today
Date:Oct 1, 2006
Words:560
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