Pharmaceutical News: Government ‘politicising’ PBS process

Government ‘politicising’ PBS process

Health groups say cancer patients and people with schizophrenia are among those who will be affected by the Federal Government’s decision to delay subsidising some medicines.

The Government has delayed putting several medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), against the advice of its Pharmaceutical Benefit’s Advisory Committee (PBAC), as it tries to find budget savings.

The Consumers Health Forum’s Carol Bennet says the Government has politicised the process and it is a false economy.

She says the Government is ignoring the advice of independent experts.

“The impact on the health system is likely to be far greater than the short-term financial gain that may be made by not listing these drugs,” she said.

“We’re concerned because this politicises what was previously a very good process that had integrity, that had independence from Government, and already takes into account the cost effectiveness of the medications that the PBAC recommends.”

Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon says the decision to delay giving subsidies for some medicines was about balancing priorities.

She says the Government is watching every dollar carefully.

“Those recommendations have always come to government for approval and government has always had to make choices whether to spend money on new listing of drugs or on other health priorities,” she said.

Ms Roxon is meeting concerned groups in Melbourne this morning, including the Australian Medical Association.

She says the independent assessments are detailed and the recommendations are taken seriously and there are other options for patients.

She says the Government is responsible to providing a broad range of health services, not just medicine.

“There are a range of other health needs that both they and other members of the community need in addition to access to medicines,” she said.

“Our Government is responsible for providing those as well and we need to be able to balance which is the most important priority at any particular time.”

EU Probes Teva, Cephalon Deal on Sleeping Drug

European Union antitrust regulators said Thursday they are investigating whether drug makers Cephalon and Teva were working to keep a generic version of sleep-disorder drug Provigil out of the European market.

U.S.-based Cephalon Inc. and Israel-based Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., one of the world’s largest generic drugs maker, in 2005 settled patent disputes relating to Provigil — which is also known as Modafinil — in the U.K. and the U.S.

As part of that deal, Teva agreed not to sell its generic version of Provigil in the EU as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway before Oct. 2012, the EU’s competition watchdog said.

The European Commission is now probing whether that agreement broke EU competition rules and had the “object or effect” of keeping generic Provigil out of the European market.

So-called “pay-for-delay” deals between brand-name and generic drug makers have come under scrutiny from competition authorities on both sides of the Atlantic, who fear such agreements hurt consumers who have to pay much higher prices for the brand-name drugs even after patents expire.

The U.S. Federal Trade Association filed a lawsuit against Cephalon in 2008, alleging the company paid off potential competitors to keep a cheaper version Provigil off the market.

Provigil, which treats sleeping disorders such as narcolepsy and obstructive sleep apnoea, generated $1.12 billion in revenue for Cephalon last year.

Cardinal Health fiscal 3rd-quarter profit climbs 11 percent, boosted by pharmaceutical segment

DUBLIN, Ohio — Cardinal Health Inc. said Thursday its fiscal third-quarter earnings climbed 11 percent, as the health care products distributor saw a big jump in profitability from its pharmaceutical segment.

The Dublin, Ohio, company also raised its 2011 earnings forecast.

Cardinal Health earned $246 million, or 70 cents per share, up from $222.4 million, or 61 cents per share, in the same quarter last year. Revenue rose 7 percent to $26.07 billion.

Adjusted earnings — which exclude discontinued operations, restructuring costs and other items — were 75 cents per share.

Analysts surveyed by FactSet expected, on average, earnings of 69 cents per share on $25.97 billion in revenue.

Cardinal Health said pharmaceutical segment profit climbed 25 percent to $384 million, helped by its pharmaceutical distribution business and acquisitions completed earlier this year. Medical segment profit slipped less than 1 percent due to the impact of commodity price increases on the cost of products sold and sluggishness in surgical procedure volumes.

Distribution, selling, general and administrative expenses climbed 11 percent to $697.3 million.

The company now expects adjusted 2011 earnings per share of between $2.61 and $2.67, up from its previous forecast of between $2.54 and $2.60. Analysts expect, on average, earnings of $2.60 per share.

Cardinal Health shares fell 62 cents to close at $43.49.

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