NEXIUM® (esomeprazole magnesium) Direct: Giving Patients Another Option In How They Receive Their Medication

By Rick R. Suarez, Executive Director, GI and Foundation Brands, AstraZeneca

When it comes to health, patients are increasingly becoming self-advocates and working more closely with physicians to take greater control of their health care and make choices that are right for them. Many patients want doctors to offer them choices and consider their opinions, including determining how and when they receive their medicines.

At AstraZeneca, everything we do is driven by our commitment to improving the lives of patients, and we are continuously looking for ways to ensure our medicines reach the patients that can benefit from them, particularly as their healthcare needs and preferences evolve.  It’s with this in mind that we created NEXIUM® (esomeprazole magnesium) Direct, an innovative service that provides eligible patients the option of having NEXIUM delivered directly to their home at no additional cost.

A subset of AstraZeneca Direct, NEXIUM Direct is the latest offering from AstraZeneca as we seek to better serve patients. Enrollment is simple; patients with a valid prescription can sign up at All orders are dispensed by registered pharmacists and certified pharmacy technicians through Eagle Pharmacy, a trusted pharmacy partner.  NEXIUM Direct also includes 24-hour support as well as refill reminders to help patients remember to take their NEXIUM.

Inspired by feedback we received directly from patients, AstraZeneca Direct initially began as a way for patients to get our brand name ARIMIDEX® (anastrozole) delivered at an affordable price, right to their door. The service is called AstraZeneca Direct because it offers patients a choice to have the medication their doctor thinks is right for them delivered straight from the original manufacturer.

At AstraZeneca, we want to make sure there are multiple avenues for patients to get their medicine. The role of the retail pharmacy is critical, and continues to play a major part in patients’ lives.  NEXIUM Direct and AstraZeneca Direct simply give patients yet another option along with another level of convenience.

2963708   Last Updated 3/14

AZ Lends Support for National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic

Now in its 28th year, the 2014 National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic was held March 30 through April 4 in Snowmass Village, Col., bringing together nearly 400 U.S. military veterans and active duty service men and women with disabilities to conquer a snow-covered mountainside.   Participants were provided adaptive winter sports instruction from more than 200 certified ski instructors– including current and former members of the U.S. Disabled Ski Team.  They also took part in a number of activities including alpine and cross country skiing, rock climbing, scuba diving, kayaking, snowmobiling and more.

For more than a decade, AstraZeneca has been a national sponsor of the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic, which is co-sponsored by DAV (Disabled American Veterans) and The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.  AstraZeneca’s support this year helped fund a weeklong stay in Snowmass for approximately 200 participants.

AstraZeneca is involved in a number of other initiatives throughout the year to support and make a difference in the lives of our military men and women.

AstraZeneca Employees Take Time to Give Back

Recently, AstraZeneca’s U.S. President Paul Hudson and Vice President of Corporate Affairs Rich Buckley joined forces with field sales employees in the Kansas City, Mo. region to volunteer at Connections to Success Kansas City. Connections to Success works to inspire individuals to realize their dreams and achieve economic independence by providing hope, resources and a plan. The AstraZeneca volunteers provided mentoring support for the Dress for Success Going Places Network, a Connections to Success program that helps unemployed and under-employed women suit up, gain professional skills, accelerate their job search and build confidence through weekly training sessions, one-on-one career coaching and networking in a supportive environment.

Connections to Success KC

This is one example of many efforts by AstraZeneca employees to serve their communities. At recent sales meetings, more than 1,000 AstraZeneca volunteers participated in activities to benefit local charities.  For example, in Orlando, Fla., employees built 70 adult rocking chairs, 70 child rocking chairs, 70 book shelves and 70 reading benches to give to the Heart of Florida United Way, in addition to donating approximately 875 books.

Heart of Florida

In Atlanta, Ga., AstraZeneca employees donated and sorted various materials such as DVDs, coloring books, toys, children’s clothing and much more for Children’s Health Care of Atlanta (CHOA). CHOA is a not-for-profit organization that provides specialized care to children and teens from all walks of life. They rely on support from the community and groups like AstraZeneca in order to serve kids from more than 150 countries in a caring and holistic way.

Children's Health Care of Atlanta

Whether volunteering at sales meetings, in the field with their teams or as individuals in their communities, AstraZeneca employees take time throughout the year to give back.

Successful Outcome on Medicare Part D Reminds Us Why Advocacy is Important

By Chuck Ingoglia, Senior Vice President of the National Council for Behavioral Health

Chuck Ingoglia, Senior Vice President, Public Policy and Practice Improvement, National Council  for Behavioral Health

Chuck Ingoglia, Senior Vice President, Public Policy and Practice Improvement, National Council for Behavioral Health

In January, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) surprised the patient and provider community when it issued a proposed rule seeking to make unprecedented changes to the successful and popular Medicare Part D drug program.   One of the most concerning of these proposed changes was the introduction of new criteria to evaluate the “drug classes of clinical concern,” most commonly referred to as the six protected classes.  These six “protected” classes of medications were identified by CMS during the implementation of the Medicare prescription drug benefit as needing special access for patients and providers, including drugs to treat mental illness, organ transplant, cancer, HIV and seizure disorders.

The proposal not only introduced new criteria, but it applied these criteria to the  protected classes and proposed removal of two classes in plan year 2015 – immunosuppressants and antidepressants – as well as removal in plan year 2016 for antipsychotics.  After hearing from patients, providers, legislators and the pharmaceutical industry, including the National Council for Behavioral Health and AstraZeneca, CMS announced on March 10th that it would abandon its recent proposal to strip mental health and immunosuppressant drugs of their protected status in Medicare Part D.

CMS’ decision comes on the heels of an overwhelming outpouring of bi-partisan support that was the result of unified and swift advocacy.  In addition to the National Council and AstraZeneca, members of Congress, the Partnership for Part D Access, and other concerned patient and provider groups submitted well over 1,000 comments to CMS opposing the changes.  This reversal demonstrates the power of various sectors working together – providers, patients and industry.

The National Council and AstraZeneca applaud CMS for its decision not to finalize the proposed changes to the protected class policy.  This change will allow millions of the most vulnerable beneficiaries to continue to confidently rely upon Medicare to provide them the drugs they need.

CMS noted it will gather additional input and reserves the right to advance changes in these areas in future years, and this possibility necessitates ongoing vigilance and willingness to continue to work together on matters of common interest.  The National Council and AstraZeneca are committed to such a partnership to preserve patient access and choice within the Part D program.

Chuck Ingoglia is Senior Vice President, Public Policy and Practice Improvement for the National Council  for Behavioral Health. There he directs the federal and state affairs function and oversees practice improvement and technical assistance programs offered to more than half a million behavioral health professionals.


Diabetes Alert Day: Are You at Risk for Type 2 Diabetes?

alert-day-2014-banner-300x250Today is the 26th annual American Diabetes Association (ADA) Alert Day, an opportunity to help raise awareness around type 2 diabetes and encourage people to take this quick ADA test to determine if they are at risk.  As part of this initiative, the ADA also invites people to engage in an active lifestyle, including participating in one or more of the many Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes® events taking place in cities nationwide.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that diabetes affects 25.8 million people in the U.S., with type 2 diabetes accounting for approximately 90 to 95 percent of all diagnosed cases. Many people with diabetes are unaware of their condition; according to the CDC, 7 million Americans who are living with diabetes remain undiagnosed.

Type 2 diabetes is characterized by high blood glucose levels caused by either a lack of insulin or the body’s inability to use insulin efficiently.  Type 2 diabetes develops most often in middle-aged and older adults but can appear in younger people as well.  Learn if you are at risk by visiting the ADA on Facebook, or by calling 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383).

Patient Assistance Explored In-Depth at CBI Annual Meeting

(L-R) Janice Monks, President and CEO, American Association of Service Coordinators; Leslie McGuire, AmeriCares Director of U.S. Medical Assistance; Jen McGovern, AstraZeneca Director of Patient Assistance programs

(L-R) Janice Monks, President and CEO, American Association of Service Coordinators; Leslie McGuire, Director of U.S. Medical Assistance, AmeriCares; Jen McGovern, Director of Patient Assistance Programs, AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca’s patient assistance programs have provided millions of people throughout the U.S. with free medicine for more than three decades.  These programs, however, cannot be successful without the support of partners such as AmeriCares, the American Association of Service Coordinators and other patient foundations and clinics that work tirelessly to ensure that the people they serve are aware of and utilizing the services and resources available to help them afford their medications.

On Friday, March 7, AstraZeneca’s director of patient assistance programs, Jen McGovern, along with President and CEO of the American Association of Service Coordinators Janice Monks and AmeriCares Director of U.S. Medical Assistance Leslie McGuire, participated in a panel discussion at CBI’s PAP 2014 annual meeting in Baltimore, Md. titled: Gaining Access to Medicines for Varying Patient Populations – Areas of Need for Patient Assistance Programs.  The panelists addressed topics critical to their organizations and to the continuity of patient assistance programs for the individuals they serve.

In 2013, AstraZeneca provided nearly $975 million in savings to more than 567,000 patients in the United States through its patient assistance programs.

In 2013, AstraZeneca provided nearly $975 million in savings to more than 567,000 patients in the United States through its patient assistance programs.

As the U.S. health system continues to evolve as a result of healthcare reform – from Medicaid expansion to the implementation of healthcare exchanges and other changes arising from the Affordable Care Act – those involved in patient assistance are working to evaluate how these changes are impacting their programs, and are looking for ways to address new challenges.   While the need for patient assistance remains, organizations and clinics must adapt.

In addition to the impact of healthcare reform on the organizations that offer and support patient assistance programs, the panelists also discussed changes and emerging trends among the specific patient populations they serve.  For example, organizations and clinics are starting to see more patients with coverage through Medicaid expansion or through the exchanges.   As a result, many of these patients (who have traditionally been unfamiliar with insurance processes) now need additional patient advocacy services to help them better understand their benefits, how to navigate through them, and where additional support services may be needed.

The panelists also discussed the synergies between their respective organizations and how they are working together to improve access to medication and care for patients, including by leveraging their networks to raise visibility around patient assistance programs so qualified participants nationwide can continue to take advantage of the benefits they deliver.

AZ R&D Boston Hosts U.S. Congresswoman Clark


(Left to Right) Alice Pomponio, Head of North America Science Affairs, AstraZeneca; Carl Barrett, VP Translational Sciences, Oncology Innovative Medicines, AstraZeneca; Ambar Ahmed, Research Scientist, Oncology Innovative Medicines, AstraZeneca; Rep. Katherine Clark, U.S. House of Representatives; Jeff Brown, Director Translational Science Lead, Oncology Innovative Medicines, AstraZeneca; Melanie Frigault, Translational Science Strategist, Oncology Innovative Medicines, AstraZeneca; Jacqueline Kirby, VP US Government Affairs, AstraZeneca

On March 10, AstraZeneca leaders hosted U.S. Representative Katherine Clark at the company’s Boston Research and Development (R&D) site in Waltham, Mass. for an overview of the company’s discovery research and a tour of its laboratories.  The Waltham location – which employs hundreds of talented AstraZeneca researchers, scientists and support staff representing more than 30 nationalities – serves as the company’s headquarters for small-molecule discovery research in North America and global infectious disease research, with an additional significant focus on oncology drug research.

The tour featured opportunities for Rep. Clark to learn about AstraZeneca’s scientific discovery center, conduct of pharmacologic safety assessments, and the company’s research in oncology.


(Left to Right) Prasad Nadella, Acting Head of Pathology, Global Safety Assessment, AstraZeneca; Rep. Katherine Clark, U.S. House of Representatives; Geoff Gallo, Director, U.S. State Government Affairs, AstraZeneca

“It was a pleasure to visit with senior leaders and scientists at AstraZeneca’s Waltham R&D facility to learn about the cutting-edge research and strategic partnerships that are helping to advance science and further the discovery of new medicines.”

As part of the burgeoning Boston R&D community which boasts more than 450,000 healthcare and medical research employees, more than 400 biopharmaceutical companies and more than 53,000 biotech employees, AstraZeneca has forged a number of innovation collaborations with area organizations.  These include the Broad Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Tufts University, Moderna, X-Chem, Enlight Biosciences, Foundation Medicine, Cubist Pharmaceuticals and more.

Opened in 2000, AstraZeneca’s Waltham R&D complex has since expanded to more than 500,000 square feet, including 285,000 square feet of laboratory space.  In addition to this site, AstraZeneca has a manufacturing facility located in Westborough, Mass. and a neuroscience research team based in Cambridge, Mass.

AstraZeneca’s roots in Massachusetts extend much farther than the research community.  For decades, the company has provided qualified patients in the state with free medicine through its patient assistance programs, which include AZ&Me and the MedImmune Assistance Program.  In 2013 alone, these programs provided more than $1.3 million in savings to more than 760 patients in Massachusetts.

AstraZeneca’s commitment to Massachusetts is also reflected in its community partnerships and investments.  The AstraZeneca Hope Lodge, for example, arose from the company’s collaboration with the American Cancer Society and allows cancer patients and their family members to reside free of charge while they receive treatment for their illnesses in some of the world’s premier hospitals.