Archive for June 2nd, 2010

Molly Mulebriar, Investigative Reporterette, To Release Findings

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

Ms. Molly Mulebriar, on assignment in South Texas, has indicated that her investigative report surrounding illegal insurance activities in the Valley will be issued sooner than later. Details to follow.

Brownsville Independent School District Tables Staff Recommendation Again

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

Last night the Board of Trustees of the Brownsville Independent School District voted to table an action item to renew the insurance consultant contract now held by Alamo Insurance Group of San Antonio. This is the second time in as many meetings that staff’s recommendation has been put on ice.

Valley Risk Consulting of McAllen, Texas, one of the vendors competing for the contract, was again brought up by Trustee Zayas. His observation that Valley Risk Consulting’s hourly rate of $125, compared to the incumbent’s global fee, was of note.

Staff mentioned during the discussion that one of the competing vendors, Willis withdrew their bid. One wonders what precipitated that? Conflict of interest perhaps?

The BISD health insurance contract is lucrative to the tune of +$40 million. Revenue streams within the various contracts that make up the self-funded package may be significant. The Consultant of Record, whoever that may end up being, will be tasked with advising and guiding the BISD towards controlling a significant taxpayer paid budget item.

In our review of public records obtained from the BISD, we suggest that savings to the self-funded group medical plan could exceed +40% while maintaining and even improving the benefits. We hope the BISD will hire a consultant who will have the courage to guide the trustees to the right decisions. It will take political courage.

Health Care Strategies for Texas Political Subdivisions

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

Amgen Proposes Premium Price for Prolia

By Adam Feuerstein 06/02/10 – 07:38 AM EDT

Stock quotes in this article: AMGN  

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (TheStreet) — Amgen(AMGN) shares rose Wednesday after U.S. regulators approved last night the company’s injectable osteoporosis drug Prolia earlier than expected.

Prolia is widely seen as Amgen’s most important new drug and a key driver for the company’s future growth. Prolia is administered via injection twice a year and will be used initially as a treatment for osteoporosis in post-menopausal woman.The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Prolia almost two months before the expected approval date of July 25. European regulators approved the drug for use there last week.

Amgen hopes to later expand Prolia’s approval into more commercially lucrative cancer indications, where it can treat bone-related side effects.

Amgen shares were up 3.5% to $52.52 in Wednesday pre-market trading.

The stock’s positive reaction to the Prolia news was due both to the earlier-than-expected FDA approval but also because Amgen priced Prolia higher than expected at $825 per injection, or $1,650 per year.

“We view this positively as it appears that Amgen was pricing Prolia with the oncology indications in mind,” wrote Citi analyst Yaron Werber in a Wednesday morning research note to clients. “Using this price, the annual cost for the cancer indications (once monthly at double the dose) translates to $19,800 vs. our projection of $12,240.” Werber rates Amgen a buy with a $64 price target.

Tuesday night’s approval of Prolia for osteoporosis does come with some strings attached. The drug is approved only for post-menopausal women at high risk for bone fracture and the FDA is requiring Amgen to conduct long-term safety monitoring of the drug and implement a risk-management plan to communicate the drug’s risk and side effects to patients and doctors.

Prolia’s twice-yearly injections will compete against pills for osteoporosis that are taken weekly or monthly.

The FDA is currently reviewing Prolia for use in various cancer indications, where the drug will be used to stop bone loss related to cancer and cancer treatments. Amgen is awaiting results later this year from a large, phase III study to determine if Prolia can stop the spread of prostate cancer to a patient’s bones.