In brief: Device maker buys Liberator, lawmakers seek complex rehab clarification

Friday, November 20, 2015

MURRAY HILL, N.J. – C.R. Bard, a manufacturer of medical devices for vascular, urology, oncology and surgical specialty fields, announced last week that it has acquired Liberator Medical for $181 million.

Liberator is a director-consumer-provider of home medical supplies, including catheters, ostomy, diabetes and mastectomy.

“As the population ages and more healthcare is expected to occur outside of the hospital setting, we believe that having direct access to the patient in the home is strategically important,” said Timothy Ring, Bard CEO and chairman. “We look forward to adding a strong distribution platform with potential for future growth to our product and technology platforms.”

Liberator was founded by Mark Libratore, a former Liberty Medical exec, more than a decade ago and has enjoyed steady growth since. In August, the provider reported net revenues of $20.4 million for its fiscal third quarter ended June 30, 2015, a 9.7% increase compared to the same period last year. Liberator began trading on the New York Stock exchange in 2013 under LBMH.

The transaction is structured as a merger and is expected to close in the first quarter of 2016.

OptumRx expands services with buy

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. – OptumRx, the pharmacy care services business owned by Optum, has acquired AxelaCare Health Solutions, a provider of home infusion solutions, the company announced last week.

“AxelaCare’s at-home services will enable us to more effectively support the growing number of people managing complex conditions, many of whom require infusions that increasingly involve higher-cost specialty medications," said Larry Renfro, Optum CEO, in a release.

Founded in 2008, Lenexa, Kan.-based AxelaCare treats patients with autoimmune diseases and hemophilia. It was acquired in 2013 by private equity firm Harvest Partners and began actively making buys. AxelaCare serves patients in 44 states through its network of registered nurses and 34 pharmacies.

OptumRx serves more than 13.5 million people through mail-service pharmacies and a national network of more than 67,000 community pharmacies.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

ResMed buys distributor in Denmark

SAN DIEGO – ResMed has acquired Maribo Medical, a distributor of sleep-disordered breathing medical devices and accessories in Denmark. Maribo Medical has been an exclusive distributor of ResMed devices and accessories for more than 15 years. “Maribo and ResMed together will accelerate growth while improving patient quality of life and reducing total healthcare system costs in Denmark,” stated Anne Reiser, president of ResMed, EMEA-APAC. Maribo Medical employees, including CEO Mette Oaxvaerd Larsen, will continue in their current roles.

HME champion tapped to lead congressional subcommittee

WASHINGTON – Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Ohio, has been named chairman of the Subcommittee on Health of the House Ways & Means Committee. “Having (Tiberi) in a leadership role on Capitol Hill will greatly help the prospects for policies that improve patient care, while also creating a fair regulatory climate for HME providers nationwide,” said Tom Ryan, president and CEO of AAHomecare, in a release. Rep. Tiberi introduced H.R. 284, a bill to reform the competitive bidding program, which was signed into law in April.

Ways and Means Committee seeks clarifications on accessories plan

WASHINGTON – Key members of the House Ways & Means Committee last week sent a letter to CMS, asking the agency for additional details on its plans to apply competitive bid pricing to complex rehab wheelchair accessories. In the letter, Chairman Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, and Ranking Member Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., also urged CMS to “take the steps necessary to code the CRT-only items separately so that, as dictated by statute, these accessories are exempted from the competitive bidding pricing.” Meanwhile, industry stakeholders are working to build support for two bills, H.R. 3220 and S. 2196, which would prevent the application of competitive bid pricing to complex rehab wheelchair accessories on Jan. 1, 2016.
NCPA testifies on ‘undue influence’ of PBMs

WASHINGTON – National Community Pharmacist Association President Bradley Arthur testified at a Nov. 17 hearing on the “disproportionate market power” of pharmacy benefit management corporations. Arthur told members of the House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law that PBMs have “undue influence” on patients, health plan sponsors and pharmacies.

Arthur, a pharmacist, is co-owner of Black Rock Pharmacy and Brighton-Eggert Pharmacy in Buffalo, N.Y. “I can tell you that as a small business owner and health care provider, the current situation and overall business climate that exists in which market power is increasingly concentrated in an ever-shrinking number of corporations makes me apprehensive about what is around the bend,” he testified. Three corporations, Express Scripts, CVS Health and OptumRx, cover approximately 78% of patients managed by PBMs.

Philips celebrates COPD Day with song, website

NEW YORK – The Philips Breathless Choir made its debut last week at the famous Apollo Theater in Harlem, N.Y, in honor of World COPD Day, Nov. 18. The group was made up of 18 people living with chronic respiratory conditions. Each member of the choir was provided with the SimplyGo Mini, a portable oxygen concentrator from Philips Respironics. Philips Respironics has also launched a new resource for patients with COPD. The website aims to increase awareness and support for patients by providing tips for living with COPD.

J&J increases interconnectivity for diabetes management

CHESTERBOOK, Pa. – The Johnson & Johnson Diabetes Solutions Companies has announced that people using LifeScan’s OneTouch Reveal mobile app for managing their diabetes can now view their blood sugar readings directly in the Apple Health app on their iPhones. They can also choose to privately and securely share that data with their healthcare team. “We’re thrilled to offer this new connectivity and ultimately help people have access to the information they need using the tools of their choice to better manage their diabetes,” stated Dr. Brian Levy, chief medical officer at LifeScan. Users of the OneTouch Verio Sync meter can wirelessly sync their data to the OneTouch Reveal mobile app for access across multiple devices. With this announcement, this information can now be synced with the Apple Health app, providing a comprehensive view of the overall health of users for themselves and, if they choose, their healthcare providers. While Johnson & Johnson Diabetes Solutions Companies champion interconnected diabetes management, they also realize that tens of thousands don’t have access to fundamental supplies. As such, they have also announced that LifeScan will donate 1.3 million blood glucose monitoring test strips in support of the Life for a Child program, an ongoing effort by the International Diabetes Federation to provide urgently needed diabetes supplies to children worldwide.

Short takes: Medical Service Co. and Aeroflow

Medical Service Companyhas opened a new location in Crestview Hills, Ky., to provide respiratory services and sleep services. The 65-year-old Cleveland, Ohio-based provider has 23 locations in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and West Virginia…Aeroflow Healthcare held a grand opening Nov. 20 to  celebrate its new office in North Wilkesboro, N.C. The Ashville-based provider hopes to better serve a regional medical center.