In brief: Providers merge, neb-meds reverse course

Friday, December 13, 2013

HIGH POINT, N.C. – Advanced Home Care has merged with WellStar HME & Infusion to expand its footprint in Georgia, the provider has announced. Marietta, Ga.-based WellStar HME & Infusion provides home infusion, specialty pharmacy and home medical equipment and services in the greater Atlanta area. “We entered the Atlanta market at the beginning of 2013 with the purchase of a company in Norcross,” said Joel Mills, CEO of Advanced Home Care, in a release. “Our new relationship with WellStar strengthens our commitment to this region.” Advanced Home Care announced on Jan. 1, 2013, that it had acquired Extrakare. The merger also allows Advanced Home Care to broaden its services to WellStar Health System, an integrated healthcare delivery system that includes numerous medical centers, hospitals, urgent care centers and other providers. WellStar Home Health is not part of the merger and will continue to provide in-home nursing for infusion patients, according to the release. Advanced Home Care will continue to operate its Norcross location. In all, it has 34 locations throughout Georgia, North Carolina, South Caroline, Tennessee and Virginia.

ASP: Budesonide reverses course

BALTIMORE – When it comes to nebulizer medication pricing, one quarter you’re up; another quarter you’re down. Average sales price (ASP) figures for the first quarter of 2014 revealed a decrease for budesonide (J7626) of nearly 35 cents to $5.60 per dose. That’s in contrast to the previous quarter, when the drug increased 85 cents. The only other drugs to see increases for the upcoming quarter: brand names Brovana (J7605) and Perforomist (J7606), which increased 22 cents and 6 cents, respectively. That puts pricing for Brovana at $5.77 and Perforomist at $6.36. There was relatively little change for other neb meds. Albuterol (J7613) and ipratropium (J7644) were both down less than one cent to just under 12 cents per dose each.

Invacare board member sells shares

ELYRIA, Ohio – C. Martin Harris, a member of the board of directors of Invacare, sold 1,775 shares of company stock Dec. 9, according to new reports. Harris sold the shares for, on average, $22.15 each, for a total of $39,316. Harris, who is the chief information officer and chairman of the Information Technology Division at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, now owns 16,806 shares of Invacare stock, worth about $372,253.

Liiv turns to Onehealth & One Source for diabetic supplies

LOS ANGELES and HOLLAND, Mich. – Onehealth & One Source’s Diabetic 360 program is now the exclusive provider of diabetic supplies and education to Liiv’s clients, the companies announced Dec. 13. Diabetic 360 offers blood-glucose meters, diabetic supplies and full-spectrum healthcare information. “Managing the health status of individuals through an integrated care management program is the most effective way to improve compliance and reduce health-care costs,” said Mike Archambault, Onehealth CEO, in the release. Liiv provides online health management and wellness programs. 

Orthotic Holdings buys SafeStep

RONKONKOMA, N.Y. – Orthotic Holdings Inc. (OHI) announced Dec. 12 that it has acquired SafeStep, a provider of therapeutic footwear, custom ankle-foot orthotics and other podiatry DME. “The acquisition of SafeStep is consistent with OHI’s vision of creating a complete continuum of care for our healthcare partners,” said Jason Kraus, OHI president and COO in the release. SafeStep provides more than 500 shoe styles from eight manufacturers to more than 3,000 medical practices. The company helps podiatrists remain compliant with Medicare by streamlining billing and procurement. OHI’s brands include Langer Biomechanics, Arizona AFO and The Orthotic Group. It distributes medial technologies throughout North America, Europe and Australia.

VMI creates Veteran Advocate Center

PHOENIX – Vantage Mobility International (VMI) and its dealers have created a Veteran Advocate Center at the company’s Phoenix headquarters. At the center, which is part of VMI’s Operation Independence, a team of former military personnel assists and supports disabled veterans who may qualify for mobility vehicles through Veterans Affairs, according to the release. “The process of finding and applying for veterans’ benefits can overwhelm even the most patient and tech savvy veteran,” said Jeff Weston, VMI vice president of sales and business development, in the release. “Our Veteran Advocate Center team is solely focused on helping our veterans obtain the mobility vehicle benefits.”

Convaid expands Canadian distribution

TORRANCE, Calif. – Convaid has expanded distribution of its products in Canada through a new partnership with Drug Trading, the company announced Dec. 11. Drug Trading is the oldest and largest independent pharmacy program and services provider in Canada, according to the release. “With the addition of the Drug Trading partnership, Convaid is experiencing double-digit growth in Canadian sales,” said Chris Braun, Convaid president, in the release. 

CVS Caremark, Cardinal create nation’s largest generic source

DUBLIN, Ohio and WOONSOCKET, R.I. – CVS Caremark and Cardinal Health have agreed on a 50-50 partnership to create the nation’s largest source of generic drugs, according to a Dec. 10 announcement. Both companies will contribute their sourcing and supply chain expertise to the joint venture and will source generic drugs through it. Over the 10-year term of the agreement, Cardinal Health will pay CVS Caremark $25 million each quarter, but neither company will contribute physical assets. “This venture is an extremely compelling combination where volume and efficiency matter,” said George Barrett, chairman and CEO of Cardinal Health, in the release. Both companies have a toe in the HME industry: Cardinal Health acquired AssuraMed earlier this year, and CVS Caremark bought Apria’s home infusion business, Coram, in November.

Complex rehab stakeholders fight capped-rental change

WASHINGTON – Providers, consumer groups, clinicians and other stakeholders are fighting a rule that will transition certain complex rehab codes to capped-rental items in April, according to a bulletin from NCART. First on their agenda: Communicate concerns to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner and ask for an immediate delay in implementation until at least July 1, 2014. They also seek an in-person meeting as soon as possible to discuss needed modifications to the rule, according to the bulletin. Stakeholders will also meet with lawmakers to encourage them to reach out to CMS on the issue.

CPAP use may help lower blood pressure, study says

VALENCIA, Spain – Sleep apnea sufferers with hard-to-control blood pressure may find an ancillary benefit to CPAP therapy: Spanish researchers say it may lower resistant blood pressure. In a study published Dec. 11 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers examined sleep apnea patients taking three or more blood-pressure medications. Those who used CPAP for 12 weeks saw a drop in their diastolic blood pressure, according to the study, partly funded by Philips Respironics. “The prevalence of sleep apnea in patients with resistant high blood pressure is very high,” said head researcher Miguel-Angel Martinez-Garcia of Valencia’s Polytechnic University Hospital. “This treatment increases the probability of recovering the normal nocturnal blood pressure pattern.”

Rice Home Medical invests $1M in new look, new store

WILLMAR, Mich. – Retail is the focus of Rice Home Medical’s newly renovated space in Willmar, Mich., according to a story in the West Central Tribune. In addition to doubling its retail space, the company has added a sleep wellness center for CPAP and BIPAP machines. “We’re at a changing time in our industry,” Mike Schramm, chief executive, told the newspaper. “There continues to be much more of a need for patients in the home setting. We’re really trying to diversify our services to enable care at home.” The store, which also includes a women’s health area, now retails therapeutic and diabetic shoes, clothes and home equipment in what staff call a boutique setting. Over the past couple of months, the company has invested $1 million to renovate the Willmar store and an Alexandria store, and break ground on a new store in Redwood Falls, according to the newspaper.

Insulet, Amgen form agreement

BEDFORD, Mass. – Under a five-year agreement announced Dec. 10, Insulet will supply biotech company Amgen with a device to deliver medications. Insulet makes the OmniPod insulin management system. “We are thrilled to advance our collaboration with Amgen to supply this version of our technology,” said Duane DeSisto, Insulet president and CEO, in a release. “Insulet’s current device, the OmniPod, is a unique drug platform that provides the ability to vary the rate at which medication is infused.”

Medtrade Spring has new schedule

LAS VEGAS – Medtrade Spring will run from Monday through Wednesday this year, March 10-12, organizers have announced. “Unlike in past years when the show ran from Tuesday to Thursday, it will run from Monday to Wednesday in 2014,” said Kevin Gaffney, group show director, in a release. “Attendee feedback has demonstrated to us that this is a more convenient timeframe.” Early bird registration for the Las Vegas event is open through Dec. 31. 

Family: Son died because medical equipment was removed

ATLANTA – A Georgia woman has filed a $10 million lawsuit against Odyssey Hospice and Mobility Warehouse, alleging her disabled son died after the companies removed his medical equipment from the home. Eight days after delivering an oxygen concentrator and other medical equipment to Emmanuel Lee, who suffered from chronic heart and lung problems and was receiving home health care, Mobility Warehouse removed the equipment and Lee collapsed, according to court papers. A physician’s affidavit included in those papers placed blamed on “the removal of the equipment …resulting in destabilization, decompensation and eventual death.”

BMC pledges to fight ResMed’s allegations

BEIJING – Weeks after ResMed announced it won preliminary injunctions in its German patent-infringement case against BMC, the Chinese sleep therapy device maker is pledging to fight. “We will take all the measures required to defend our IP and products, thus protecting our consumer and business interests against the preliminary injunctions,” stated BMC President James Xu in a release. The preliminary injunction that ResMed won did not and could not take BMC’s story into account, according to Ulrich Worm, an attorney retained by BMC. “The court’s decision to grant the preliminary injunction does not mean the court has concluded that BMC’s products infringed the patents,” Worm said. “Until now, no hearing is conducted.” ResMed is pursuing similar legal action in the U.S. BMC has also retained patent specialist Gary Hnath of Mayer Brown to fully contest those proceedings.

Shirvinsky gives notice

HARRISBURG, Pa. – John Shirvinsky, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of Medical Suppliers (PAMS), will resign Dec. 20 after 10 years, according to Medtrade Monday. Chuck Blackburn, chairman of Blackburn’s, credited Shirvinsky for shoring up the association’s financial standing and making it “one of the more influential and successful state organizations in the industry.” Shirvinsky previously worked in the coal, steel and solid waste industries, and was chief of staff to the attorney general of Pennsylvania.


In last week’s HME Newswire story, “Liberator Medical Supply moves to Big Board,” the company’s ticker symbol should have been LBMH.