Correspondent, U.S. health team leader
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Feb 16, 2012

Astra takes brand cancer drug straight to patients

By Lewis Krauskopf

(Reuters) – AstraZeneca Plc is selling breast cancer drug Arimidex directly to U.S. patients, offering an option for people who want to pay for the brand instead of generic versions.

Under the drugmaker’s new program, patients with a prescription can pay $40 a month for Arimidex to be mailed to their homes.

Feb 16, 2012

Insurers see costs in Obama birth control rule

By Lewis Krauskopf

(Reuters) – The Obama administration maintains that its plan to have health insurers pay for birth control offered to employees of religious groups won’t end up costing the industry. But insurers aren’t so confident.

Last Friday, President Barack Obama sought to placate outraged leaders of the Catholic church, which opposes contraception, by making insurers responsible for providing the free birth control.

Feb 14, 2012

Watson Pharma boosts profit forecast, shares rise

By Lewis Krauskopf

(Reuters) – Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc (WPI.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), the world’s fifth-largest generic drugmaker, lifted its full-year earnings forecast on Tuesday as it benefits from a generic version of the big-selling Lovenox blood clot prevention drug.

Watson also stood by its target of increasing profit in 2013 by roughly another 10 percent, even after giving the rosier 2012 outlook. Its shares rose 3.7 percent.

Feb 11, 2012

Insurers stuck with cost of Obama birth-control plan

By Lewis Krauskopf

(Reuters) – President Barack Obama’s compromise on free birth control coverage left health insurers stuck with the bill, sparking worries over the precedent set by the new policy.

Obama on Friday made insurers responsible for providing free birth control to employees of religious groups, aiming to placate outraged leaders of the Catholic church who oppose contraception and to defuse an election-year landmine.

Feb 10, 2012

Health insurers question Obama birth control plan

By Lewis Krauskopf

(Reuters) – U.S. health insurers said on Friday they feared President Barack Obama had set a new precedent by making them responsible for providing free birth control to employees of religious groups as he sought to defuse an election-year landmine.

Obama on Friday announced the policy shift in an effort to accommodate religious organizations, such as Catholic hospitals and universities, whose leaders are outraged by a new rule that would have required them to offer free contraceptive coverage to employees.

Feb 10, 2012

FDA issues plan to avoid heparin contamination

By Lewis Krauskopf

(Reuters) – U.S. health regulators issued recommendations to manufacturers to ensure the safe production of the blood-clot prevention drug heparin, four years after a contamination involving the widely used product set off concerns about the global pharmaceutical supply chain.

The draft guidance, posted on the website of the Food and Drug Administration, is designed to help manufacturers of active ingredients, finished products and others better control heparin to avoid contamination.

Feb 9, 2012

Analysis: U.S. healthcare stocks face obstacles after 2011 run

NEW YORK (Reuters) – After beating the market in 2011, healthcare stocks may struggle for a repeat performance this year as cash-strapped Americans keep putting off use of medical services and investors seek out faster growth stocks as the economy improves.

So far this year, healthcare has underperformed the broader market: The Standard and Poor’s Healthcare index is up about 4 percent compared to a 7 percent increase for the S&P 500 index .SPX.

Feb 6, 2012

Humana forecast is below Street view; shares fall

Feb 6 (Reuters) – Humana Inc reported a
quarterly profit that met analyst estimates, but the health
insurer failed to raise its full-year forecast up to Wall
Street’s target and its shares fell 5.4 percent.

Shares of the large provider of Medicare plans for seniors
have soared in the past year as Wall Street grows more bullish
on the industry’s opportunities in Medicare. After Monday’s
results, some investors may have been selling to lock in
profits, said Les Funtleyder, a portfolio manager with Miller
Tabak.

Feb 2, 2012

Cigna profit misses views, sees 2012 below Street

Feb 2 (Reuters) – Insurer Cigna Corp (CI.N: Quote, Profile, Research) posted a
lower-than-expected fourth-quarter profit, hurt by weaker
results in its disability and life coverage business and
disappointing earnings in its international plans, and forecast
2012 earnings below Wall Street’s target.

The company, one of the largest U.S. health insurers, also
said on Thursday its outlook for the year includes an expected
rise in use of healthcare services among its members. Shares
fell 3.7 percent in premarket trading.

Feb 1, 2012

Aetna profit rises, helped by low claim costs

By Lewis Krauskopf

(Reuters) – Health insurer Aetna (AET.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) posted a sharply higher quarterly profit in line with Wall Street’s target as its members’ low use of health services kept claim costs down.

The No. 3 U.S. health insurer on Wednesday also backed its 2012 profit forecast.

    • About Lewis

      "I help coordinate coverage of healthcare companies for Reuters in the United States. I also cover health insurers, pharmacy benefit managers, generic drugmakers and pharmaceutical companies."
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