Company news

May 14, 2012

Louisville-based Neace Lukens has acquired Indianapolis-based Benefit Concepts Inc. to expand its benefits-consulting business in Indiana. Benefit Concepts' six employees will move into the Neace Lukens office at 6510 N. Shadeland Ave., reporting to Eric Chelovitz, Neace Lukens managing director of Indianapolis. Even before the acquisition, Neace Lukens had about 30 employees in Indiana. The firm was acquired in September by Florida-based AssuredPartners Inc. Numerous small-benefits consultants have sold their businesses in recent years to larger companies, first as employer efforts to change workers’ health habits hiked demands on brokers and now as the 2010 health reform law significantly curtails the health insurance commission system on which many health care brokers have survived for decades.

Purdue University's trustees approved plans Friday for a new campus medical clinic that administrators expect eventually will reduce the school's $151 million in annual health care costs for employees and their families. The clinic is scheduled to open this fall on the West Lafayette campus under a three-year contract paying about $14 million to a private provider, the Journal & Courier of Lafayette reported. The center will be available to all active employees and dependents covered by a Purdue medical plan. Primary and acute care will be offered, with patients not being charged for wellness coaching, chronic condition management and lab work for blood and other tests. Purdue's contract with clinic operator CHS of Reston, Va., is valued at $13.2 million to $14.7 million. The university's contribution to health care costs increased 6 percent, to $10,580 per employee, for 2012.

Bad news from a competitor has darkened the cloud over one of Eli Lilly and Co.’s most anticipated experimental drugs, evacetrapib, which has shown promise at boosting good cholesterol in heart patients. Swiss drugmaker Roche Holding AG said May 6 it has halted testing of its dalcetrapib, which the company had hoped would become a blockbuster, according to Bloomberg News. That move comes five years after New York-based Pfizer Inc. dumped a similar drug called torcetrapib due to safety issues. Lilly and New Jersey-based Merck & Co. Inc. still are developing their drugs in a class known as CETP inhibitors. Drugmakers have hoped that such drugs could replace statins as the next big medicine for heart patients. Statins, such as Pfizer’s Lipitor, were huge blockbusters, but most of them have now seen their patents expire. A Lilly spokeswoman told Bloomberg the Indianapolis-based company is committed to evacetrapib and plans to start a late-stage study in the second half of this year. A Phase 2 trial of the drug showed that it increases good cholesterol up to 129 percent and reduces bad cholesterol as much as 36 percent.