Company news

July 15, 2013

Eli Lilly and Co. said it will test its experimental Alzheimer’s drug in patients with early stages of the disease after the medicine failed to slow the condition in more advanced patients. According to Bloomberg News, the trial of 2,100 patients, called Expedition III, will measure patients’ ability to do daily tasks like cooking or driving, and to remember words after a delay. Lilly is pushing ahead with the drug, called solanezumab, as potentially the first medicine to demonstrate that it treats Alzheimer’s causes rather than just the symptoms. The drug targets the buildup of plaque known as beta amyloid in the brain that’s thought to be a basis of Alzheimer’s. The trial should take about 22 months to complete. In earlier clinical trials, solanezumab failed to show overall effectiveness, but did appear to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s in patients with mild forms of the disease. Lilly’s new trial will use new tests for biological signs of the disease to help enroll early-stage patients and to see whether their illness is advancing. More than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, and the number is expected to surge to as many as 16 million by 2050 as the population ages, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. No drugs on the market have been shown to slow the disease. The market for medicines may be worth $20 billion annually, Deutsche Bank estimated last year. Merck & Co., Novartis AG, Roche AG and other large drugmakers are pursuing treatments.

San Diego-based American Specialty Health Inc., a wellness-program provider, plans to open an office in Carmel by March, employing at least 300 in “an operations, customer service and redundancy center.” Sources familiar with the situation said Carmel may also become the company’s corporate headquarters. Founded in 1987 in CEO George DeVries’ extra bedroom, ASH operates 13 subsidiaries that offer health-and-wellness services to employer groups, health plans and insurance companies nationwide. Its Healthyroads unit, for example, provides a Silver&Fit “healthy aging” program to Medicare Advantage beneficiaries. ASH and other players in the wellness industry are expected to keep growing thanks to provisions in the 2010 Affordable Care Act that create incentives to promote health-management programs. Privately held ASH reported revenue of $221 million last year, up 64 percent from 2009, when the company first appeared on the Inc. 5000 list of the country’s fastest-growing businesses. DeVries is a graduate of Culver Academies in northern Indiana and serves on its board. ASH already has a nine-person office on 96th Street in Indianapolis, and Freeman said those employees eventually will move to Carmel.

Indianapolis-based WellPoint Inc. will pay $1.7 million to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to resolve allegations it left the information of more than 612,000 members available online because of inadequate safeguards. According to the Associated Press, between Oct. 23, 2009, and March 7, 2010, security weaknesses in an online application database left the information of 612,402 people accessible to unauthorized users. That information included names, birthdates, addresses, telephone numbers, Social Security numbers, and health data. WellPoint, the nation’s second-largest health insurer, reported the breach to the Health and Human Services Department. The agency then started an investigation, saying WellPoint's actions may have violated the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA.

Catarmaran Corp., a pharmacy benefits manager, plans to hire 205 people within two years at a hub it's building in Jeffersonville, according to the Associated Press. The Illinois-based company has committed to hiring 104 full-time, permanent employees next year and a total of 205 by 2015. The jobs paying an average of nearly $24 per hour will include pharmacists, technicians, call-center employees and others.