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Health Alliance Announces First Fracture Protection Program for Actonel(R) (risedronate sodium) Tablets

URBANA, Ill., April 14 /PRNewswire/ -- Health Alliance Medical Plans, Inc., a leading provider-sponsored health insurer, covering more than 310,000 members in Illinois and Iowa, has announced an innovative Fracture Protection Pilot Program, in cooperation with the Alliance for Better Bone Health, the makers of Actonel, a prescription drug for the treatment and prevention of postmenopausal osteoporosis. Through the program, the Alliance for Better Bone Health will cover the average medical expenses incurred to treat certain non-spinal osteoporotic fractures in women correctly taking Actonel, by proportionally reducing Health Alliance's cost of purchasing Actonel.

This Fracture Protection Program puts Health Alliance at the forefront of the nation's healthcare policy providers. This new pilot program is for commercial plans and focuses on the effectiveness of the drug, rather than just the cost.

Jeff Ingrum, Health Alliance CEO, praises the new agreement. "At Health Alliance, we have a variety of member outreach initiatives, all meant to improve outcomes and control costs for our customers. The Alliance for Better Bone Health is backing up the efficacy of Actonel to help prevent non-spinal fractures with a concept that has been talked about for years by pharmaceutical manufacturers, but few have ever executed. To the best of our knowledge, no other osteoporosis drugs are offering a similar medical outcome reimbursement."

Under the Actonel Fracture Protection Program, the Alliance for Better Bone Health (Procter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals and sanofi-aventis) will help offset equivalent costs of a covered non-spinal fracture to Health Alliance for eligible members correctly taking Actonel prior to the fracture.

The pilot program could lower insurance costs for Health Alliance, which in turn, could be passed along to subscribers in the future.

Actonel is the only once-a-month osteoporosis pill approved to help prevent both spinal and non-spinal fractures in postmenopausal women. Non-spinal fractures were measured as a group, not separately.

Dan Hecht, General Manager for P&G Pharmaceuticals, North America, said, "Because we're confident in the clinically proven fracture efficacy of Actonel, we're willing to stand behind our product with this unique fracture reimbursement program."

"The Alliance for Better Bone Health and Health Alliance care deeply about the medical outcomes their patients get as a result of taking products like Actonel," said Brent Ragans, Vice President, General Therapeutics, for sanofi-aventis. "We're very pleased to be working with the Health Alliance."

About Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a silent disease that affects millions of postmenopausal women, making their bones weak and more likely to fracture over time. In fact, in the U.S. today, 8 million women are estimated to already have osteoporosis, and almost 27 million more are estimated to have low bone mass, placing them at increased risk for fracture. Each year the incidence of osteoporosis-related fractures is greater than the incidence of heart attacks, strokes, and breast cancer combined. The good news is that there are prescription medications available that effectively reduce both vertebral and nonvertebral fracture risk.

About Actonel (risedronate sodium) Tablets

Actonel is indicated for the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. Actonel is contraindicated in patients with hypocalcemia, known hypersensitivity to any component of this product, or inability to stand or sit upright for at least 30 minutes. Hypocalcemia and other disturbances of bone and mineral metabolism should be effectively treated before starting Actonel therapy. Actonel is not recommended for use in patients with severe renal impairment (creatinine clearance < 30 mL/min).

Bisphosphonates, including Actonel, may cause upper gastrointestinal disorders such as dysphagia, esophagitis and esophageal or gastric ulcers. Actonel should be taken according to the dosing instructions to minimize the risk of these events. Patients should discontinue use if new or worsening symptoms occur.

There have been reports of severe and occasionally incapacitating bone, joint and/or muscle pain in patients taking bisphosphonates. Rare occurrences of osteonecrosis, primarily of the jaw (ONJ), have been reported in patients treated with bisphosphonates. Most cases were reported in cancer patients receiving intravenous bisphosphonates, but some have been in patients treated orally for osteoporosis. Most cases were reported in patients undergoing dental procedures such as tooth extraction.

Most common adverse reactions reported in >10% of patients treated with ACTONEL and with a higher frequency than placebo are: back pain, arthralgia, abdominal pain, and dyspepsia. Hypersensitivity reactions (angioedema, generalized rash, bullous skin reactions), and eye inflammation (iritis, uveitis) have been reported rarely.

Please see full prescribing information for Actonel(R) for additional safety information. For a copy of the full prescribing information for Actonel visit the Actonel Web site at

About Health Alliance Medical Plans, Inc.

Health Alliance Medical Plans is a leading provider-sponsored health insurer in the Midwest, providing health care coverage to more than 310,000 members in Illinois and Iowa. Health Alliance is named one of 'America's Best Health Plans' in the 2008 U.S. News and World Report and National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) rankings of commercial and Medicare health plans. Additionally, in recognition of its exceptional commitment to quality, Health Alliance has maintained the highest accreditation possible from NCQA for its HMO, POS and Medicare HMO plans since 1997.

About the Alliance for Better Bone Health

The Alliance for Better Bone Health was formed in May 1997 to promote bone health and disease awareness through numerous activities to support physicians and patients around the globe. It is a collaboration between Procter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals and sanofi-aventis U.S.

SOURCE Health Alliance Medical Plans, Inc.
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