PharmExec Blog

For Becton Dickinson, Medication Errors are a Business Opportunity

Over the next few years, med tech company Becton Dickinson will launch up to 30 generic, pre-filled syringes in an attempt to lower medication errors and raise company revenues, according to BD Rx president Mark Sebree.

One man’s goof is another man’s growth, potentially.

A study funded by Becton Dickinson and Company (BD) and published last December in American Health & Drug Benefits found that adverse events associated with injectable medication error in the clinical setting increase US payer costs by anywhere from $2.7 to $5.1 billion a year. On average, that’s $600,000 in extra costs per hospital due to improper administration of injected drugs.

BD Rx – a recently formed subsidiary of BD – will oversee the production and regulatory approval of a new line of pre-filled generic syringes. The first drug in the BD Simplist product line is an antihistamine injection called diphenhydramine hydrochloride, or generic Benadryl. Mark Sebree, president of BD Rx, says the line will span categories including antiemetics, blood modulators, pain management drugs, anesthetics, and other categories. The BD Rx subsidiary has no plans to develop biosimilars or branded vaccines, says Sebree.

Pre-filled syringes in commonly-used dosages can help prevent medication errors since each syringe has its own barcode and label, says Sebree. “Because these products are pre-filled and pre-labeled, and because the vast majority of these drugs are actually administered at the bedside, the label travels all the way to the patient,” meaning physicians or nurses get a second look just before giving an injection. Pre-filled injections also eliminate “the possibility of transcription error,” or incorrect data entry, one of the leading causes of medication error, says Sebree.

“We’re entering a market that, by our assessment, is worth $1.2 billion…our products will target 50% to 70% of that market,” says Sebree, adding that several group purchasing organizations (GPOs) have already signed agreements with BD Rx to purchase the syringes. The BD Simplist line of pre-filled syringes will be priced slightly higher than traditional injections, but at the hospital level, “there doesn’t seem to be any level of surprise about the price we’re requesting for these products,” says Sebree.

BD Rx has filed six other generic pre-filled syringes with FDA, and expects to launch between 20 and 30 products in the next three or four years, says Sebree. The approval of generic Benadryl marks BD’s first foray into pharmaceutical manufacturing. The company’s bread and butter are medical supplies and devices. On an analyst call last week, BD CEO Vincent Forlenza said the company expects the BD Simplist line to generate “incremental revenues of about $100 to $200 million by the end of fiscal year 2017.” BD Rx is targeting only the US for now, but “will certainly evaluate other geographies” going forward, says Sebree.

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