PHARMACY

Advocacy groups support House pharmacy bill

BY Adam Kraemer

ALEXANDRIA, Va. With the House of Representatives scheduled to vote later today on H.R. 6331, a health care bill introduced by Ways and Means chairman Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., community pharmacy is throwing the full weight of its influence behind the bill’s passage.

While the bill, titled the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008, closely mirrors S. 3101–which failed to receive enough votes last week to achieve cloture–a third provision was added that is also critical to ensuring continued patient access to community pharmacies. In addition to speeding up the reimbursements for Medicare Part D claims and delaying cuts to Medicaid generic prescription drug reimbursement; it includes a delay in the flawed Medicare durable medical equipment, prosthetics and supplies competitive bidding program.

In a letter to Rangel and House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman John Dingell, D-Mich., National Association of Chain Drug Stores president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson acknowledged them for their commitment to pharmacy issues and applauded the decision to include language in the bill to provide a delay in the implementation of the competitive bidding program. “This delay will provide the time necessary to ensure that Medicare beneficiaries fully understand the program and that there are a sufficient number of suppliers to ensure that access to durable medical equipment such as diabetes supplies is not disrupted,” the letter noted.

“The House of Representatives can improve America’s health care system by voting for H.R. 6331. The bill strengthens patient access to the valuable services the nation’s 23,000 independent community pharmacies provide patients by addressing three fundamental problems,” stated Bruce Roberts, executive vice president and chief executive officer of the National Community Pharmacists Association. “We are very grateful to Speaker Pelosi, D-Calif., Majority Leader Hoyer, D-Md., Chairman Rangel and Chairman Dingell for not only moving expeditiously on these issues, but for also adding the DME provision to this bill. Everyone should have the same goal, which is keeping patients healthy by having a system based on common-sense policies. H.R. 6331 goes a long way towards making that vision a reality.”

“We thank you for your leadership on these issues and pledge to work with you to see that this bill is enacted into law this year,” stated NACDS’ letter. “By delaying billions in Medicaid payment cuts to retail pharmacies—the so-called AMP cuts—your bill will prevent pharmacies from facing the untenable situation of having to accept below cost payments when serving low income patients.

“As we expect the bill to come before the House tonight for a vote, we encourage passage of this legislation to help ensure that our nation’s retail pharmacies can continue serving millions of Americans every day.”

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FDA requests delay on Merck application for cholesterol drugs

BY Alaric DeArment

BOSTON The Food and Drug Administration has recommended that Merck wait until it finishes clinical trials of the cholesterol drugs MK-0524A and MK-0524B before re-filing a marketing application for them, Merck announced Friday.

The FDA rejected Merck’s application for the two drugs in April, and the FDA has advised that it should wait until it receives results from the clinical trial before re-filing.

MK-0524A is a combination of the drug Cordaptive and niacin; MK-0524B combines those ingredients with Zocor. Merck has said it does not plan to seek approval for MK-0524B until it completes the application for MK-0524A.

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Adheris’ Glaser dies at 53

BY DSN STAFF

BURLINGTON, Mass. Matthew Glaser, 53, senior vice president of Professional Services for Adheris, passed away from cancer this past Saturday.

Glaser was a respected leader in the retail pharmacy industry who spent over 30 years working in community, chain, hospital and institutional pharmacy settings. Since 1996, he had dedicated his experience and skills to growing Adheris from a start-up to a leading provider of pharmacy-based patient education and adherence programs. At Adheris, he worked with chain and independent pharmacies, ensuring the delivery of appropriate compliance and adherence programs to their patients.

Prior to his tenure at Adheris, Glaser served as vice president of Pharmacy and Professional Affairs for Brooks Pharmacy, and as assistant vice president of Professional Services and vice president of Managed Care at Hook-SupeRx. Earlier in his career, he spent several years serving in various management positions at CVS.

Glaser held a Bachelor of Science degree in Pharmacy from Northeastern University.

Glaser is survived by his four children; his mother and several siblings and nieces and nephews. Memorial contributions may be made in his memory to the Matthew P. Glaser Memorial Scholarship Fund at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy, Office of Advancement at 179 Longwood Ave., Boston, MA 02115.

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