PHARMACY

Anda symposium offers networking, reform insights

BY Michael Johnsen

PALM BEACH, Fla. More than 250 executives participated in Anda’s Third Annual Supply Chain Symposium here Thursday and Friday, which included a keynote address around the projected impact of the healthcare-reform package with one of Washington’s leading policy experts. Additionally, more than 140 golfers had the opportunity to play 18 holes of golf on PGA’s Haig Course with former NASA scientist and golfing instructor Dave Pelz, who boasts 2010 Masters winner Phil Mickelson as one of his students.

The event kicked off the night before the golf festivities, however, with a series of one-on-ones that brought together Anda’s key customers and business partners. “The Anda Supply Chain Symposium is really designed to highlight Anda’s capabilities, bring together customers and manufacturers,” said Marc Falkin, VP marketing at Anda. “We shipped to an incredible amount of locations last year, and we just want to thank all of our manufacturers and customers for coming out.”

“[The symposium is a] great format to exchange business ideas [and] have a good time,” added Bill Versosky, Anda VP national accounts. “And we look forward to seeing everyone next year in Scottsdale, [Ariz.],” he added, for the fourth Anda Annual Supply Chain Symposium to be held before the National Association of Chain Drug Store’s 2011 Annual meeting. 

Friday’s lunchtime keynote speaker was Raissa Downs, Washington policy expert and co-founder of Tarplin, Downs and Young, who addressed the potential impact from the recently passed healthcare reform bill. The bill’s authors may have set the stage for continued vigorous debate when it comes time to implement budget cuts across programs like Medicaid and impose taxes, the combination of which are supposed to fund the overall reform. “The political consequence of that I think we’ve seen a little bit of, but we’re going to have a better flavor for it in November,” she said, noting that while the healthcare legislation may have been bipartisan in the beginning, the final version was passed without a single Republican vote.

There are many items within the current healthcare legislation that are expected to have a lasting impact on the pharmaceutical distribution industry. “The Medicaid rebate was expanded somewhat significantly, [which] has meaningful implications for a lot of products,” she said.

Some of the other important provisions included exclusion of certain pharmacies from DME accreditation requirements and an approval pathway for follow-on biologics. “A lot of people have been watching [this issue] since serious negotiations took place on the creation of a pathway for generics and follow-on versions of biologics to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration,” Downs said. “The generic community, in all candor, wishes the number of years of data exclusivity were lower in the final bill, but the fact of the matter is the pathway was created — and that’s significant.”

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CVS Caremark forges ahead with medication adherence initiatives

BY Antoinette Alexander

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT Underscoring the vital role that pharmacists play in the U.S. healthcare system are the findings of the recent CVS Caremark study, which found many patients believe that their specialty pharmacy team plays an important role in medication adherence. There’s a $300 billion reason why this is important.

(THE NEWS: CVS Caremark: Patients believe specialty pharmacy team encourages medication adherence. For the full story, click here)

It is no secret that medication adherence is a major problem facing the industry and is draining billions of dollars out of the already-fragile U.S. healthcare system. A lack of medication adherence is frequently at the root of preventable hospitalizations and patient illness and the resulting costs to the U.S. healthcare system have been estimated to be about $300 billion annually.

CVS Caremark has been hard at work embarking on an array of research initiatives to try and find ways to improve medication adherence and, as a result, help patients live healthier lives. For example, at the recent 22nd Annual Meeting of the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy, CVS Caremark presented study findings that showed pharmacy benefit managers can employ a variety of tools to encourage medication adherence and close key therapy gaps. Now, CVS Caremark has set its sights on specialty pharmacy.

Adherence is especially important for specialty pharmacy because, as the article states, specialty pharmaceuticals are typically injectable or infused drugs requiring special handling and used in the management of chronic, rare and complex conditions including as multiple sclerosis or rheumatoid arthritis. Because these medications are often expensive, generally require special handling, require training for proper administration and can cause bothersome side effects, patients can face many barriers to medication adherence and persistency.

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NACDS hails Sen. Grassley’s targeting of rogue ‘phantom pharmacies’

BY Allison Cerra

ALEXANDRIA, Va. A group catering to the drug retailing industry thanked Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, for addressing the government’s need to crack down on “’phantom pharmacies’ that defraud Medicare and other public health programs.”

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores sent a letter to Grassley, following the senator’s letter to the Dept. of Health and Human Services’ secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, regarding fraud committed by the so-called pharmacies.

“As the national trade association representing one of the most respected and reputable industries in the healthcare system, we strongly support efforts to identify and rid health insurance programs of such pernicious behavior,” wrote NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson, in his letter to Sen. Grassley. “These so-called pharmacies not only damage the reputation of our highly trusted industry, but they also take advantage of innocent seniors and the American taxpayer. Therefore, we commend your efforts.”

NACDS added that industries at high risk for fraud — particularly, the healthcare industry — should be protected by anti-fraud programs.

The complete letter is available here.

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