Berry, Moran to unveil legislation to clear sale of DME in pharmacies
Washington Reprising an effort they made last fall, two of community pharmacy’s most ardent supporters in Congress are hatching new legislation to clear away legal barriers to the sale of durable medical equipment by retail pharmacies.
Under recently imposed guidelines from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, pharmacists are the only licensed medical professionals that must meet the agency’s new accreditation requirements to sell Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics and Supplies. Those requirements — which are bitterly opposed by retail pharmacy advocates — restrict access to needed medical supplies by patients and impose unreasonable requirements on pharmacists, who are already licensed professionals, the two lawmakers assert.
In response, Rep. Marion Berry, D-Ark., and Rep. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., are jointly sponsoring a new bill to ensure patients have easy access to medical supplies. To do so, the legislation would add community pharmacists to “the long list of medical professionals that have been conditionally exempted from the requirement by CMS,” noted a spokesperson for Rep. Berry, the only member of Congress who has practiced pharmacy.
“In rural areas, including many small towns across Arkansas, community pharmacists are often the only medical professionals available who supply durable medical equipment to beneficiaries,” said Angela Guyadeen, Berry’s communications director. “The current law threatens their ability to serve their patients.
“Rep. Berry’s bill will help continue to provide Medicare patients with access to DME, while also helping to ensure that community pharmacies are not forced to close their doors,” Guyadeen added. The bill, to be introduced this week as the new Obama Administration takes office, will also spur momentum for healthcare reform, she noted.
Berry and Moran are winning strong support for their proposal from pharmacy and retail organizations, including the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the National Community Pharmacists Association, the American Pharmacists Association and the Food Marketing Institute.
“NACDS, along with other pharmacy groups, has worked closely with Reps. Berry & Moran to articulate the need to stop ill-advised regulations that could limit patients’ access to durable medical equipment from neighborhood pharmacies,” noted NACDS spokeswoman Chrissy Kopple. “The introduction of this bill is critical to pharmacy, and we appreciate the leadership of both members of Congress for introducing this bill early in this new Congress.”
Staedtler introduces watercolor markers and anti-break pencils
Chatsworth, Calif. Writing instrument manufacturer Staedtler recently unveiled a new product, as well as an added technology to their Noris Club colored pencil line.
The new product, Marsgraphic Jr. Brush Markers, act as watercolor paintbrushes but without the mess. The acid-free, AP-approved brushes create watercolor strokes when used with water and can be applied to both fabrics and paper. Suggested retail price for a 12-pack is $19.99.
Noris Club colored pencils are now built with Staedtler’s new Anti-Break-System. The entire stick of lead is surrounded by a white protective structure, increasing the pencil’s strength by up to 30%.
“The principle of this protective coating follows a clever example from nature,” said Monica Kapadia, Staedtler’s product manager. “Just like a bamboo cane, the white protective coating protects the lead core from the outside, strengthening the bond between the lead and wood in the pencil. The advantages are obvious: pencils with A-B-S do not break as quickly, don’t have to be re-sharpened as often and thus have a longer lifespan which ultimately benefits our environment as well.”
McKesson scrambles Canadian market with buyout bid for Uniprix drug group
SAN FRANCISCO The planned takeover of Quebec’s Uniprix drug store group by drug distribution and health services giant McKesson Corp. would add new muscle to McKesson’s aggressive bid for more of Canada’s pharmacy market and scramble the competitive landscape for rivals Shoppers Drug Mart, Jean Coutu Group and Katz Group Canada.
McKesson revealed Monday its offer to buy Uniprix Inc., which owns the Uniprix, Unipharm and Uniclinique store banners and comprises Quebec’s second-largest drug store group. The deal, which is subject to regulatory and shareholder approval, would add some 400 independent drug stores in Quebec that are serviced by Uniprix to McKesson’s fast-growing distribution network in Canada, and pose new challenges to Katz, Jean Coutu and Shoppers.
Under terms of McKesson’s offer, pharmacy owners under the Uniprix service umbrella would retain ownership in their stores. “McKesson Canada is enthusiastic about the prospect of this transaction, which will strengthen our longstanding business relationship with the Uniprix Group for the distribution of pharmaceutical products, over-the-counter medications and consumer products,” said McKesson Canada president Domenic Pilla yesterday. “We believe that if our offer is supported by the shareholders and approved by the regulatory bodies it will benefit the Uniprix Group’s independent member-pharmacists through enhanced product and service offerings to customers, while bringing increased financial flexibility to the banners and sustaining its network of independent pharmacy owners.”
Noting the nearly three-decade business relationship between the two companies, Uniprix president and CEO Francois Castonguay endorsed the merger, calling it “a natural partnership.”
The purchase of Uniprix would be the second major acquisition for McKesson Canada in recent months. Last June, the company bought Quebec-based Groupe PharmEssor, which serviced some 270 independent drug stores under the Proxim and ProxiMed banners.
McKesson now supplies pharmaceuticals and other products to 6,300 retail pharmacies in Canada, as well as 1,350 hospitals, long-term care centers and other institutions in the country. The company also provides automation services for some 2,500 retail pharmacies, according to a McKesson report.