PHARMACY

Bill would prohibit federal PBM contracts with companies operating PBMs, retail pharmacies

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON A bill to reform pharmacy benefit managers made headway in the House Wednesday as a subcommittee vote sent it to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

The Federal Workforce, Postal Service and District of Columbia Subcommittee voted Wednesday to send H.R. 4489, the FEHBP Prescription Drug Integrity, Transparency and Cost Savings Act, to the full committee. The bill was introduced in January by Reps. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., Gerry Connolly, D-Va., and Elijah Cummings, D-Md.

Current law prohibits companies that own a PBM and manufacture drugs from doing business with FEHBP health plans, but the bill would extend that restriction to companies that operate PBMs and own retail pharmacies; one such company is CVS Caremark, one of the largest PBM contractors for the FEHBP. CVS Caremark has a contract with the FEHBP that will last until the end of 2011.

“The legislation proposed by Congressman Lynch would not benefit plan participants, the plans themselves or taxpayers, but would instead reduce the number of competitors for the program and thus increase costs for beneficiaries and taxpayers,” CVS Caremark spokeswoman Christine Cramer told Drug Store News. “In addition, while the bill calls for oversight and transparency provisions, the Office of Personnel Management already has rigorous oversight and transparency requirements and regularly audits PBMs providing services to FEHBP plans.”

The Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, an industry trade group for the PBM industry, also expressed opposition to the bill.

“Seventy-four percent of those enrolled in FEHBP oppose a new effort by Congress to reduce pharmacy choices, arbitrarily set prices and limit the number of pharmacy organizations which can participate in the program,” PCMA president and CEO Mark Merritt said in a statement. “FEHBP enrollees feel that [the Office of Personnel Management] does a great job managing the program and think Congress is more likely to hurt than help the program by forcing OPM to change FEHBP’s pharmacy benefits.”

The bill would also prohibit unauthorized prescription switching by PBMs, require them to return 99% of all drug rebates to the FEHBP and require them to give the Office of Personnel Management full access to certain data and broad auditing rights.

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PHARMACY

Hooper Holmes launches Diabetes Know Now!

BY Allison Cerra

BASKING RIDGE, N.J. Hooper Holmes announced a new, interactive health-screening platform that can efficiently identify people with undiagnosed diabetes or prediabetes.

Diabetes Know Now! is an innovative “screen before the screen” that combines an online diabetes risk assessment with an at-home diabetes laboratory test. Users complete an online diabetes risk assessment that places them in three risk categories — high, moderate or low. Users at high risk for having or developing diabetes then are offered an at-home test kit that allows them to collect their own blood sample and return it to Hooper Holmes’ Heritage Labs. Heritage Labs then completes a Hemoglobin A1c test, which the American Diabetes Association now recommends as the screening test for diabetes, and returns the results electronically to the secure Diabetes Know Now! account established by the user.

To commemorate the launch, Hooper Holmes made Diabetes Know Now! available to its employees in line with Diabetes Alert Day.

“Prior to Diabetes Know Now! there was not an effective and efficient way to target diabetes screenings,” said Chris Behling, president of Hooper Holmes health and wellness. “Now, instead of having to complete blood tests on an entire population, we can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our customers’ programs, by only needing to complete blood testing on a targeted group who are at the highest risk for having or developing diabetes.”

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Biogen Idec names billionaire as board member

BY Alaric DeArment

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. Biogen Idec appointed a nominee of billionaire investor Carl Icahn to its board Monday, the Swiss drug maker announced.

Biogen Idec appointed Icahn Partners nominee Eric Rowinsky and Stephen Sherwin, selected by the company as part of its effort to find new directors, to its board of directors.

On the same day, Bloomberg quoted Icahn as saying that he would like to see Biogen Idec sold to a larger drug maker, on account of its pipeline, and also split into two business units, one for neurology and one for cancer.

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