PHARMACY

Blue Cross to waive copayments for chronic conditions

BY Drew Buono

PHILADELPHIA Independence Blue Cross has announced that it will waive copays for 75 generic medications used to treat chronic conditions, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The program, called Rx for Better Health, will be in effect from July 1 through Dec. 31 for IBC and AmeriHealth of Pennsylvania subscribers. It will not apply to people who have Medicare Part D, Medicare discount cards, and members of the Federal Employees Health Benefits program and AmeriHealth of New Jersey or Delaware.

The new initiative is a follow-up to last year’s broader No Pay Copay program, which waived $50 million worth of co-pays for all generics. The company credits that program, which stopped at the end of 2007, with increasing generic use from 47 percent to 62 percent of prescriptions filled.

The new program applies to more than 200,000 subscribers with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, depression, acid reflux, heart failure and heart disease.

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PHARMACY

California information-sharing bill struck down by Assembly

BY Drew Buono

LOS ANGELES A California bill aimed at sharing people’s prescription medication information with mass mailers did not receive a single vote of support in the Assembly Health Committee after being approved by the Senate on May 29, according to the Los Angeles Times. The bill, SB 1096, was written by Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, who will most likely not reintroduce it, even though he reserved the right to do so.

In presenting the legislation Tuesday, Calderon described it as a boon to consumers, especially those with chronic medical conditions. He said it would allow drugstores to send letters to people reminding them to take their medication or refill a prescription.

The problem with the bill, besides the fact that the patients did not want their prescription medical history shared with someone other than their doctor, is that the bill did not state who would be paying for the reminder letters and which patients would receive them.

According to the Times, it appeared that pharmaceutical companies were behind the funding in an effort to bring in more money on their respective medicines. Also, another provision stated that people who wanted to not be on the mailers would have to opt-out of the program, instead of opting into the program by stating that they would be okay with their information shared.

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CCPA: track-and-trace mandate could cost pharmacies $110,000 per store

BY Alaric DeArment

ALEXANDRIA, Va. Implementing a track-and-trace system would cost drug store chains $84,000 to $110,000 or more per store in the first year, according to a study that examined the safety of the prescription drug supply chain and the potential effects of a federally mandated system.

The study, released by the Coalition of Community Pharmacy Action, examined the safety of the prescription drug supply chain and the potential effects of a federally mandated track-and-trace system. It also found that existing security measures since 2005, including changes in state laws and steps the chains themselves have taken, have already cut the risk of counterfeit drugs entering the supply chain. The study found no cases of counterfeit drugs in the normal distribution channels since 2005, and most of the problems were from Web sites distributing drugs illegally.

The cost estimate was based on costs of computer hardware software, infrastructure, labor and other resources.

The CCPA is comprised of the National Community Pharmacists Association and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.

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