PHARMACY

Colo. Gov. vetoes reimbursement bill

BY Drew Buono

DENVER Yesterday, according to published reports, Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter vetoed a bill that was intended to provide financial relief to pharmacists facing cuts in Medicaid dispensing and reimbursements.

The bill, House Bill 1032, would have increased the state’s reimbursements for generic drugs to the highest federal standards allowed under the Medicaid program to offset the cuts.

Small, independent pharmacists lobbied for the bill, saying pending cuts resulting from the federal Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 would slash Medicaid reimbursements to Colorado pharmacists by as much as 36 percent—potentially forcing some pharmacies who rely on Medicaid recipients out of business. The cuts in Medicaid reimbursements could cost Colorado pharmacies as much as $13.7 million in reimbursements, according to one estimate.

But Ritter wrote in a message the legislation was “premature, unnecessary and restrictive” because the cuts are now facing a court challenge and haven’t yet gone into effect. “Until there is clear direction from the federal government on this matter, it is premature to seek a state solution,” Ritter wrote.

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FDA issues third approvable letter for Wyeth’s bazedoxifene

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON Wyeth Pharmaceuticals’ new drug for treating postmenopausal osteoporosis has hit another speed bump.

The Food and Drug Administration sent a third approvable letter to Wyeth for the drug bazedoxifene pending analyses about the incidence of stroke and venal thrombosis in patients who use it. The FDA made a similar request in a letter sent in December.

Merck reported that its postmenopausal osteoporosis drug Fosamax (alendronate sodium) had worldwide sales of $3.05 billion in 2007.

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Longs plans drive-through windows at Hawaiian locations

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK Longs Drug Stores plans to open drive-through windows at some of its stores in Hawaii, the company announced recently.

The drugstore chain, based in Walnut Creek, Calif., will add a drive-through window to its store in Maui later this year. The new store it plans to open in Honolulu will also have a window.

Walgreens, which recently opened its first locations in Hawaii, credits itself with inventing the concept of the drugstore with a drive-through pharmacy more than 15 years ago.

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