PHARMACY

Congressional report estimates CMS changes would cost states $50 billion in federal aid

BY Drew Buono

WASHINGTON According to a congressional report prepared by the Democratic staff on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, proposed changes to Medicaid would cost states about $50 billion in federal aid over the next five years, the Associated Press reported.

“As the economy tips into recession, the last thing we should be doing is taking federal funds from states, especially funds that are supposed to help people with their health and medical expenses,” said committee chairman, Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif.

Federal officials, though, are arguing that the changes are designed to ensure that providers don’t bill the program for more than costs of providing care and also say that the states pay their fare share of the program.

Tthe proposed new rules include limiting Medicaid public hostpital reimbursement to no more than the cost of providing a particular service. Another would prohibit billing Medicaid for the costs of medical interns and residents.

Overall, the federal government will spend more than $1.2 trillion on Medicaid over the next five years. The administration projects that if all the changes it seeks were enacted, the federal government would save about $13 billion over those five years.

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Rx program more expensive than chain store prescriptions

BY Diana Alickaj

DENVER Rx Outreach, a Colorado program aimed at helping low-income people afford drugs for chronic diseases, was found to be more expensive for purchasing drugs than regular chain-store pharmacies.

A 90-day supply from a choice of 110 generics costs about $20 each, and three-dozen other drugs sell for $30 and $40. In contrast, Kmart’s program for a choice of 300 generic medications for a 90-day supply retails for $15, while Costco sells their prescriptions for about $10.66 and Walgreens sells them for about $12.99.

The program, Colorado Cares Rx, was unveiled this month by the Department of Health Care Policy and financing in partnership with Rx Outreach. The program was started by the state to develop a low-cost drug program, but the sponsors are finding it harder to compete with chain store rivals, based on pricing.

Officials claim growing pains, however. Rep. Alice Madden, D-Boulder, said “This is just a first step. We have to do more.”

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FDA approves Abilify for teens

BY Drew Buono

TOKYO and PRINCETON, N.J. The Food and Drug Administration has approved the Otsuka Pharmaceuticals and Bristol-Myers Squibb drug application for Abilify for the acute treatment of manic and mixed episodes associated with bipolar I disorder, with or without psychotic features in pediatric patients aged 10 to 17.

The approval is based on the results of a four-week study that compared Abilify to a placebo in treating pediatric patients with bipolar disorder I. Otsuka Pharmaceuticals sponsored the study.

“We are pleased that the FDA has approved Abilify to treat pediatric patients aged 10 to 17 years suffering from Bipolar I Disorder,” said Taro Iwamoto, Ph.D., chief executive officer, president and chief operating officer, Otsuka Pharmaceutical development and c commercialization. “The approval of this new indication for ABILIFY provides clinicians with expanded treatment options that can help address the therapeutic needs of this population.” 

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