PHARMACY

Conn. AG sues McKesson over alleged pricing inflation

BY Drew Buono

HARTFORD, Conn. Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Boston against McKesson, alleging the company illegally raised wholesale costs for hundreds of brand-name drugs, according to the Associated Press.

The lawsuit contends that McKesson arbitrarily increased the difference between what pharmacies pay wholesalers for prescription drugs and what they charge health plans and insurers. Pharmacies typically buy drugs from wholesalers at a price based on a benchmark called the wholesale acquisition cost, but charge consumers, insurance companies and health plans based on the average wholesale price.

Blumenthal said the greater the difference between the average wholesale price and the wholesale acquisition cost, the greater the profit potential for pharmaceutical benefit managers and other middlemen.

The lawsuit alleges that McKesson and price publishers like First DataBank, who Blumenthal believes McKesson conspired with to raise, fix and maintain average wholesale prices for 400 brand-name drugs at 25 percent more than the wholesale acquisition costs, when those prices had previously been marked up 20 percent.

Blumenthal said that because state and federal agencies base their reimbursement rates on average wholesale prices, doctors, pharmacies and other health care providers could increase their profits by prescribing or dispensing medications from McKesson. This then led to McKesson increasing its stake in the market share.

McKesson has stated that it has not yet reviewed the lawsuit.

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PHARMACY

Bystolic fulfills pharmacists’ desire for a new beta-blocker

BY Drew Buono

NEW YORK Forest Laboratories and Mylan’s new, once-daily hypertension drug Bystolic now is available in pharmacies nationwide.

A recent survey showed that out of 20,000 retail pharmacists, 78 percent felt there was a need for a beta-blocker with an improved tolerability profile.

More than 2,000 people received Bystolic (nebivolol) during clinical trials. The drug’s efficacy was similar to that of other approved beta-blockers, the FDA said. The most common reported side effects were headache, fatigue, dizziness and diarrhea.

Hypertension affects about 72 million adults in America.

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PHARMACY

Tenn. pharmacy school receives $600,000 grant

BY Drew Buono

NASHVILLE, Tenn. Lipscomb University has received a $600,000 grant from The Memorial Foundation to support the school’s new $10.1 million pharmacy school, which will receive its first class in August, according to published reports. The Lipscomb College of Pharmacy has accepted 75 students in its first class.

The money will be used to build three patient support laboratories where students will learn to compound and prepare drugs, carry out experiments and examine and assess patients.

The school will be located in the Burton Health Sciences Center. In honor of the foundation’s grant the labs will be named The Memorial Foundation Pharmacy Practice Center.

“We believe it is a good investment for the community and for those students who want to prepare for a career in pharmacy,” said J.D. Elliott, president of The Memorial Foundation.

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