PHARMACY

CPhA weighs in on new development in California Medi-Cal lawsuit

BY Alaric DeArment

SACRAMENTO, Calif. A lawsuit that eight California pharmacies filed to prevent the state from slashing pharmacy reimbursements offered through its Medi-Cal program has been moved to a federal court, the California Pharmacists Association announced Friday.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s administration delayed a hearing on a temporary restraining order the pharmacies had filed to prevent the Department of Health Care Services from reducing reimbursements to pharmacies for drugs dispensed to Medi-Cal beneficiaries by 10 percent. The pharmacies filed an action in a California state court on June 9, but DHCS Director Sandra Shewry successfully petitioned to have the lawsuit moved to federal court.

The eight pharmacies argued that the cuts would be harmful to the Medi-Cal program and the 6.5 million people who rely on it.

“We are sorely disappointed with what appears purely to be a delay tactic by the State and believe DHCS had no basis for the removal,” said Lynn Rolston, chief executive officer of the CPhA. “It seems the State is afraid to have these issues heard by California courts. We believe the pharmacies that filed this action will seek an immediate remand to state court for a hearing on the merits. There are two other lawsuits pending in federal court as a result of similar action by DHCS. We are confident that all of these cases present strong legal arguments for stopping these draconian 10 percent provider cuts.” 

The pharmacies involved are Farmacia Remedios, Ross Valley Pharmacy, South Sacramento Pharmacy, Horton and Converse Pharmacies, Zweber Apothecary, Komoto Pharmacy and Medical Pharmacy, Pucci’s Leader Pharmacy and Gregg’s Pharmacy.

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ShopKo to open in-store clinics in Wisconsin

BY Antoinette Alexander

MADISON, Wis. Meriter, a provider of healthcare services, has teamed up with ShopKo to open two FastCare clinics in Madison in mid-October.

Meriter’s clinics, which will be located in ShopKo East and ShopKo West, will be staffed by nurse practitioners who can offer treatment for such acute ailments as pink eye, bladder infections and skin rashes. The n.p. can write a prescription, if needed.

“We’re very pleased to provide this service to residents, as well as visitors, to our community,” stated Geoff Priest, Meriter chief medical officer. “Providing quality health care that is convenient, both in hours and location, is very important to us at Meriter.”

Green Bay, Wis.-based Bellin Hospital, in partnership with ShopKo, started the FastCare concept. Since then, they have negotiated partnerships with other health care systems, including ThedaCare in Appleton, Aspirus in Wausau and Olmstead in Rochester, Minn. Others underway include Beaver Dam and one in Waukesha.

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Alnylam inks potential $93 million deal with Kyowa Hakko Kogyo

BY Drew Buono

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. Alnylam Pharmaceuticals has signed a collaborative deal with Kyowa Hakko Kogyo, that could be worth as much as $93 million, to develop and market the experimental respiratory drug ALN-RSV01, according to the Associated Press.

ALN-RSV01 is currently in midstage development for respiratory syncytial virus, which can cause severe lower respiratory infections, particularly in infants. Most of Alynlam’s pipeline, though, is still in the preclinical phase of development, with potential candidates for liver cancer, Huntington’s disease, pandemic flu, and cystic fibrosis, among others.

This is the company’s second recent deal. At the end of May, Alnylam signed a research partnership deal with Takeda Pharmaceuticals worth as much as $1 billion.

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