PHARMACY

GPhA supports Georgia interchangeable biologics bill

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — The Generic Pharmaceutical Association on Tuesday announced its support of Georgia SB 370, introduced by pharmacist and Sen. Buddy Carter, R-Ga. District 1,  because it will allow unimpeded patient access to interchangeable biologics. The bill mirrors current pharmacy practice for interchangeable generic substitution language, and is aligned with Food and Drug Administration definitions, the association noted.

“While there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ model for states, one can look to the law enacted in Florida, and now, the bill under discussion in Georgia,” stated Ralph Neas, president and CEO of GPhA. “GPhA applauds efforts in Georgia to foster timely access to interchangeable biologics. This bill takes appropriate steps to limit roadblocks to these medicines and avoids unneeded mandates for notifying physicians that extend beyond current practice. The proposed bill in Georgia preserves the intent of the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act — an approach backed by science and precedent," he said. 

“As the promise of biosimilars becomes reality in the U.S., state legislatures are a key piece of the regulatory roadmap. At the same time, FDA guidance and international naming conventions must align so that the safety and efficacy of these medicines is not undermined and patient access remains timely."

 

 

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PBMI’s Specialty Drug Benefit Report benchmarks specialty pharmacy trends

BY Michael Johnsen

PLANO, Texas — The Pharmacy Benefit Management Institute recently released its Specialty Drug Benefit Report, sponsored by Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy. The 2014 edition highlights trends important to specialty pharmacy, including emerging cost-control strategies and challenges affecting benefit design and patient care. 

"I was struck by the results on employer perceptions of pharmacy outlets for specialty drugs," noted Adam Fein, president Pembroke Consulting, in a Drug Channels blog on the release. "Employers think specialty pharmacies provide better pharmacist access and lower costs. However, they also think retail pharmacies are comparable for clinical services — and that surprised me."

Retail drug stores are also seen as better at providing access to copayment programs, Fein noted. 

The report is based on survey respondents from 337 U.S. employers, representing more than 14.3 million lives. For the first time, the survey asked questions specifically about medical and pharmacy benefits, including key opportunities and challenges facing specialty pharmacy management. This is important because it reflects rapidly changing site-of-care dynamics and will better enable PBMI to assess and report on future trends.

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NCPA applauds proposed legislation to reform pharmacy audits

BY Antoinette Alexander

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Two Florida lawmakers have introduced legislation in the Florida State Senate and Florida House of Representatives, respectively, that aims to apply standards to pharmacy audits and rein in practices that could negatively impact patient care, small business community pharmacies and state revenue. The legislation has received a nod of approval from the National Community Pharmacists Association.

State Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Jacksonville, has introduced SB 702 and State Rep. Travis Cummings, R-Orange Park, has introduced the Pharmacy Audit Bill of Rights (HB 745).

“With SB 702, there can be clear guidelines of acceptable audit practices of our pharmacies,” Bean said. “I am hopeful these guidelines will result in better health care for all Floridians.”

“I feel it is important that Florida remains a state that champions small business rights by removing unnecessary burdens that could otherwise jeopardize their future and those that use their service,” Cummings said. “The auditing process can be very burdensome and arduous on pharmacies, especially small independent pharmacies. The bill establishes the ‘rules of engagement’ for the auditing process because right now there are none. HB 745 will establish fairness while still maintaining a high standard of service for the consumer, and I look forward to working to pass this much needed legislation in the State of Florida.”

“It should not be a punishable offense when a pharmacist dispenses the right medication as prescribed to the right patient at the right time and for the agreed-upon reimbursement,” stated NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey. “Yet across the Sunshine State, pharmacists are struggling with egregious audits focused on hyper-technical clerical issues. These time-consuming reviews limit pharmacists’ ability to care for patients. In addition, auditors seek any excuse, no matter how small, to take thousands of dollars away from pharmacies and local communities and send them out-of-state to Fortune 500 pharmaceutical middlemen.”

“This legislation will allow reasonable pharmacy audits to continue in order to guard against waste, fraud and abuse,” Hoey said. “NCPA is proud to support the work of the Florida Pharmacy Association, PPSC and all Florida pharmacists in this effort. We commend Senator Bean and Representative Cummings for their leadership and encourage their colleagues to support this legislation.”

Rather than using the audit process to guard and protect against fraud, many PBMs view audits as a profitable revenue stream for their company, the NCPA stated. Community pharmacies are often forced to pay thousands of dollars as the result of an audit for nothing more than basic clerical or typographical mistakes, many of which are not the fault of the pharmacist or pharmacy staff. Twenty-nine other states have recently enacted bipartisan legislation similar to the Florida proposals.

Florida is home to more than 445 independent community pharmacies that employ approximately 4,405 residents.

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