PHARMACY

Harmison says PBM transparency reform will continue

BY Allison Cerra

ALEXANDRIA, Va. The president of a group representing the nation’s independent pharmacies responded to a court ruling that will keep certain pharmacy benefit manager transparency requirements intact while other provisions are overturned.

Joseph Harmison, president of the National Community Pharmacists Association, said the ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia — which found the law that intended to regulate pharmacy benefit managers was forestalled by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act — was “unfortunate.” The law gives PBMs fiduciary status, requires them to disclose conflicts of interest and drug substitutions, and requires them to pass along any rebates to clients.

“It’s unfortunate that this court did not require PBMs to assume a fiduciary duty relative to their benefit plan clients,” Harmison said. “Millions of Americans already benefit from the fiduciary duty that their financial planners must meet to recommend the best investment options rather than those that pay the adviser the most. The vigor with which the major PBMs oppose this requirement suggests that the interests of traditional PBMs and of employers and other health plan sponsors are often misaligned.”

Harmison did add, however, note that pending PBM transparency reform legislation will not be hindered by the court’s ruling, stating that certain PBMs “reaping record profits… finally [will] be accountable to employers, taxpayers and patients.”

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Former CVS Caremark chairman announces healthcare venture with WL Ross

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK Former CVS Caremark chairman Edwin “Mac” Crawford has joined forces with WL Ross CEO Wilbur Ross, to co-invest in and restructure healthcare companies.

Crawford said, “My team and I are excited to join forces with such a distinguished private equity firm at this pivotal time for the healthcare industry.  The pending structural changes to the industry will create new winners and losers, and I am eager to play a major role in adapting to this challenging environment.”

Crawford was named chairman of the board at CVS Caremark after the two entities merged in 2006. In his roll at Caremark, Crawford lead one of the nation’s leading pharmaceutical services companies, which shifted its services’ focus to the consumer during his reign, thus “[addressing] the needs of both payers and consumers by providing high-quality, cost-effective services in a manner that is convenient, flexible and easy for the consumer to navigate and understand,” he said at the time.

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FDA: Qualaquin has serious side effects

BY Alaric DeArment

SILVER SPRING, Md. Unapproved use of a drug used to treat malaria can cause serious side effects, prompting the drug’s manufacturer to develop a risk management plan, the Food and Drug Administration said.

The FDA said that use of Philadelphia-based AR Scientific’s drug Qualaquin (quinine sulfate) to treat nighttime leg cramps had caused serious and life-threatening bad reactions in 24 patients, including permanent kidney damage and two deaths, as well as reduction in blood platelet levels and internal blood clots.

The reports have prompted AR Scientific to develop a risk evaluation and mitigation strategy, or REMS, requiring that patients receiving Qualaquin be given a medication guide explaining how to use the drug and potential side effects.

“Healthcare professionals and patients should be aware that FDA has not approved the use of Qualaquin for the treatment or prevention of nighttime leg cramps,” FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research Office of Antimicrobial Products director Edward Cox said. “FDA has received reports that some patients have developed serious side effects when taking quinine for nighttime leg cramps.”

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