PHARMACY

Independent pharmacy lobbyists renew call for health-reform relief

BY Jim Frederick

ALEXANDRIA, Va. Weighing once again into the health-reform fray on Capitol Hill, the National Community Pharmacists Association Wednesday reiterated a long-standing plea to Congress for relief as the U.S. Senate and House work to craft a compromise on the health-reform bill to send to the White House.

The appeal came in a letter, sent by NCPA EVP and CEO Bruce Roberts, to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. Among NCPA’s top priorities: a reasonable minimum payment system for Medicaid prescriptions, new curbs on pharmacy benefit managers and a pass on new Medicare restrictions governing the sale of durable medical equipment and diabetic supplies.

The independent pharmacy lobby is asking the House and Senate leadership to include those elements in a final version of health-reform legislation. Although Congress has yet to reconvene later this month, Pelosi and Reid have maintained a high-profile effort to reconcile the reform bills passed late last year by both houses of Congress.

“Community pharmacists are ready and willing to help improve health outcomes and lower costs,” said Roberts. “We greatly appreciate the bipartisan backing in both chambers for reforms that support community pharmacists.

“The recommendations we present here will make a good thing even better for patients,” he asserted in his appeal to both leaders. “We will continue working with Congress in hopes of enacting these proposals.”

Among NCPA’s specific requests:

  • A reform of Medicaid’s Average Manufacturer Price (AMP) reimbursement system for generic drugs, and the adoption by Medicaid of the Senate’s proposal for a federal upper limit of no less than 175% of the weighted average AMP. “Anything less could force many independent community pharmacies, which care for an extraordinarily high number of Medicaid patients, out of the program,” noted the group.
  • The adoption of both House-passed transparency provisions for pharmacy benefit managers operating in the proposed health insurance exchange, and Senate language extending the reporting requirements to Medicare Part D drug plans;
  • Inclusion of the Senate’s proposal to exempt retail pharmacies from Medicare’s “burdensome, duplicative accreditation requirements” for the sale of durable medical equipment and supplies, including diabetes testing kits.

Roberts also urged Congress to “support all House- and Senate-passed provisions expanding the community pharmacist’s ability to provide medication therapy management services,” according to today’s letter. Pharmacist-administered MTM, he noted, would help “maximize the patient’s adherence and therapeutic benefit while lowering the cost of inappropriate prescription drug use — estimated at $290 billion annually.”

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PHARMACY

Report: Cipla in generic drug supply talks with GSK, Teva

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK An India drug maker is in generic drug supply talks with two companies, according to reports.

Cipla said it is in talks with GlaxoSmithKline and Teva to supply the companies with generic drugs.

“It may be specifically for one or two products — it is not a down-the-line drug deal,” Cipla chairman Yusuf Hamied told Reuters.

Cipla is one of the world’s biggest producers of low-cost antiretroviral drugs to fight HIV and AIDS. Last month, the company announced the launch of a generic H1N1 treatment.

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Taro elects directors in shareholders meeting; Sun disapproves

BY Allison Cerra

HAWTHORNE, N.Y. An Israeli drug maker said that its shareholders voted to elect all of the directors who were up for election, with the exception of the statutory external directors, at its annual shareholders meeting held Dec. 31.

The shareholders also approved the ratification of indemnification for non-executive directors and the appointment of the Taro’s independent auditors.

The company said that it stands behind its nominees for statutory external directors and their qualifications, and further stated that it would continue its efforts to elect statutory external directors as required by Israeli law, despite the efforts of Sun Pharmaceutical Industries to block their election. Sun has claimed that Barrie Levitt, Taro’s chairman, signed contractual obligation to sell Taro’s shares to Sun at a pre-defined price in June 2008. Sun said, however, that Levitt and the company “have prevented the close of this transaction through improper use of Taro resources.”

Sun has sought to acquire Taro for some time. In August 2008, Sun’s tender offer to acquire the company expired, but said that it would once again seek to acquire Taro. In late September, Taro sued Sun in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, alleging that Sun failed to disclose information to Taro shareholders, and misappropriating confidential information about Taro as part of its efforts to acquire the company – which it has sought to do since June 2008 – and illegally using it to undermine Taro’s relationships with customers and revenues.

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