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Karl Rove, Robert Gibbs to serve as keynote speakers at 2012 Armada Specialty Pharmacy Summit

BY Allison Cerra

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Armada Health Care announced that its annual Armada Specialty Pharmacy Summit will feature Karl Rove and Robert Gibbs as keynote speakers.

Slated to speak at the conference’s general session, Rove and Gibbs will participate in a moderated discussion on such topics as current U.S. healthcare legislation, the economy and the 2012 presidential election.

Rove — who served as senior adviser to President George W. Bush from 2000 to 2007, as well as and deputy chief of staff from 2004 to 2007 — and Gibbs — who has been an adviser and strategist to President Barack Obama from the early days of Obama’s 2004 Senate race to his sweep to the White House — "promise to bring interesting insight and energy that will transform the conference by giving the attendees a dual perspective of these issues," Armada said.

The 2012 Armada Specialty Pharmacy Summit will be held from May 1 to 4, 2012, at the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas.


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NCPA addresses CMS around AMP impact on community pharmacy

BY Michael Johnsen

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The National Community Pharmacists Association on Wednesday offered federal Medicaid officials a number of suggestions to address methodology that, if left in place, would result in what the NCPA couched as "potentially devastating cuts" in Medicaid pharmacy reimbursement for a wide range of common, generic prescription drugs.

In a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, NCPA detailed a number of issues with the average manufacturer price data on which CMS is relying to calculate new caps on Medicaid pharmacy reimbursement, known as federal upper limits, for multiple source, generic prescription drugs.

“Independent community pharmacies are the backbone of the Medicaid drug benefit,” stated NCPA CEO Douglas Hoey. “These small-business pharmacists are often located in underserved rural and inner-city locations and care for twice as many Medicaid patients compared to national chain pharmacies," he said. “However, the newly proposed limits published by federal Medicaid officials would reimburse independent community pharmacies at rates that are below even the pharmacy’s acquisition costs for hundreds of products.”

In the letter, NCPA explains the following concerns and recommendations:

  • The AMP data on which CMS is relying does not accurately reflect acquisition costs for community pharmacies. Even at the reimbursement baseline established in the ACA, or Affordable Care Act (175% of the weighted average AMP), there are hundreds of products on CMS’ proposed list with FULs that are below an independent community pharmacy’s acquisition costs;

  • Inconsistency among drug manufacturer practices may contribute to the below-market FULs. The lack of guidance from CMS to manufacturers in terms of fully defining AMP has resulted in widely varying manufacturer practices in calculating AMP values. This, in turn, may contribute to the inadequate FULs proposed by CMS. Consequently, the new AMP regulation should be finalized before any AMP values are used to set FULs;

  • Insufficient manufacturer data. The FULs are based on one month’s AMP data, without regard to the statutorily required “smoothing process” to help avoid wild fluctuations that could occur from month to month;

  • CMS should recognize independent community pharmacies’ higher drug acquisition costs. Despite aggressive efforts to negotiate lower prices, community pharmacies’ acquisition costs are often 25% to 50% percent higher than those of publicly held chain pharmacies. The ACA granted CMS the flexibility and authority to set the FULs at a higher rate to account for that difference and to help preserve patient access in underserved rural and inner-city communities; and

  • CMS should fully resolve these and other issues before publishing its final, revised FULs. The publication by CMS of below-market reimbursement caps, such as those initially proposed, could result in additional health plans adopting a flawed reimbursement standard and further reducing the ability of independent community pharmacies to continue serving patients.

“The best way to lower health costs associated with prescription drugs is through the appropriate use of generic drugs and greater adherence, which helps prevent complications," Hoey added. “Medicaid patients rely on clinically trained pharmacists for counseling, which could be jeopardized if CMS doesn’t ultimately arrive at a more practical approach.”


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Friskies, Pet Acoustics develop cat tracks

BY Allison Cerra

ST. LOUIS — A cat food brand has partnered with a company that develops music specifically for pets.

Friskies and Pet Acoustics said they will create six musical tracks that inspire cats to play. Two of the tracks, Friskies Paws for Treats and Friskies Purrfect Day, feature elements of percussion made by Friskies toys, food and treats, while also including stimulating frequencies that inspire a playful response in cats. As part of the partnership, Friskies will release two new tracks quarterly now through June 2012, which exclusively will be available online at Friskies.com.

"Partnering with Pet Acoustics was a natural fit for Friskies," Friskies assistant brand manager Alison Coburn said. "We’re always looking for unique ways to enhance cat play. Friskies recently created tablet games and phone apps for cats; and now we’re adding music. It’s one more way Friskies can help encourage people to try new and easy things to enhance their cats’ playtime."

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