PHARMACY

Legislation to expose PBM rebates filed in Senate

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., along with Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., on Wednesday introduced legislation that would, for the first time, require Pharmacy Benefit Managers in Medicare to disclose their aggregate rebates provided by drug manufacturers, as well as the amount of those rebates that are passed on to health plans, therefore lowering prices for people who need prescription drugs.

“Today is the first step of an effort to lift the veil of secrecy about prescription drug prices,” Wyden said.  “This bill will shine a light on this opaque industry and promote competition to bring down the cost of prescription drugs.”

That level of transparency would disrupt the marketplace, the association representing pharmacy benefit managers countered.

"PBMs support the right kind of transparency that offers consumers and plan sponsors the information they need to make the choices that are right for them," the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association stated in a release issued Wednesday. "However, this bill will increase premiums by undermining the tools employers, unions, and public programs including Medicare, use to reduce prescription drug costs.

PBMs typically reduce prescription drug costs by 30% by using their scale and expertise to negotiate discounts from competing drug companies and drugstores, PCMA noted.

"NCPA agrees with Senator Wyden's goal for more transparency from pharmacy benefit managers," stated Douglas Hoey, CEO for the National Community Pharmacists Association. "There's mounting evidence that PBM profits grow in lock step with — and contribute to — rising prescription drug costs. A big part of that problem is the manufacturer rebate revenue retained by PBMs, which is this intended focus of this legislation."

The bill, the Creating Transparency to Have Drug Rebates Unlocked (C-THRU) Act, would take several steps to improve transparency, Wyden noted. It would require PBMs to disclose the aggregate amount of rebates they receive from pharmaceutical companies and what proportion of those rebates go to Americans in Medicare.

However, the C-THRU Act would grant the kind of transparency that the Federal Trade Commission and economists say will raise costs by giving drug companies and drug stores unprecedented pricing power that could help them tacitly collude with their competitors, PCMA argued.

 

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PHARMACY

Alembic debuts Sporanox generic

BY Brian Berk

BRIDGEWATER, N.J. — Alembic Pharmaceuticals launched its generic of Sporanox (itraconazole) capsules. The drug is an antifungal used to treat certain fungal or yeast infections.

Alembic will offer the drug in a 100-mg dosage strength. This marks Alembic’s 28th product launch in the United States since its commencement of U.S. operations. 

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Rite Aid responds to increase in mumps cases

BY DSN STAFF

 CAMP HILL, Pa. — As the number of mumps cases increase across the country, Rite Aid pharmacists stand ready to administer the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine, subject to state regulations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported more than 1,000 cases of mumps in the U.S. since the start of 2017.

MMR vaccinations are available upon request at Rite Aid pharmacies in 28 states and the District of Columbia, subject to state regulations, during pharmacy hours. No appointment is necessary.

Although young children typically receive the MMR vaccine from their primary health care providers as part of a regular vaccine schedule, the CDC recommends that people 18 years of age or older who were born after 1956 should get at least one dose of MMR vaccine unless they have either been vaccinated previously or have had all three diseases.

Pregnant women should not receive an MMR vaccine.

According to the CDC, mumps is a contagious disease caused by a virus. Mumps symptoms begin with a fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness and loss of appetite, followed by swelling of salivary glands, causing puffy cheeks and a tender, swollen jaw.

In addition to the MMR vaccine, Rite Aid certified immunizing pharmacists are able to vaccinate patients against more than a dozen diseases based on the CDC's vaccine guidelines and state regulations. By visiting Rite Aid's Vaccine Central customers can complete an immunization evaluation, track their personal immunization history and find other educational resources on immunizations.

 

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