PHARMACY

Money alotted to keep talent in Michigan after Pfizer closings

BY Allison Cerra

KALAMAZOO, Mich. A multi-million dollar state program was allotted to 22 life-sciences companies in order to retain Pfizer’s assets and talent that were once present in state of Michigan.

Kalamazoo-area companies were granted a total of $5.05 million, and are expected to create 71 new jobs in the area, according to a press release from the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

Low-interest loans of between $50,000 and $400,000 went to the companies following approval by the Michigan Strategic Fund board. $500,000 also goes to two of Michigan’s economic development groups, Southwest Michigan First in Kalamazoo and Ann Arbor SPARK, in order to augment the Michigan Innovation Equipment Depot, which was developed last year to distribute equipment donated by Pfizer to state companies.

“This new resource will provide new opportunities for Pfizer employees and spark entrepreneurial activity and job creation,” Gov. Jennifer Granholm said.

The Michigan Strategic Fund board created the account in June to help communities recover from closure of Pfizer facilities in Holland, Kalamazoo and Portage, as well as in Ann Arbor and Plymouth Township. Pfizer announced in January plans to cut 2,410 jobs in Michigan by the end of 2008, with 2,100 of those from Ann Arbor, where Pfizer currently has a 2.3 million-square-foot facility.

“This is part of a concerted effort to ensure Pfizer scientists continue working and living in Michigan and reapply their knowledge and expertise to help grow great new Michigan life sciences companies,” MEDC President and chief executive officer James Epolito said.

The MSF in June also awarded $3.4 million from the 21st Century Jobs Fund to turn a former Pfizer research lab in Holland into a bio-economy research and commercialization center.

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NACDS Foundation dinner raises $2.2 million

BY Adam Kraemer

ALEXANDRIA, Va. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores this week held its Ninth Annual Foundation Dinner in New York City. This year’s fundraising event far surpassed previous records, increasing for the third consecutive year, raising $2.2 million for the NACDS Foundation.

The mission of the NACDS Foundation, the organization reported, is “to enhance support of pharmacy education, student scholarships, research and training that advance community pharmacy’s public service, and charitable organizations.”

Emmy award winner Tim Russert addressed the attendees, sharing his thoughts gained from a remarkable career, from being managing editor and moderator of Meet the Press as well as, political analyst for NBC Nightly News to serving as as senior vice president and Washington bureau chief of NBC News.

Donations raised from the dinner help advance the role of community pharmacy in numerous ways, including major research projects, pharmacy student scholarships, and charity work. Over the years, the NACDS Foundation has provided nearly $2 million in support to pharmacy education to help ensure the future of a strong and vibrant industry. And in the last year alone, it provided nearly $1 million in grants to charitable organizations that positively impact the lives of patients and the communities the chain drug industry serves.

“We could not be more thrilled or more grateful at the extensive generosity set forth by our benefactors,” said Phil Schneider, NACDS Foundation president. ”The contributions raised will enable the NACDS Foundation to continue, and even increase its work to advance community pharmacy.”

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Kentucky pharmacists call on Sen. McConnell to fast-track Medicaid bill before holiday

BY Adam Kraemer

FRANKFORT, Ky. Kentucky community pharmacy owners held a press conference today at Capital Pharmacy and Medical Equipment urging Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to help ensure S.1951, the Fair Medicaid Drug Payment Act of 2007, is brought to the Senate floor for a vote before it adjourns this year.

The bill is intended to fix the Medicaid generic prescription drug pharmacy reimbursement cuts called for by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services that are scheduled to take effect early next year. Pharmacy advocates claim that the CMS cuts threaten the economic viability of community pharmacy, as well as patient access to pharmacy services.

“Community pharmacy owners like myself are being put in a terrible bind because of the coming cuts to Medicaid reimbursement,” said Mac Bray, owner of Capital Pharmacy and Medical Equipment. “My options will be to either turn my back on my Medicaid patients by limiting or dropping my services, or suffer huge financial losses by continuing to participate in the Medicaid program. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell can spare myself and other pharmacists from making that Hobson’s Choice by pushing for the Senate to pass S. 1951 before they go home for the Holidays.”

“Who can stay in business at 36 percent below cost?” said Brad Hall, executive director of the Kentucky Pharmacists Association. “The federal government’s AMP [average manufacturers price] formula does not properly measure retail acquisition costs for community pharmacies like Capital Pharmacy and Medical Equipment here in Frankfort. The real world consequences of this disastrous federal policy will be felt most profoundly by patients, who will see their access to prescription drugs and the valued expertise of their trusted local pharmacists undermined. When that happens these patients will be forced to more expensive options such as visiting emergency rooms. This can all be avoided if Congress acts before the rule is fully implemented on Jan. 30, 2008.”

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