PHARMACY

NACDS chief calls industry to action

BY Jim Frederick

PALM BEACH, Fla.

As the election season and rising healthcare costs spawn a furious national debate on the future of the U.S. healthcare system, retail pharmacy leaders must join that debate with a massive and coordinated message about the role and value of retail pharmacy, NACDS president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson asserts.

In an exclusive videotaped interview with Drug Store News, an interview which can be viewed in its entirety at www.drugstorenews.com by clicking on the “NEW Math” clip, Anderson talks in detail about the conditions that led to community pharmacy’s current second-tier status in the pantheon of healthcare professions—and the steps the industry must take to boost its standing.

Elaborating on comments he made to NACDS members at a general session of the organization’s annual meeting here, Anderson traces some of pharmacy’s challenges to a report, sponsored by the American Medical Association and published a century ago. “It actually created the framework for the health care delivery system for the last 100 years,” Anderson tells Drug Store News.

Under that framework, he adds, pharmacy was relegated to the status shared by other alternative health practices like acupuncture, homeopathic medicine, naturopathy and chiropractic. “It was perceived as being non-scientific. And for 100 years, pharmacy has been in that shadow,” Anderson says. “What we’re attempting to do with NACDS now is really to redefine how policymakers view health care.”

Anderson predicts that following the fall elections, the health care debate will reach a crescendo. In the midst of that debate, he says, “We’re doing everything we can to make sure that policymakers understand that pharmacy is a critical part of our health care system.”

Anderson credits the NACDS board of directors for challenging the organization’s staff to “be much more proactive, and to play offense, and not always play defense, which I think NACDS has traditionally done.

“We haven’t had too many wins,” he adds. “We’ve had a lot of activity…with very little results. What we’re attempting to do now is to have real, measured results. We are communicating the value of what this industry does…and we’re being much more proactive on the offense side on our message points.”

That includes a new advertising campaign and efforts to develop “new allies in Washington, so that when we go into these health care debates in the next year, we will have a seat at the table,” Anderson says.

NACDS’ top executive also cites some of the recent victories retail pharmacy has achieved in the public policy arena, including a delay in implementation of new, burdensome Medicaid reimbursement rules that would cost pharmacies millions of dollars. “Our AMP injunction is saving the pharmacy industry $5.5 million every day,” he says. “The two-year delay on the e-pedigree requirement for medications in California is saving our members who do business out there $90 million.”

However, Anderson adds, “We just can’t do it ourselves. We need pharmacy operators to have representatives and senators to go through their stores so they can see what they do to not only improve lives, but to save lives.”

Anderson also discussed the huge impact retail pharmacy has on the U.S. economy, beyond the $750 billion in direct annual sales each year. “What we discovered [is] that for every $1 spent in a retail store that has a pharmacy in it, [that] has a $2.93 impact that ripples throughout the entire economy. So retail with pharmacy is responsible for $2.2 trillion in our nation’s economy, which is more than 16 percent of the gross domestic product.

“My message to opinion leaders and policymakers is, when you’re doing harm to pharmacy, you’re doing harm to the vitality of local communities,” Anderson asserts.

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Chinese companies set to enter generic market

BY Drew Buono

LONDON Chinese drug manufacturing companies are now looking to get into manufacturing generic drugs, according to Reuters. The country is already the world’s biggest producer of active pharmaceutical ingredients and is now aiming at producing finished drug products for sale in the U.S., Europe and other key markets.

IMS Health said last year’s first approval from the Food and Drug Administration for a Chinese generic—a copy of AIDS drug nevirapine—was a sign of things to come. Now, at least 10 other Chinese companies are set to follow suit with other generic products, according to IMS.

The result will be increased competition in a generic drugs industry that is already struggling with tumbling prices. The rise of Chinese generic drugmakers is expected to mirror that of Indian firms like Ranbaxy Laboratories, which also started out as an API supplier but moved into finished generic medicines a decade ago.

The problem, though, according to IMS, is safety issues involving the drugs. The most noticeable problem, the tainted blood thinner heparin that was produced in China and then created a health scare across the globe.

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Pfizer supports transparency initiative by listing Q1 grants

BY Drew Buono

NEW YORK Following in line of such other pharmaceutical companies as Eli Lilly, Pfizer has begun listing its U.S. medical, scientific and patient organization grants and charitable contributions made in the first quarter of 2008, as part of a mission to increase company transparency.

Of a total $9.97 million in grants and charitable contributions reported for the first quarter of 2008, the largest grant, $3,420,318, was made to the California Academy of Family Physicians in March for a three-year national health care professional education campaign to reduce the number of U.S. smokers. This grant was distributed among nine partner organizations across the country.

Other grants include $500,000 to Family Health International for malaria patient education and treatment, and $237,500 to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for its clinical investigator training program with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

“We want to bring greater transparency to the way we partner with leading medical, scientific and patient organizations,” said Jeffrey Kindler, chairman and chief executive officer of Pfizer. “Detailing these grants and charitable contributions is an important part of our ongoing transparency drive.”

The company plans on updating its information each quarter.

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