PHARMACY

NACDS, FMI file legal brief against AWP reductions in First DataBank/Medi-Span lawsuit

BY Alaric DeArment

ALEXANDRIA, Va. An organization representing the country’s retail pharmacy chains has filed a legal brief with an appellate court challenging a settlement that reduces average wholesale prices.

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores announced Monday that it and the Food Marketing Institute had filed the brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit challenging First DataBank and Medi-Span settlements to reduce AWPs. The two organizations said that AWP cuts would cut Medicaid reimbursements for many pharmacies, cutting total Medicaid reimbursements by about $68 million a year.

“Patient access to pharmacy is at risk if the pending settlements are implemented as they will cut Medicaid reimbursement rates for many pharmacies to devastating levels,” NACDS president and CEO Steven Anderson said in a statement. “Patient access should not be compromised. In filing the appeal, we urge that the court not penalize pharmacies but instead rule on the side of patients.”

In April, the two organizations filed a motion seeking a stay to halt the implementation of the reductions. The court is scheduled to hold a hearing with oral arguments during the last week of July.

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Innovative Card Scanning teams up with RediClinic

BY Antoinette Alexander

PLANO, Texas Innovative Card Scanning, a developer and provider of insurance card and ID scanning solutions for physicians, hospitals, medical billers, pharmacies and retail clinics, has teamed up with RediClinic.

Innovative Card Scanning’s DocketPORT Scanning Technology is now in place at 21 RediClinic locations across Houston and Austin, with plans for the scanning technology to be placed in future locations.

“Our business is based around the treatment of common conditions that can be accomplished conveniently and quickly for patients. It’s very important for us to optimize our check-in process to be as quick and efficient as we can, and this is one more way to help make that a reality,” stated RediClinic COO Lori Knowles.

With the new system, RediClinic patients have their insurance card and/ or driver’s license immediately scanned upon the office visit, creating a secure electronic record that follows them throughout the billing process.

The RediClinic billing department uses these files as a reference throughout the process to quickly confirm information accuracy or identify and correct any errors in-house. This system eliminates the need for paper files or to perform outside research to correct errors, and saves payment and claims that would sometimes be lost due to insufficient contact information, according to the company.

RedicClinic will have the option to further upgrade to Innovative Card Scanning’s optical character recognition technology, which will automatically extract patient data and populate it into their EMR system.

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Merck: Investigational drug did not meet endpoints

BY Allison Cerra

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. Merck & Co. said Friday that preliminary results for the pivotal phase III study of rolofylline (MK-7418), the company’s investigational medicine for the treatment of acute heart failure, show that rolofylline did not meet the primary or secondary efficacy endpoints.

“Advances to help patients with acute heart failure, a disease that is the leading cause of hospitalization for patients over age 65 and that is associated with a high rate of mortality, have long been elusive,” said Dan Bloomfield, M.D., executive director, cardiovascular research, Merck Research Laboratories. “These results are disappointing because we had been hopeful that blocking the adenosine A1 receptor with rolofylline would prove to be a useful new approach for these patients.

The primary endpoint for the phase III study were that the drug would would improve symptoms of acute heart failure (compared with placebo). Secondary endpoints included reducing the risk of death, renal re-hospitalization 60 days after treatment and reducing the incidence of persistent kidney impairment.

Rolofylline was acquired by Merck through NovaCardia, which Merck purchased in 2007. Results from the PROTECT pilot study, presented at previous medical meetings and published in 2008, had showed an overall trend toward efficacy (more patients with improved shortness of breath, fewer patients with worsening renal function and/or worsening heart failure).

While Merck will continue to analyze the data with outside experts, the company will not file applications for regulatory approval this year. The results from this study will be presented at a medical meeting later this year.

Merck’s late-stage pipeline of investigational medicines for cardiovascular disease includes MK-524A (approved in some markets outside the U.S.), MK-524B, ezetimibe/atorvastatin, and anacetrapib (MK-0859) for atherosclerosis, and vernakalant for atrial fibrillation.

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