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NACDS to House panel: Transparency key to curbing Rx drug diversion

BY Antoinette Alexander

ARLINGTON, Va. — The National Association of Chain Drug Stores submitted a written statement in lead-up to Monday’s hearing of the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health urging transparency in how federal agencies conduct enforcement activities to help curb prescription drug diversion and abuse.

The hearing is titled “Improving Predictability and Transparency in DEA and FDA Regulation.”  

In its statement, the Association also emphasized the need for government agencies to work together to address this growing challenge, while ensuring that legitimate patient access to prescription drugs will not be harmed.

“Pharmacists are front-line healthcare providers and are one of the most accessible members of a healthcare team,” NACDS wrote in its statement.

In its statement, NACDS emphasized chain pharmacy’s commitment to partnering with federal and state agencies, law enforcement, policymakers and other stakeholders to work on viable strategies to prevent prescription drug diversion and abuse. The statement also cited pharmacy’s continuous support of the mission and efforts of the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Food and Drug Administration.

But NACDS also cited concerns with inconsistency and lack of transparency in DEA’s inspection processes.

“To help address the problems of DEA opaqueness and inconsistency, we support efforts to promote accountability and transparency with respect to DEA’s inspection and enforcement programs,” NACDS wrote in its statement.

NACDS urges specific actions to rectify transparency concerns, including development of an inspection manual and compliance guidelines, improving accountability and consistency among field offices and public disclosure of inspections.

“We believe these recommendations would greatly increase predictability and transparency in DEA regulation. The adoption of such recommendations would greatly enhance the compliance efforts of DEA registrants, thus leading to more effective DEA regulation and oversight,” NACDS wrote in its statement.

Pharmacists are required “to take on diverse and sometimes conflicting roles,” NACDS wrote in its statement. “On the one hand, pharmacists have a strong ethical duty to serve the medical needs of their patients in providing neighborhood care.  On the other hand, community pharmacists are also required to be evaluators of the legitimate medical use of controlled substances.”

In its statement, NACDS also recognized existing programs that are useful and enhancements can further help in combating prescription drug abuse, such as electronic prescribing, prescription monitoring programs and law enforcement-authorized programs for return and disposal of unwanted prescription drugs.

Monday’s hearing also examined the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2013 (H.R.4069), which NACDS has previously supported, citing the bill’s importance in establishing a collaborative effort with government and private sector experts to help curb prescription drug abuse and safeguard patients.

“We believe that bringing together stakeholders to address the problems associated with prescription drug abuse in this manner would provide better solutions than have been developed to date. Improved collaboration and coordination among federal agencies and other stakeholders would benefit all, including the patient, whose legitimate access to medication must be preserved in order for any potential solution to be successful,” NACDS wrote in its statement.

NACDS expressed appreciation for the panel’s attention to the problems of prescription drug diversion and abuse and safeguarding legitimate patient access to much-needed medications.

“We look forward to working with policy makers and stakeholders on these important issues,” NACDS concluded in its statement. 

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Briggs Healthcare to make major push behind DME brand HealthSmart

BY Michael Johnsen

WAUKEGAN, Ill. — Briggs Healthcare, a supplier to the hospital, pharmaceutical/DME and retail markets for 65 years, on Monday announced it is aligning its brands under the HealthSmart name as of summer 2014. The brand will be supported by a new website for wholesale and retail customers and, in collaboration with its retail partners, new packaging. Following the announcement, more than 1,000 products will be rebranded as HealthSmart. 

"The time is right to bring all of our excellent products under the HealthSmart umbrella with a renewed focus on our marketing and brand," said Brad Mueller, EVP sales and marketing Briggs Healthcare. "We have seen the health-and-wellness product market grow, and there is great demand for stylish, well-designed products that meet customer needs. Many people don’t want to be seen with what they perceive as a medical product, so design and style are key," he said. "We are working on new product ranges that will compliment our existing offering and will excite our wholesale and retail customers alike."

In addition, new talent has been brought in to lead and overhaul its global sourcing and marketing function, including a new product development lead. New SVP marketing Vicky Mitchell joined the company following the acquisition of U.K.-based brand Switch Sticks. Mitchell now leads a team focused on the launch of the HealthSmart brand including newly appointed product development director Sam Bradley, who joins the company from Sears and ACCO Brands.  

And Randy Evans joins the company as SVP global sourcing, having worked in China and Asia in a variety of sourcing roles, and formerly in the United States at Dollar General, K Mart, The Marketing Store and Sears. 

Briggs is looking to increase the market share of the HealthSmart offering and build on all of its current sales channels, including e-commerce. A new website for wholesale customers launches in July with a new consumer store slated for September.

The company sells through thousands of pharmacies and drug stores, major retailers including Walmart, Walgreens, CVS, directly into medical facilities and internationally through a network of distributors.  

Since buying DMS Holdings in 2004, Briggs has maintained the MABIS Healthcare, DMI and Stein’s Professional Foot Care brands, which were part of the DMS portfolio. The Switch Sticks and Brazos Walking stick ranges were added in 2012. 

Briggs Healthcare’s medical records business will remain unchanged and still operates under the Briggs name. 

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McKesson owns a 75.7% stake of Celesio

BY Michael Johnsen

SAN FRANCISCO — McKesson on Monday announced that the results of the initial acceptance period of the voluntary public takeover offer for the remaining shares of Celesio AG have been published. 

McKesson now owns 75.7% of Celesio shares on a fully diluted basis.

Shareholders who did not tender their Celesio shares into the takeover offer during the initial acceptance period may tender their shares within the additional two-week acceptance period. The additional two-week acceptance period will begin on April 8 and will expire on April 22.

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