PHARMACY

NACDS members, allies to advocate pro-patient, pro-pharmacy policies

BY Allison Cerra

ALEXANDRIA, Va. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores will welcome more than 150 pharmacy advocates to Capitol Hill to meet with key lawmakers about the importance of pro-patient, pro-pharmacy policy in the context of healthcare reform.

Part of the association’s newly-launched grassroots advocacy program, the NACDS RxIMPACT Day on Capitol Hill will involve the discussion of rising healthcare costs with members of Congress, including revisions to the Medicaid pharmacy reimbursement system and the inclusion of medication therapy management provisions.

The NACDS has cited flaws in the healthcare system, but said they are hoping the discussions will positively impact healthcare reform.

A temporary delay is in place until Sept. 30, set forth by the 2008 Fair Medicaid Drug Payment Act (S. 1951/ H.R. 3700). A preliminary injunction that resulted from a lawsuit filed by NACDS and the National Community Pharmacists Association also has temporarily blocked the cuts. Pharmacy advocates will urge lawmakers to permanently fix this system. Otherwise, these cuts could do damage to healthcare access for millions of disadvantaged Americans. Further these cuts could mean insufficient pay and job loss, pharmacy closures, and reduced access to cost-saving generics.

“Pharmacy plays a critical role in helping patients maintain their health and in keeping healthcare costs down, and therefore should be a part of any healthcare reform package under consideration,” said Steve Anderson, president, CEO of NACDS. “We are very pleased that pharmacy advocates will be in Washington, D.C. during this critical time of debate on the most important domestic issue that impacts all Americans

— healthcare reform.”

Attendees will have the opportunity to hear from Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.), who will keynote the opening session of the RxIMPACT Day on Capitol Hill on June 16. Rep. Ross serves on the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee,which has jurisdiction on issues related to Medicaid, Medicare, the Food and Drug Administration and healthcare reform.

“NACDS looks forward to continue engaging in discussions with key lawmakers about these critical issues — not only during our Hill visits, but as the healthcare debate progresses this year,” Anderson said.

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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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