NACDS mixes support with caution for health bill advancing in House
ALEXANDRIA, Va. In a message of both support and concern, the leader of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Thursday conveyed guarded support for many of the pharmacy provisions included in a massive health reform bill proposed in the U.S. House of Representatives. But in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson continued the industry’s appeal for changes in the bill’s proposals for reform of the Medicaid pharmacy reimbursement process.
Anderson told Pelosi that many elements of H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act, have the support of chain pharmacy. “This important legislation includes several key priorities for NACDS membership,” he told the Democratic leader, including a reform of the Medicaid payment system for generic drug dispensing, and continued access to durable medical equipment in community pharmacies for Medicare beneficiaries.
“The legislation also paves the way for an expanded role for community pharmacy in a reformed healthcare delivery system through grant programs for pharmacist-provided medication therapy management and the medical home pilot program,” Anderson added. In light of those provisions and their potential to improve patient access, he told Pelosi, “We support the legislative process moving forward.”
However, noted NACDS’ CEO, concerns remain over the “flawed reimbursement system” for Medicaid that was created by the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005. H.R. 3962 “makes significant improvements” to that system by “taking steps to define average manufacturer price in a manner that will result in a more accurate approximation of retail pharmacy’s acquisition costs” for generic drugs, noted Anderson. The bill also “proposes using the weighted average AMP rather than the lowest AMP to set federal upper limits,” which he called “a much needed improvement that takes into account the wide range of market prices for generic drugs.”
All well and good, the pharmacy advocate told Pelosi. However, he added, NACDS still has major concerns with the way AMP is defined under H.R. 3962. Although the bill “rightfully removes pharmacy benefit manager rebates from the AMP definition,” he wrote, “additional changes to the AMP definition are still needed, such as the removal of sales of certain drugs to hospitals, physicians and clinics.”
Chain pharmacy also remains leery of the way Medicaid pharmacy reimbursements are calculated under the legislation, Anderson said, based on its proposal for a “multiplier” of cost plus 30%. “We…remain strongly concerned about the 130% multiplier,” he noted. “We fear that this multiplier will not yield sufficient reimbursement to enable local pharmacies to serve Medicaid patients, especially given the extremely low dispensing fees set by state Medicaid programs.”
Those low rates, he went on, “will likely end the incentives to dispense generic medications, which are critical in controlling prescription drug spending.”
Citing a bill proposed last year by New Jersey Democrat Frank Pallone that called for a multiplier of 300%, Anderson urged Pelosi to revise the legislation to provide a multiplier “considerably higher than 130% to ensure Medicaid patients receive a level of pharmacy access they deserve.”
Teva rolls out antihistamine generic
NORTH WALES, Pa. Generic drug maker Teva Pharmaceuticals has introduced a generic version of a prescription antihistamine.
The Israel-based drug maker’s U.S. subsidiary announced the introduction of fexofenadine hydrochloride and pseudoephedrine hyrdochloride extended-release tablets in the 60-mg/120-mg strength.
The drug is a generic version of Sanofi-Aventis’ Allegra-D and is designed to provide 12-hour relief from allergy symptoms. Allegra products had global sales of $1.02 billion in 2008, according to Sanofi-Aventis financial data.
NACDS, RollStream develop CPSIA Certificate Exchange Network
ALEXANDRIA, Va. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores, with its technology partner RollStream, earlier this month joined together to develop a new tool — the CPSIA Certificate Exchange Network — to assist NACDS members in complying with an upcoming requirement from the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008.
Signed into law in August 2008 and effective by February 2010, CPSIA requires manufacturers to provide general conformance certificates (certificates that certify the product in question is in compliance with all relative regulations) to retailers and distributors with each shipment. The law currently affects all products in commerce that are regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
“It’s everything from prescription products, over-the-counter medicines, cosmetics [and] toys,” said Steve Perlowski, NACDS VP member relations and industry affairs, during a presentation Nov. 4.
The network enables suppliers to post general conformance certificates on a central network powered by RollStream that can be readily accessed by retailers.
To help educate retailers and manufacturers about the new requirement and the Certificate Exchange Network, NACDS is hosting a series of educational webinars each Wednesday in November, from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Click here to register for one of the upcoming webinars.