PHARMACY

NACDS responds to Senate failure on Medicare bill

BY Adam Kraemer

ALEXANDRIA, Va. Following last night’s failure in the Senate to achieve cloture on H.R. 6331, the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008, National Association of Chain Drug Stores president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson issued a statement of thanks to the legislators who backed the bill and have been working to get it passed.

Despite overwhelming support in the House of Representatives, where it passed earlier in the week by a vote of 355-59, the vote last night was just shy the two-thirds needed, at 58-40 with two abstentions—one of whom was Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, who was absent for health reasons. “Last night it was clear that 59 Senators were in favor of moving forward with the bill, including nine Republicans,” Anderson stated.

The statement also noted that “NACDS would like to thank those who supported the bill that would prevent pharmacies from facing below cost payments when serving low income patients. We recognize the leadership of Senator Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Representative Frank Pallone, D-N.J., to help prevent drastic pharmacy Medicaid reimbursement cuts—the so-called AMP cuts. Their efforts have not gone unnoticed by retail pharmacies across the country and we thank them for their commitment to our industry and some of its most vulnerable patients.”

The failure to move forward does not spell the end of the fight, Anderson pointed out. “NACDS will continue to do everything possible to find a legislative solution to the problem of Medicaid reimbursement cuts that affect pharmacy.”

Among the provisions in the bill, NACDS supported instituting a program of electronic prescribing in Medicare, “to help improve efficiencies and reduce medical errors in our nation’s health care system; ensuring that pharmacies in the Medicare Part D program are reimbursed in a timely fashion; and providing a delay in the implementation of the competitive bidding program for durable medical equipment.” Many other pharmacy advocacy groups supported these initiatives, as well.

“The battle continues,” concluded Anderson’s statement, “and NACDS looks forward to working with Congress on legislation that will help to ensure low-income patients and seniors have access to retail pharmacies.”

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Study: pharmacist monitoring can help hypertension

BY Alaric DeArment

SEATTLE An experiment by the Seattle-based Group Health Cooperative has found that Web-based monitoring by pharmacists can help control hypertension.

It found that 56 percent of patients assigned home blood pressure monitoring, Web site training and Web-based pharmacist care experienced increases in control of blood pressure. Those who received the blood pressure monitoring and Web site training only did not experience a significant increase.

The study involved 778 patients ages 25 to 75 in three groups with uncontrolled essential hypertension and Internet access between June 2005 and December 2007.

Results of the study appeared in Wednesday’s issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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Genzyme, Isis complete license agreement for cholesterol drug

BY Alaric DeArment

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. Genzyme and Isis Pharmaceuticals announced Tuesday that they had finished a license and collaboration agreement for mipomersen, a drug candidate designed for patients with high cholesterol.

Under the agreement, Genzyme will pay Isis $175 million in licensing fees. Isis will contribute up to $175 million for development. After that, the two companies will share development costs. Isis may also receive up to $1.5 billion in commercial, development and regulatory milestone payments. Genzyme will have preferred access to future drugs that Isis develops for rare diseases and diseases affecting the central nervous system.

The companies will share profits for the drug, with Genzyme receiving 70 percent and Isis receiving 30 percent. They will split profits equally once revenues on mipomersen reach $2 billion. Genzyme will also be responsible for funding sales and marketing until revenues can cover them.

“Mipomersen is an innovative treatment that has the potential to change the standard of care for severely ill patients whose needs cannot be addressed by current cholesterol-lowering therapies,” said Henri A. Termeer, Genzyme’s chairman and chief executive officer.

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