PHARMACY

NACDS responds to Senate’s failed cloture vote

BY Adam Kraemer

ALEXANDRIA, Va. In response to the failure of the Senate Thursday to achieve cloture on S. 3101, the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008, Steve Anderson, president and chief executive officer of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores released a statement, saying, “The vote to move forward with debate on Chairman Baucus’ bill fell just short for now, but the vote serves as an indicator of promising bipartisan support.”

Earlier in the week he had called the measure must-pass legislation.

Sponsored by Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., the bill had included a number of pharmacy-friendly provisions, and drawn support from numerous industry associations. “The vote also is a strong invitation to put partisanship aside to implement policies that are good for patients, healthcare providers, businesses and the national and local economies,” Anderson added.

“While this is a major step, much has to be done before these provisions become law. NACDS will continue to work to build support on both sides of the political aisle to advance the critical pharmacy provisions, on ‘cloture’ in the near future,” he said “The Medicaid pharmacy reimbursement cuts are a flawed policy that would expect pharmacies to sell drugs below cost. This illogical expectation could shutter more than 11,000 pharmacies, which account for over 300,000 jobs and $31.1 billion in economic output. Fixing this dire situation is a solid economic position. Providing a remedy such as the delay put forth in S. 3101 also is a solid healthcare position, as ensuring patients take their medications as prescribed is vital for health and wellness, and for preventing more costly forms of care. The NACDS legislative, legal, regulatory and public relations battle on the issue continues,” said Anderson.

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NCPA aims for 75 percent community pharmacy membership

BY Antoinette Alexander

ALEXANDRIA, Va. With the Presidential campaign and Senate bill 3101 looming overhead, the National Community Pharmacists Association has reached a “historic juncture,” according to Bruce Roberts, executive vice president and chief executive officer of the NCPA. Looking to give independent pharmacy a greater voice, the association has announced an aggressive membership campaign.

“We have the opportunity to define this industry in a positive way and for us all to sit back in the years to come and say we really made a difference,” said Roberts. “We can’t do that with just a small subset of the industry carrying the load. So we are going to make a major push to get the community pharmacists engaged in membership—we need to have the support of all of the industry.”

The organization currently has a membership of about 50 percent—or 12,000 members—of independent community pharmacy. The goal: To have, one year from now, about 75 percent of pharmacy owners as “engaged” members of the association.

As part of the campaign, the association will work to contact every non-member nationwide “in every possible way” including email, snail mail and telephone. The association will also work with current members, buying groups, wholesalers, etc. to reinforce the importance of being a member and encourage participation among non-members.

NCPA also plans to improve member benefits. Specific details were not disclosed but the improvements are expected to have a direct impact on members’ bottom line, and will help members attract quality employees, and attract and retain new customers.

“The one thing we will be doing beyond just asking folks to be members is we want to get them engaged. We have to have community pharmacists around the country engaged in a significant way,” said Roberts.

Serving as a slice of evidence of the success that can be achieved if community pharmacy works together is Senate bill 3101. The legislation includes provisions requiring prompt payment to pharmacies in Medicare Part D as well as a delay to the new AMP reimbursement.

“Just on this Senate bill we facilitated over 7,000 phone calls from pharmacists to Congress over the course of the last 24 hours,” said Roberts. “So for me, and the reason I become so passionate about this, is because I have seen the tremendous success we have had in just the little bit of work we have done and I can only image how successful we can be if we can get to that goal of having 75 percent of community pharmacists in the country as members—not only as members but engaged.”

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Interferon may assist with weight loss

BY Alaric DeArment

AMARILLO, Texas Researchers at Amarillo Biosciences made a surprising discovery during tests of the autoimmune disease and fibromyalgia drug interferon, the company announced Wednesday.

In a study of 582 women, given one of five low doses of oral interferon or a placebo, a significant number of women given two of the doses experienced at least 5 percent weight loss. In response, Amarillo has filed a patent with the Patent and Trademark Office for the use of oral interferon to treat obesity.

Amarillo announced that it plans to conduct further studies. The Amarillo, Texas-based company is also researching the use of low-dose, oral interferon to treat chronic cough, influenza and opportunistic infections in people with HIV.

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