NACDS supports delay in competitive bidding program
ALEXANDRIA, Va. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores released a statement today praising the introduction of legislation that will delay and reform Medicare’s competitive bidding program for durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and supplies.
H.R. 6252, the Medicare DMEPOS Competitive Acquisition Reform Act of 2008, was introduced Thursday by House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chairman Pete Stark, D-Calif. and Health Subcommittee Ranking Member Dave Camp, R-Mich., along with original cosponsors Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell, D-Mich., Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee Chairman Frank Pallone, D-N.J., and House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio.
According to NACDS, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has excluded diabetic supplies sold at retail pharmacies from the competitive bidding program in part because of the unique nature of this disease and its impact on beneficiaries. While providing meaningful safeguards and enhancement to the program, the sponsors of the bill rejected harmful proposals to freeze and/or cut the fee schedule for these products or expand competitive bidding to include diabetic products sold at retail pharmacies.
In a letter to the bill’s sponsors, NACDS declared its strong support for the Medicare DMEPOS Competitive Acquisition Reform Act. “We thank Chairman Stark, Ranking Member Camp, and all the bill’s cosponsors for siding with Medicare beneficiaries and recognizing that interaction with pharmacists is critical in proper diabetes management,” said NACDS president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson. “H.R. 6252 will ensure that suppliers are treated more fairly and that beneficiaries continue to have access to necessary items and services.”
NCPA aims for 75 percent community pharmacy membership
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.”
Interferon may assist with weight loss
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.