PHARMACY

NACDS survey warns of widespread pharmacy closings due to reimbursement reductions

BY Drew Buono

ALEXANDRIA, Va. According to a survey by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the Food Marketing Institute, 11,105 pharmacies across the country could close due to reductions in the Medicaid reimbursement rate. This will affect more than 300,000 people who have jobs in these pharmacies and will also lead to a loss of $31.1 billion for the nation’s economy.

The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 calls for reimbursement rates on Medicaid prescriptions to be well below their cost to fill them and this will most likely lead to the store closings.

The study finds that the impact of the decrease in reimbursement rates on the number of pharmacies will vary by state. However, the largest percentage reductions in pharmacies are projected in New York (40 percent), the District of Columbia (37 percent), Louisiana (32 percent), West Virginia (30 percent) and Alaska (28 percent).

“These cuts threaten to diminish access to medications and pharmacy services, and they also threaten the vitality of communities,” said NACDS president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson. “Pharmacies are the face of neighborhood healthcare, but these cuts could wipe these faces away, particularly in rural and urban areas with higher Medicaid populations.”

“In many rural and urban communities, supermarkets provide the only pharmacies able to serve Medicaid patients,” said Tim Hammonds, president and chief executive officer at FMI. “By reducing Medicaid reimbursements as this law requires, many pharmacies would be forced to close, and low-income Americans would have to travel many miles to obtain vital medicines.”

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Santen completes Phase III testing of eye drug

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK Inspire Pharmaceuticals announced Friday a $1.25 million milestone payment from Japan-based company Santen Pharmaceutical for the completion of Phase III testing of the eye drug diquafosol tetrasodium, also known as DE-089. The two companies have a collaborative agreement to develop the drug.

DE-089 is designed to treat such eye-surface diseases as dry eye. Santen expects to file for marketing approval in Japan by June, and also plans to market the drug throughout Asia. Pending approval of DE-089 by regulatory agencies, Santen will market the drug while Inspire will receive royalties on net sales.

New York-based Inspire discovers, develops and commercializes ocular and respiratory drugs. Santen specializes in ocular and anti-rheumatic drugs and had headquarters in Osaka, Japan.

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Salix receives FDA approvable letter for Balsalazide colitis treatment

BY Alaric DeArment

RALEIGH, N.C. Salix Pharmaceuticals has received an approvable letter from the Food and Drug Administration for its ulcerative colitis drug Balsalazide Tablet NDA, the company announced May 16. The drug is designed to treat mild-to-moderate active ulcerative colitis in patients 18 years and older. The disease causes ulcers in the lining of the rectum and colon.

Salix has headquarters in Raleigh, N.C., and specializes in drugs to treat gastrointestinal disorders. The company markets such drugs as Colazal (balsalazide disodium) capsules 750 mg, Xifaxan (rifaximin) tablets 200 mg, Osmoprep (sodium phosphate monobasic monohydrate, USP and sodium phosphate dibasic anhydrous, USP) tablets and Moviprep (PEG 3350, sodium sulfate, sodium chloride, potassium chloride, sodium ascorbate and ascorbic acid for oral solution.

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