PHARMACY

NACDS urges passage of bailout bill

BY Jim Frederick

ALEXANDRIA, Va. With the fate of financial bailout legislation still far from certain, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores is urging Congress to quickly pass the compromise financial bailout package hammered out by House and Senate negotiators over the weekend.

NACDS president and chief executive officer Steven Anderson submitted a letter to the bipartisan leadership in Congress today urging the passage of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 as quickly as possible. The legislation, he told lawmakers, “is desperately needed to provide liquidity, stability and restored confidence to the global financial system and the U.S. economy.

“We urge Congress to act with all due speed to pass the [bill],” Anderson added. “The proposal has been perfected through diligent negotiations between the Administration and Congressional leaders in both parties—and it represents the best chance we have to avert financial disaster and restore our nation’s economic health.”

In late-breaking news, however, the House on Monday voted 228 to 205 to reject the bill over continuing concerns about the wisdom of bailing out troubled investment banks with taxpayer funds, the size of the relief package, executive compensation and other concerns. House and Senate leaders are continuing efforts to get legislation passed by the end of the week, but today’s failure to pass the bill sent the stock market plummeting yet again in a dismal repeat of recent trading days on Wall Street.

In his letter, Anderson reminded Congressional leaders that chain pharmacies “are an important segment of our national economy,” accounting for 2.5 million jobs, including 118,000 pharmacists, and pouring $33.6 billion into federal and state tax coffers annually.

“As the ‘face of neighborhood healthcare,’ drug stores see first hand the ill effects that economic distress has on families and communities,” Anderson noted. “A weak economy means more Americans without insurance and more people having trouble affording vital health care, like prescription medicines. Our patients, customers and employees all feel acutely the ill effects of this economic crisis and action is needed now.”

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Ligand releases details of plan to purchase Pharmacopeia

BY Alaric DeArment

SAN DIEGO Ligand Pharmaceutical plans to buy New Jersey biotech Pharmacopeia for as much as $70 million, the San Diego drug maker has announced.

Ligand’s shareholders will get an 84 percent stake in the new company, while Pharmacopeia shareholders would get a little more than half a share in Ligand for every Pharmacopeia share they own. That makes the deal worth $1.81 per share.

The deal will probably close in the first three months of next year, depending on regulatory and shareholder approvals.

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Ontario pharmacies severely underpaid, new study of reimbursements reveals

BY Jim Frederick

TORONTO Retail pharmacies in Ontario are being paid far less for prescriptions dispensed under Canada’s healthcare system than what it costs them to provide those prescriptions to patients, a new study reveals.

In partnership with the Ontario Pharmacists’ Association, the Canadian Association of Chain Drug Stores announced the results of the province-wide study Wednesday at a meeting of the Economic Club of Toronto. Those results, based on an independent survey of 505 community pharmacies across Ontario, show a striking discrepancy between what pharmacies are paid for dispensing medications and what they can recoup for their services.

The independent study found the median cost to provide dispensing and related pharmacy services was $13.77 per prescription. The estimated average payment the provincial government provides to pharmacies for those services, however is far less: approximately $8.70 and declining, according to CACDS president and CEO Nadine Saby, who presented the findings.

“We need to work closely with government to find the innovative and alternative solutions that will ensure the sustainability of patient care and community pharmacy in Canada,” said Saby.

The study was conducted by MENTORx, a consulting firm that specializes in pharmacy-based research. Its aim: to assess the operating costs incurred by Ontario community pharmacies to dispense prescription drugs and deliver related pharmacy services to patients.

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