PHARMACY

NACDS urges Senate to oppose prescription drug importation

BY Allison Cerra

ALEXANDRIA, Va. An organization representing the country’s retail pharmacy chains has issued a letter to the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee that urges the committee to oppose the personal and commercial importation of prescription drugs.

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores issued a letter that strongly opposes an amendment to the “Affordable Health Choices Act,” which is currently under consideration by the committee. The letter, addressed to the committee’s chairman Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and ranking member Mike Enzi, R-Wy., was undersigned by NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson.

“NACDS shares the goal of reducing the cost of prescription drugs. However, we do not believe that consumer safety can be ensured in any system that allows for the personal importation of prescription medications,” Anderson wrote.

“In addition to numerous concerns about the safety and effectiveness of imported drugs, individuals who obtain prescription medications through a personal importation scheme are denied access to qualified, licensed pharmacists to consult with them about using the medications safely and effectively,” Anderson added. “At a time when Congress seeks to tackle growing healthcare costs, reduced access to counseling that helps ensure medication adherence and appropriate use could place patients’ health at unnecessary risk and increase healthcare costs. NACDS also has serious safety and operational concerns about the commercial importation of pharmaceuticals. Multiple outstanding issues remain, including how to maintain a consistent, safe and adequate supply of commercially imported prescription medications,” he added. 

Anderson also urges for such alternative methods as a wider integration of medication therapy management and “generic utilization” to reduce drug expenditures. “The savings realized with generic versions of traditional pharmaceuticals can be translated to biopharmaceuticals through a sensible policy that allows pharmacists to substitute biogeneric for their brand name counterparts when appropriate,” Anderson said. “Therefore, we urge the committee to move forward with its plan to include a pathway for generic biopharmaceuticals in the Affordable Health Choices Act.”

Earlier this week, NACDS kicked off its first inaugural RxIMPACT Day in Washington, D.C., where the organization met with congressional leaders to discuss pro-patient, pro-pharmacy policies.

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PHARMACY

FTC clears J&J acquisition of Cougar Biotechnology

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. The Federal Trade Commission has given clearance to the acquisition of a biotechnology company by drug maker Johnson & Johnson.

J&J announced that the FTC had granted early termination of the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act with respect to J&J’s acquisition of Los Angeles-based Cougar Biotechnology.

J&J made a tender offer last month to acquire Cougar for $1 billion, or $43 per share, and Cougar’s board recommended that stockholders accept the offer. If J&J manages to acquire a majority of tendered shares, and fulfills other customary conditions, Cougar will become a subsidiary, working with J&J’s biotech division. The tender offer expires at midnight July 2.

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NCPA presents drug disposal advocacy to Congress

BY Alaric DeArment

ALEXANDRIA, Va. An organization representing the country’s independent pharmacies took its advocacy of drug disposal programs to Congress Thursday.

Speaking on behalf of the National Community Pharmacy Association, pharmacist Cheri Garvin testified before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security’s “Safe and Responsible Drug Disposal” hearing.

Garvin, CEO of Leesburg Pharmacy in Leesburg, Va., developed a drug disposal program for her pharmacy that the NCPA said serves as a business model that its 23,000 members can use. The organization said safe drug disposal helps prevent diversion and the contamination of drinking water that results from patients flushing unused medications down toilets.

“Patients need viable, convenient solutions when seeking to dispose of their unused medications,” Garvin said in her testimony. “Programs that allow for drop-off at multiple public locations, as well as programs that allow for patients to utilize prepaid mailers to dispose of medications, should be encouraged.”

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