PHARMACY

NCPA expresses support of Community Pharmacy Fairness Act of 2011

BY Michael Johnsen

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The National Community Pharmacists Association on Tuesday endorsed the Community Pharmacy Fairness Act of 2011 (H.R. 1839), legislation recently introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y.

If passed, the bill will create a more competitive marketplace for the delivery of pharmacy services by enhancing the ability of independent community pharmacies to negotiate with pharmacy benefit managers, the association stated.

“For years, the major insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs, have benefitted from an antitrust exemption and have opposed efforts to grant the same status to independent pharmacists,” stated Douglas Hoey, NCPA EVP and CEO. “This dynamic produces one-sided, take-it-or-leave-it contracts that can disadvantage community pharmacists with onerous contract terms while impeding true competition for consumers.”

The end result means more prescriptions for the PBM-owned mail-order pharmacies. “This inherent conflict of interest creates an even greater incentive for benefit managers to impose unfair audit and reimbursement practices [on community pharmacists],” Hoey added.

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APhA Foundation taps Mindy Smith as executive director

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — The philanthropic arm of the American Pharmacists Association has appointed a new executive director.

The APhA Foundation announced Tuesday the appointment of Mindy Smith, who will lead the foundation’s operations, research objectives and strategic direction, providing support and guidance to the board of directors and monitoring pharmacy trends. Smith currently is CEO of the Arizona Pharmacy Alliance and previously served as executive director of the Wyoming Pharmacy Association.

“The APhA Foundation is excited to welcome Mindy and have her join us,” APhA Foundation board president Dennis Helling said. “Her commitment to the advancement of the profession is evident as is her dedicated service to pharmacy and enthusiasm for her work. She has served as the leader of two pharmacy associations and is a passionate political advocate.”

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Study: Pirfenidone may improve lung function among IPF patients

BY Alaric DeArment

BRISBANE, Calif. — An investigational drug made by InterMune improved breathing in patients with a rare and fatal lung disease, according to results of a late-stage clinical trial published online in The Lancet last week.

InterMune is investigating the drug pirfenidone as a treatment for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, which affects more than 200,000 patients in the European Union and the United States combined. Only 20% of patients with IPF survive after five years.

“These newly published data document the favorable risk-benefit profile of pirfenidone in patients with IPF, consistent with the recent approval by the European Medicines Agency of pirfenidone for these patients,” lead study author and Duke University professor of medicine Paul Noble said. “Although the results of Study 004 and 006 were not identical, and only Study 004 achieved the primary endpoint, the totality of the data provides compelling evidence of a clinically meaningful treatment effect of pirfenidone, together with a favorable safety profile of patients with IPF.”

Trial results showed that the drug reduced the decline in patients’ forced vital capacity, or FVC, an important measure of lung function, compared with placebo, and also reduced the decline in the distance patients could walk in six minutes, another measure of lung function.

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