PHARMACY

NCPA hails new move in Senate to curb Medicare DME requirements

BY Jim Frederick

WASHINGTON The National Community Pharmacists Association is hailing new, bipartisan efforts in Congress to ease burdensome restrictions on the sale of durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and supplies by retail pharmacies under the Medicare Part B program.

U.S. Senators Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, have introduced legislation that would exempt pharmacies from federal requirements that they post a $50,000 surety bond in order to sell DMEPOS to Medicare beneficiaries. The legislation serves as a companion bill to a similar measure in the House of Representatives, known as the Preserve Patents Access to Reputable DMEPOS Providers Act of 2009.

NCPA EVP and CEO Bruce Roberts today issued a statement in support of the new Senate proposal.

“This legislation is important to maintaining patient access to essential medical supplies, such as diabetes testing strips,” he said. “It allows patients to continue relying on their trusted local pharmacies as a one-stop shop where prescription drugs, medical advice and supplies are available and health outcomes are maximized.”

The bond requirement, Roberts added, “should not apply to pharmacists, who are already subject to state regulations and are not associated with violation.” What’s more, he said, “Fourteen other medical providers are already exempted from this time-consuming and expensive requirement, and this bill would add pharmacists to that list.

“NCPA encourages the Senate and House to move these bills in an expeditious fashion. This will ensure patient access to medical supplies is not endangered,” added NCPA’s top executive. “We deeply appreciate the leadership of Senators Jon Tester and Pat Roberts and their continued efforts to help pharmacists continue to play a vital role in the health care chain.”

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Investigational oxycodone formulation may discourage drug abusers

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW ORLEANS Two drug companies may have developed a formulation of the painkiller oxycodone that discourages drug abusers.

King Pharmaceuticals and Acura Pharmaceuticals announced Friday that results from an oral abuse liability study of the drug Acurox (oxycodone hydrochloride and niacin) tablets indicate they are disliked among people with a history of opioid abuse, compared with oxycodone tablets alone when they swallow excess doses.

“The fact that people with a history of opioid abuse showed a disliking of Acurox tablets in excessive doses is an indication that the product is an important step in the development of medicines that are designed to deter common methods of abuse, such as over ingestion, while effectively managing pain,” lead study author and chief of Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center’s Center for Chemical Dependence Donald Jasinski said.

Results of the study were presented Friday at the American Society of Addiction Medicine’s Medical-Scientific Conference.

The two companies said the Food and Drug Administration had given Acurox priority review classification, and they expect to get a response from the FDA by June 30.

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Amylin issues letter to shareholders regarding board of directors

BY Alaric DeArment

SAN DIEGO Drug maker Amylin Pharmaceuticals is urging shareholders to reject prospective members of its board nominated by investor Carl Icahn and Eastbourne Capital Management.

Amylin sent a letter to shareholders Friday, signed by president and CEO Daniel Bradbury and lead independent director James Wilson, requesting that they instead vote for the company’s current board, saying the company was “poised to revolutionize” Type 2 diabetes treatment with the once-weekly formulation of the drug Byetta (exenatide), currently awaiting approval by the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA approved the twice-daily formulation of the drug in 2005.

“To ensure that you benefit from this value opportunity, it is imperative that Amylin has the best possible board of directors,” Bradbury and Wilson wrote in the letter.

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