NCPA: Members left out of the FSA mix
ALEXANDRIA, Va. A new Internal Revenue Service requirement intended to ensure that flexible spending account debit cards are used only for eligible purchases, has produced a wave of logistical problems for independent community pharmacies, putting them at an unfair, competitive disadvantage, the National Community Pharmacists Association announced Friday.
However, for those NCPA members who signed on for FSAok AutoCopay, a service announced by NCPA on July 8, there have been no issues, NCPA noted.
Since the IRS mandate took effect, community pharmacists who had installed an appropriate “point-of-sale” system and/or qualified for the “90%” exemption from the requirement have had transactions involving FSA debit cards consistently rejected, NCPA noted. And calls to the Special Interest Group for IIAS Standards, a standards-setting body that oversees the new requirement, can take several business days to initially reach a representative.
As a result, community pharmacists are being told to send their patients to their larger chain competitors.
“Independent community pharmacies have been consistently and comprehensively disadvantaged in transactions of the type SIGIS was established to equitably facilitate,” NCPA EVP and CEO Bruce Roberts, wrote in a letter to SIGIS.
“We are receiving consistent complaints from our membership that SIGIS and its processes are opaque, unresponsive and lack transparency. Worse, our members consistently find that SIGIS is unresponsive and unhelpful,” he commented. “The processes and procedures being used by SIGIS appear to disadvantage small community and independent pharmacies, and in doing so, hurt their ability to compete in the marketplace with SIGIS’ large corporate members,” Roberts continued. “This is a source of grave concern to NCPA and our members.”
NCPA officials raised these concerns in a July 23 conversation with SIGIS officials and are hopeful the group will take prompt measures to alleviate some of the problems community pharmacies are experiencing. Specifically, the NCPA letter requests the following actions:
- Establish a dedicated independent pharmacy help-desk that is answered by a live individual during regular business hours. All inquiries received via e-mail or on after-hours voicemail should be responded to within 24 hours;
- SIGIS should facilitate and expedite the acquisition of merchant codes by community pharmacies within 24 hours. In addition, community pharmacies should not be classified as e-merchants or placed in a non-medical category;
- SIGIS should notify pertinent parties when an error occurs in the application process within 24 hours for all applicant types;
- SIGIS needs to notify pertinent parties when amendments of applications occur so that an independent pharmacy, the acquirer or other relevant party is made aware of any new information within 24 hours;
- SIGIS should notify and make available to plan administrators and card processors the list of newly certified merchants on a daily basis;
- SIGIS should send correspondence to all plan administrators advising them to stop directing employees/patients to particular pharmacies or pharmacy chains.
Diagnostic Devices in contract with two states for Medicaid-covered blood glucose monitoring systems
CHARLOTTE, N.C. Diagnostic Devices on Wednesday announced contracts with the states of Illinois and Missouri around Medicaid coverage of its Prodigy line of blood glucose monitoring systems and test strips.
“We will continue working with other states for coverage under their Medicaid programs, and to demonstrate to them the savings Illinois and Missouri taxpayers will realize with the Prodigy family of products,” stated Rick Admani Abulhaj, Diagnostic COO.
A recent study by University of Florida PharmD candidates found the “talking” feature of the Prodigy AutoCode meter made a “significant improvement” in overall diabetes control and compliance among patients who took part, the company noted.
The Prodigy Voice meter for blind or low-vision diabetes patients has been honored with awards from both the National Federation of the Blind and the American Foundation for the Blind, the company added.
Fairhaven Health presents clinical study results for FertilAid for Men
BELLINGHAM, Wash. Fairhaven Health, which manufactures a male fertility supplement, recently presented a clinical study at the American Society of Andrology’s annual meeting, the company announced Tuesday.
Results from a recent clinical study indicate that FertilAid for Men provides significant improvements in sperm quality for men with abnormal sperm parameters. In particular, results of the 90-day, double blind, placebo-controlled study suggest that FertilAid for Men supports significant increases in the total number of normal motile sperm. Previous clinical studies have suggested a strong relationship between the “total normal-motile sperm count” and the fertility of the man.
“Most of the men that had increased sperm counts while taking FertilAid for Men also showed improvements of 20% or more in the number of healthy sperm,” stated lead researcher J. Ellington.
FertilAid for Men is a male fertility supplement that integrates vitamins, antioxidants, a proprietary blend of herbal ingredients and the amino acid, l-carnitine. Scientific literature suggests that antioxidants can improve male fertility by reducing oxidative stress and damage to spermatozoa, while supporting fundamental protective functions of the seminal plasma which insulate and nourish sperm. In independent studies, antioxidants reduce “free-radical” damage, in particular to the sperm’s DNA or genetic material, resulting in better pregnancy outcomes.
Research on the amino acid, l-carnitine, yields similar pro-fertility findings: L-carnitine supports “sperm metabolism”, or the ability for sperm to break down complex molecules to produce energy. L-carnitine has been shown in a number of clinical studies to enhance several fundamental sperm parameters, including sperm concentration, motility and normal morphology.
Fairhaven Health’s distribution partners include drugstore.com, BabyCenter and CVS.com, as well as a number of clinics and private practices nationwide.