PHARMACY

NCPA: Preferred pharmacy networks don’t necessarily net prescription savings

BY Michael Johnsen

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The Medicare Part D program and taxpayers often pay more when prescription drugs are obtained through "preferred" pharmacies and mail order than they would if the same prescriptions were filled through other, "non-preferred" pharmacies, according to a cost comparison made by the National Community Pharmacists Association released Thursday using the Medicare Plan Finder website. The findings come shortly after recently proposed requirements that officials with the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services suggested for Medicare prescription drug plans in 2015.

"This analysis suggests that neither preferred pharmacies nor mail order are the bargains for Medicare that their proponents claim," NCPA CEO Douglas Hoey, said. "We commend CMS for its recent, enhanced scrutiny of both preferred pharmacy plans and mail order. We encourage the agency to follow through on its proposed changes, which should produce greater choice and pharmacy competition for beneficiaries in 2015."

NCPA staff chose one commonly purchased PDP, the AARP Medicare Rx Preferred drug plan, and entered into Plan Finder four of the most-prescribed drugs: generic version of Lipitor—atorvastatin calcium Tab 20mg 90-day supply; generic version of Plavix—clopidogrel Tab 75mg 90-day supply; diovan—Tab 80mg 90-day supply; and Nexium—Cap 40mg 90-day supply. The costs were compared between preferred, mail order and non-preferred pharmacies in nine cities across the country.

According to the NCPA analysis, 89% of the time, preferred pharmacy costs to Medicare were higher than those of non-preferred pharmacies. Mail order costs to Medicare exceeded those of non-preferred pharmacies 100% of the time.

"Independent community pharmacies are often excluded from a plan’s list of ‘preferred pharmacies’ and thereby denied the ability to offer patients the lowest, advertised co-pay," Hoey noted. "Community pharmacy owners have contacted plans and offered to accept the same contract terms and conditions, including reimbursement, as preferred pharmacies, but are routinely rebuffed or ignored. This situation creates problems for patients because independent community pharmacies are frequently located in rural and other underserved areas, from which the closest preferred pharmacy may be 20 miles or further away.

That problem may be exasperated in the near term by how popular preferred pharmacy plans are becoming for enrollees. According to a recent Drug Channels analysis, 60 of 2014’s 106 Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans have a preferred pharmacy network design, and 75% of seniors have enrolled in one of these 60 plans. 

 

 

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Report: NYC’s Avignone Chemists sells Rx files to CVS/pharmacy

BY Antoinette Alexander

NEW YORK — Avignone Chemists, which is located in New York City’s West Village neighborhood, has sold its pharmacy business to CVS/pharmacy, according to a local news report.

While the patient files have been transferred to a CVS/pharmacy just a few blocks away at Washington Place and Sixth Avenue, according to an article by DNAinfo.com, the store will continue to sell front-end merchandise, including higher-end beauty.

As evidenced by such merchants as C.O. Bigelow and Caswell-Massey, higher-end, beauty-centric apothecary style independents continue to thrive.

 

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FDA advisory panel recommends approval of Merck’s vorapaxar

BY Michael Johnsen

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. — Merck on Wednesday commended the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Cardiovascular and Renal Drugs Advisory Committee’s recommendation for approval of vorapaxar. Vorapaxar is the company’s investigational antiplatelet medicine for the reduction of atherothrombotic events, when added to standard of care, in patients with a history of heart attack and no history of stroke or transient ischemic attack.

“There are approximately 7.6 million Americans who have survived a heart attack. Each year, about 190,000 of them have a recurrent heart attack, so there remains a need for additional treatment options,” stated Daniel Bloomfield, VP cardiovascular diseases for Merck Research Laboratories. “The results of today’s Advisory Committee mark an important milestone in our effort to bring vorapaxar to appropriate patients with a history of heart attack. We look forward to working with the FDA as it completes its review.”

The FDA is not bound by the committee’s guidance, but takes its advice into consideration when reviewing investigational medicines, Merck noted. 

 

 

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