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NCPA: Proposed Pa., legislation would hinder patients’ access to biosimilars, burden pharmacists

BY Antoinette Alexander

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Pending legislation in the Pennsylvania state legislature is raising the eyebrows of several industry members, including the National Community Pharmacists Association, whch stated that the legislation in its current form would "severely limit access to more affordable medications, vastly increase overall healthcare costs to Pennsylvania businesses and citizens and add cumbersome reporting requirements on healthcare providers."

In a statement and letter sent to the Pennsylvania legislature, B. Douglas Hoey, CEO of the NCPA warned against S.B. 405.

"On behalf of our patients, community pharmacists strongly oppose S.B. 405 in its current form. The legislation is specifically intended to pad the profits of certain large pharmaceutical manufacturers, while sticking the bill to patients and employers and burdening independent community pharmacists with unnecessary regulations.

"Millions of patients have benefitted from cost-savings generally associated with generic prescription drugs and community pharmacists strongly support their appropriate use. Likewise, a new wave of interchangeable biologic products, or biosimilars, is expected to enter the U.S. market in future years and offers significant savings potential to patients and the sponsors of healthcare plans, such as employers.

"S.B. 405 is intended to thwart that outcome by burying pharmacists and other healthcare providers in needless red tape to deter the prescribing and dispensing of cost-saving, interchangeable biosimilars in place of much costlier brand name versions. These new drugs will be required to go through an extensive review and approval process by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is charged with approving medications. The FDA has publicly warned against legislation similar to S.B. 405 in other states due to the potential to undermine biosimilar cost savings, as well as the agency's proven drug approval efforts."

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores has noted that its position is similar to NCPA’s and it also opposes S.B. 405
 

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Annie’s goes grass-fed with new line of products

BY Ryan Chavis

BERKELEY, Calif. — Annie's is making its way into a new category with the introduction of Organic Grass Fed Macaroni & Cheese, which is made with cheese from humanely raised cows with year-round access to pasture. 
 
"Annie's is excited to enter the Grass Fed category with an innovative new line of macaroni & cheese," said Amanda Steele, SVP of marketing at Annie's. "We know consumer demand for grass fed products is growing. In fact, 92% of Annie's consumers surveyed noted that they purchase grass fed products, including meat, dairy and yogurt. We expect that they'll be thrilled to see grass-fed cheese in one of their favorite convenient meals."
 
The new grass-fed products will be available in three varieties: Organic Grass Fed Shells & Real Aged Cheddar; Organic Grass Fed Shells & White Cheddar; and Organic Grass Fed Classic Mild Cheddar. Each variety packs 10 g of protein per serving. Consumers can find the products at Whole Foods nationwide for a suggested retail price of $3.29. 
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Land of Lincoln Health partners with Walgreens to provide members free health-risk assessments

BY Michael Johnsen

CHICAGO – Land of Lincoln Health, an Illinois-based nonprofit co-op health insurance company, announced its partnership with Walgreens on Tuesday to offer Land of Lincoln Health members free health-risk assessments at Healthcare Clinics at select Walgreens locations throughout the state of Illinois.
 
“Giving our members additional access to care, educating patients on their healthcare needs and assisting them in navigating their healthcare options is at the core of Land of Lincoln Health’s mission and vision to bring high quality, affordable healthcare services to our members,” said Jason Montrie, Land of Lincoln Health president. “Land of Lincoln Health is thrilled about this new collaboration with Walgreens to offer members better benefits and serve our broad network of primary care providers across the state.”
 
The health-risk assessment starts with a face-to-face appointment at no charge. The screening also includes a comprehensive panel test that checks for a number of high-risk indicators, such as high cholesterol and elevated blood sugar. Beginning Nov. 1, members will have access to this screening by going to any Healthcare Clinic location at select Walgreens in the state.
 
 
The addition of these services supports ongoing continuity of care by transmitting the results of the assessment using the latest, secure technology to the patient’s primary care provider. If the patient does not have a primary care physician, Walgreens can connect them with an in-network Land of Lincoln Health physician by utilizing the carrier’s provider finder.
 
“In today’s health care environment, it’s more important than ever for health plans and payers to provide their members with the tools and resources to help lead healthy lives,” said Alan London, Walgreens VP strategic clinical partnerships. “We’re proud to work with Land of Lincoln Health to provide risk assessments that are convenient for members. This also enables Healthcare Clinic providers to work collaboratively with an individual’s primary care physician to coordinate patient care, which is key to achieving better health outcomes.”
 
Land of Lincoln Health considers the health-risk assessment to be beneficial to both members and primary care physicians. 
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