NCPA sends letter to House committee chairman on ways to help pharmacy, patients
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The independent pharmacy lobby has issued a letter to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., with insight on how certain current or proposed federal regulations can burden pharmacies and their patients.
The National Community Pharmacists Association offered Issa — who requested input on which pieces of legislation can negatively impact the nation and how they can be improved — input on four pieces of legislation: competitive bidding for diabetes testing supplies, IRS 1099 reporting requirements, reduced access to over-the-counter medicines through flexible spending accounts and limited access to the 340B drug discount program. NCPA EVP and CEO Kathleen Jaeger said that while some federal regulations are "well-intentioned, [they] undermine patient access to cost-saving services and disadvantage the small businesses that provide this care."
The specific problems and remedies the NCPA noted included:
That future requirement for all diabetes testing supplies and other products to be competitively bid or subject to a similar pricing scheme will cause disruption in services, according to the NCPA, and that a permanent community pharmacy exemption should be enacted, as well as authorization to continue providing home delivery to special needs patients;
Support of repealing the new IRS 1099 reporting requirements on businesses that purchase goods and services from corporations for $600 or more, because of the significant additional paperwork of filing an average of 100 to 200 new Form 1099s per pharmacy. That mandate, the NCPA declared, would limit the amount of time pharmacists can spend with patients;
NCPA support of policies that encourage the appropriate use of OTC medications and concern with the regulations prohibiting consumers from using their pre-tax FSAs to pay for OTC medicines unless the patient has a prescription. Such restrictions discourage the use of low-cost means to treat health conditions, the group said; and
NCPA support of reforms to the 340B program to ensure medications, which are required to be sold at a significant discount by the manufacturer to federally funded clinics and certain disproportionate share hospitals, that are used for the intended populations: uninsured and underinsured Americans. Currently, the NCPA said, the patient eligibility criteria are ill-defined and reportedly have allowed providers to offer well-insured patients co-pay discounts that may lure them away from community pharmacies, while diverting limited federal funding from the neediest of patients. "We seek a more practical definition to include only patients who do not have prescription drug insurance," the NCPA wrote.
Watson’s revenue grows 25%
SAN FRANCISCO — Though it plans to announce its fiscal year 2010 results next month, Watson Pharmaceuticals offered a peak at some preliminary numbers at the 29th annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference Wednesday.
Watson said that based on a review of results for last year, it expects to have earned revenues of more than $3.5 billion, a 25% increase over 2009.
“[Year] 2010 was another year of exceptional performance,” Watson CEO Paul Bisaro said. “We experienced continued solid growth across the business, with particularly strong contributions from our generic extended-release and oral contraceptive franchises in the United States, as well as from our Anda distribution business.”
The company plans to release fourth-quarter and full-year 2010 results on Feb. 15.
Acute visits climb as MinuteClinic preps for rapid growth phase
WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Caremark’s retail-based clinic operator, MinuteClinic, is experiencing exponential gains in utilization and posted a 22% increase in acute visits during the past year, Larry Merlo, CVS Caremark president and COO, told investors Wednesday during the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference.
The increase, which reflects visits in comparable clinic locations, is especially significant in light of the lack of flu-related illnesses. MinuteClinic currently operates more than 550 clinics in 55 markets and, going forward, its important role in the U.S. healthcare system undoubtedly will grow increasingly vital. "Going forward, MinuteClinic will take on added significance," Merlo told investors. "Think about the growing shortage of the primary care physician population, along with the 32 million uninsured coming online with some type of coverage beginning in 2014."
As previously reported by Drug Store News, MinuteClinic is gearing up to meet the increased demand. The clinic operator plans to open more clinics at a rate of about 100 clinics per year, beginning this year. This growth plan will enable the company to double the number of clinic locations over the next five years. By 2015, MinuteClinic estimated it will operate about 1,060 clinics in 100 markets.
Merlo noted that CVS Caremark expects MinuteClinic to break even at the enterprise level by the end of 2011.