PHARMACY

NCPA urges strengthening of 340B program in letter to Congress

BY Allison Cerra

ALEXANDRIA, Va. An organization representing the nation’s independent pharmacies issued a letter to the chairmen of two congressional committees, expressing its opinion of a program provision in the two healthcare-reform bills currently being reconciled between the House and Senate.

The National Community Pharmacists Association’s letter — issued to Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., of the House Energy and Commerce Committee — focused on 340B pharmaceutical pricing program, which is “being undermined and threatened,” the organization said. Although the program would be expanded, giving way to pharmaceutical discounts under the program, and include inpatients as well as outpatients, NCPA said the program should be safeguarded and protected against the diversion of discounted drugs to ineligible patients or inappropriate use by the facilities that receive them.

“Community pharmacists share the commendable goal of helping patients obtain prescription medications that they could not otherwise afford,” said Bruce Roberts, NCPA EVP and CEO. “However, we believe that certain safeguards and clarifications must be integrated into the 340B program to put it on a firmer footing and prevent the misuse that currently occurs in some instances.”

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PHARMACY

Walgreens offering free review sessions to Medicare Part D beneficiaries

BY Allison Cerra

DEERFIELD, Ill. Walgreens now is offering free review sessions to Medicare Part D beneficiaries at all of its more than 7,100 pharmacies throughout the country.

Following the open enrollment period for Medicare Part D insurance plans, Walgreens is assisting those beneficiaries who’ve made changes to their prescription drug coverage. Review sessions with Walgreens pharmacists are available daily by appointment through Jan. 31, and are designed to help patients maximize their plan benefits.

Review sessions include:

  • A review of beneficiary’s current medications, tiers within their selected plan, co-pays and cost-savings opportunities
  • Discussion of available health and wellness services including pneumonia and shingles vaccinations and 90-day prescription benefits
  • Checks for potential drug interactions

Customers can call their nearest Walgreens pharmacy to schedule an appointment. Visit www.walgreens.com or call 1-800-Walgreens for store locations and hours.

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Watson files FDA application for generic LoSeasonique

BY Allison Cerra

MORRISTOWN, N.J. Watson Labs, a subsidiary of specialty pharmaceutical company Watson Pharmaceuticals, has filed an abbreviated new drug application to the Food and Drug Administration for an oral contraceptive.

Watson is seeking approval to market its levonorgestrel and ethinyl estradiol (0.10-mg/0.02-mg) oral contraceptive product prior to the expiration of U.S. Patent No. 7,615,545, which is owned by Duramed Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Teva.  Watson’s levonorgestrel and ethinyl estradiol product is a generic version of Teva’s LoSeasonique, which is indicated for the prevention of pregnancy.

On Nov. 23, 2009, pursuant to the Hatch-Waxman Act, Watson notified Duramed that its ANDA requesting approval from the FDA for a generic version of LoSeasonique contained a paragraph IV certification asserting that the LoSeasonique patent is invalid, unenforceable and/or not infringed.  Teva Women’s Health filed suit against Watson on Jan. 6, 2010 in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey seeking to prevent Watson from commercializing its product prior to the expiration of U.S. Patent No. 7,615,545.  Based on available information, Watson believes it may be entitled to 180 days of generic market exclusivity or shared exclusivity should its product receive approval.

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