PHARMACY

Nearly 90 representatives call on USPS to preserve Saturday delivery of medications

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — More than seven dozen members of the House of Representatives are urging the U.S. Postal Service to continue delivering medications to all Americans six days a week.

In a letter to U.S. postmaster general and CEO Patrick Donahoe, a bipartisan group of 88 representatives pointed out that many Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, Veterans Administration and other beneficiaries rely on mail-order delivery of medications.

"Whether it is a homebound senior that cannot walk or drive to the pharmacy, or a veteran who lives in a rural area with limited access to the prescription drugs they need, all of these home-delivery beneficiaries cannot afford to go without their medications for days," the representatives wrote. "Nor should they have to obtain their medications through more costly delivery methods, which would only draw business away from the USPS and threaten its long-term financial stability."

The letter was sent amid plans that the Postal Service announced to halt Saturday delivery of mail. Last year, the agency racked up losses of nearly $16 billion, and the reduced delivery plan, set to take effect in August, is expected to save about $2 billion annually.

"About 1-in-6 prescriptions that are home-delivered arrive on Saturday," said president and CEO Mark Merritt of the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, a lobbying group for the pharmacy benefit management industry, which makes extensive use of mail-order pharmacy to deliver medications to patients. "Consumers count on getting their prescriptions at the right time and often can’t wait an additional two days, or even three days in the case of federal holidays that fall on a Monday."


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PHARMACY

Bi-Lo expands prescription program through loyalty card

BY Michael Johnsen

GREENVILLE, S.C. — Bi-Lo on Wednesday launched in all of its pharmacies a prescription program that significantly enhances the offerings of its existing program. The expanded program runs through the Bi-Lo BonusCard and offers deep discounts on more than 450 generic medications and varied discounts on name-brand and other generic medication.

“Not everyone has insurance or health benefits that adequately cover prescriptions,” stated John Fegan, VP pharmacy for Bi-Lo. “This expanded program offers significantly deeper services to our customers, provides a wider array of discounted medications and is significantly easier for our customers to use now that it runs directly through our BonusCard."

For an annual enrollment fee of $5, customers with a Bi-Lo BonusCard can realize expanded benefits, including: 

  • A $5 store coupon automatically loaded to the customer’s BonusCard;
  • $4 30-day and $10 90-day generic prescription pricing on an extensive list of more than 450 generic drugs;
  • Discounts on brands and other generic medications;
  • A list of free antibiotics;
  • Free blood pressure medication, including Lisinopril 2.5 mg, 5 mg, 10 mg, 20 mg, 30 mg, and 40 mg; and
  • Free diabetes medication including, Metformin 500 mg, 850 mg, and 1,000 mg immediate release tablets.

 


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FDA gives breakthrough therapy designations to experimental cancer drug

BY Alaric DeArment

RARITAN, N.J. — The Food and Drug Administration has given a special designation to a cancer drug under development by Johnson & Johnson and Pharmacyclics, the companies said.

J&J subsidiary Janssen Research & Development and Pharmacyclics announced that the FDA had given breakthrough therapy designations to the experimental drug ibrutinib as a standalone therapy for relapsed or refractory mantle cell lymphoma in patients who have received prior therapy and for Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia.

The breakthrough therapy designation was enacted as part of the 2012 FDA Safety and Innovation Act. The agency uses it to expedite development and review time for a potential new medicine for a serious or life-threatening disease or condition in cases when evidence suggests the drug may demonstrate substantial improvement over existing therapies.


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