PHARMACY

New pharmacy fairness bill makes first foray in Congress

BY Jim Frederick

WASHINGTON Reprising a pharmacy-friendly bill that failed to pass in the last session of Congress, a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House of Representatives is advancing legislation aimed at leveling the playing field between small-scale community pharmacy operators and big managed care companies.

Reps. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., and Jerry Moran, R-Kan., have introduced H.R. 1204, the Community Pharmacy Fairness Act of 2009. The bill, which has attracted 32 other original co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle, would allow independent pharmacies to negotiate collectively with PBMs for prescription provider contracts for plan members. The ability to negotiate with giant PBMs as a group, rather than individually, would provide independent pharmacy operators with enough clout to compete for contracts with big pharmacy chains, said advocates for the industry. It also would give them more negotiating clout with those plans, they asserted.

“Current law prevents community pharmacists from having the same leverage as large chains in negotiating the terms of their contracts with PBMs,” said Bruce Roberts, EVP and CEO of the National Community Pharmacists Association. “As a result, community pharmacies are given the Hobson’s Choice of signing unfair contracts that don’t benefit patients, or lose their patients altogether. That is why we applaud Congressmen Anthony Weiner and Jerry Moran for introducing the Community Pharmacy Fairness Act of 2009, and we urge the House Judiciary Committee to take action on the bill and hope the Senate will also introduce a companion bill soon.”

NCPA has long asserted that independents have to cope with take-it-or-leave-it contracts by PBMs, with little room to bargain for better financial terms, less restrictive formularies for patients, etc. “Giant PBMs have voiced concern over allowing pharmacies to negotiate for fear of losing the PBMs’ monopoly over these small businesses that allows them to dictate terms and create windfall profits for their shareholders,” the group asserted on Friday.

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PHARMACY

Take Care clinics open in Arizona, Illinois

BY Antoinette Alexander

CONSHOHOCKEN, Pa. Take Care Health Systems, which is owned by Walgreens, has announced the opening of two clinics in Chandler, Ariz., and Oak Lawn, Ill.

The new openings make 17 Take Care Clinics in the Phoenix market and 34 clinics in the Chicago market.

In total, the company operates 334 clinics in 35 markets throughout 19 states.

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FDA approves new Sanofi-Aventis insulin pen

BY Alaric DeArment

BRIDGEWATER, N.J. The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new insulin pen from Sanofi-Aventis, the drug maker announced Thursday.

Apidra SoloSTAR (insulin glulisine [rDNA origin]) is a prefilled, disposable insulin pen containing the fast-acting insulin analog Apidra. Apidra is used to improve glycemic control in patients aged 4 and older with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Its approval follows the 2007 approval and launch of Lantus SoloSTAR (insulin glargine [rDNA origin]).

 “People with diabetes have to contend with the challenges of carbohydrate counting, regular blood pressure monitoring and careful administration of their insulin,” Sanofi-Aventis U.S. VP metabolism marketing Angela Moskow stated. “Apidra SoloSTAR represents another innovation introduced by Sanofi-Aventis that offers patients a convenient option for administering their Apidra.”

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