NewsBytes — Chain Pharmacy, 6/25/12
FLINT, Mich. — The leader of the country’s largest privately owned specialty pharmacy provider had a day in Washington. Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy CEO Phil Hagerman and several other business leaders were invited last month to attend a one-day forum on jobs and the economy, and opportunities for collaboration between government and private sector, by the White House Business Council and Business Forward.
“I am extremely honored to represent Diplomat, the state of Michigan and also Flint’s business community,” Hagerman said. “Diplomat’s continued growth has positioned us to be part of the Michigan delegation. In January, we had 360 employees. Today, as the nation’s fourth-largest specialty pharmacy, we employ over 700 people, and we’re hiring every day.”
Diplomat has expanded rapidly in the Flint area, completing in early 2011 its move to the General Motors Great Lakes Technology Centre. In July 2011, the company received a visit from secretary of labor Hilda Solis and was named in September 2011 to Inc. magazine’s top 5,000 list for the third year in a row.
In the wake of the White House Summit, Diplomat will look to hire more veterans, according to published reports. “The plight of unemployed veterans” was one of the takeaways from the event, Hagerman told local media in Michigan.
CAMP HILL, Pa. — Rite Aid is expanding the range of vaccines that customers can get at its stores in West Virginia following rules recently enacted by the state regulators, the retail pharmacy chain said. Under the new regulations adopted by the state pharmacy, medicine and osteopathy boards, pharmacists now can vaccinate adult patients against hepatitis A, hepatitis B, tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough, shingles, flu and pneumonia.
“Thanks to the new regulations, it’s easier than ever for West Virginians in both rural and urban communities to protect themselves against a wide range of diseases,” Rite Aid regional VP pharmacy Bill Cropper said.
QUINCY, Mass. — Two supermarket chains owned by Royal Ahold are dispensing prescription pet drugs at their stores, they said. Stop & Shop announced a new pet medications program, which it is offering under a partnership with pet pharmacy PetCareRx. The program includes three popular prescription drugs for pets that had previously only been available from veterinarians and online vet pharmacy providers, including Heartguard Plus, Rimadyl and Frontline Plus. If customers can’t fill drugs at a local store, the pharmacist will work with PetCareRx to fill and ship the drug directly to their home address within two or three days. Another Ahold chain, Giant-Carlisle, is offering a similar program, also under a partnership with PetCareRx.
“At Stop & Shop, we recognize that pets are members of the family, and their health and well-being are of great importance to our customers,” Stop & Shop New England division public and community relations manager Suzi Robinson said. “We’re pleased to offer this great convenience for shoppers to pick up prescriptions for their pets when they pick up prescriptions for others in their family.”
Unused drugs: Take them back or throw away?
In 2008, an investigation by the Associated Press revealed that drinking water supplies in major cities and metropolitan regions across the country are riddled with pharmaceutical compounds. For 41 million Americans, it suggests water with something extra means more than just a slice of lemon, though the quantities of pharmaceutical compounds in the water are too small to constitute a medical dose, according to the report.
One reason why drugs are showing up in drinking water is because often when people take them, some pass through their bodies without being metabolized. But another reason is the habit many people have of flushing unused drugs down the toilet.
The Drug Enforcement Administration, working with local law enforcement agencies, has been arranging national drug take-back days every few months. The main purpose of the events is to keep drugs out of the hands of drug abusers, but sponsors of the events, including city governments and retailers, have touted their environmental benefits as well.
According to a new study by the University of Michigan, however, the best way to get rid of drugs in order to protect the environment may be to throw them in the garbage. The study, published in April in Environmental Science & Technology, measured the total emissions of active pharmaceutical ingredients and other water and air pollutants from three drug-disposal methods: taking them back to the pharmacy, throwing them in the trash and flushing them down the toilet.
The study found that if half of the estimated 200 million lbs. of unused drugs accumulated every year were thrown away and half were taken back, the amount of APIs in the environment would be reduced by 93%, while everybody throwing them in the trash would reduce the APIs by 88%. At the same time, however, the 5% difference would cost the economy possibly more than $1 billion per year and a 300% increase in emissions of greenhouse gases and smog-forming substances.
“National policy seems to be changing to support take-back programs, and we don’t know if that’s justified,” study author and University of Michigan Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering doctoral student Sherri Cook said.
To keep drug abusers from getting to prescription drugs, the study recommended mixing them in a sealed plastic bag with an unpalatable substance, such as coffee grounds.
Currently, the Food and Drug Administration and the DEA recommend throwing unused drugs away if patients don’t have access to take-back programs, such as those sponsored by pharmacy retailers like CVS and Giant-Carlisle. Supermarket chain Giant-Carlisle announced in May that it had collected nearly 3 tons of unused medications at 43 stores during a national take-back day. Meanwhile, the DEA regards take-backs as the best way to dispose of unused drugs.
“Unused drugs thrown in the trash in their bottles can be retrieved and abused or illegally sold,” a spokesman for the DEA’s Philadelphia division told Drug Store News, saying that the agency only recommends throwing drugs away if no take-back program is available. “Proper disposal of used prescription drugs can save lives.”
Legislative News — Chain Pharmacy, 6/25/12
WASHINGTON — Legislation proposed in the House of Representatives would speed up Food and Drug Administration approval of knock-off versions of vaccines and other biologics while requiring the agency to conduct more inspections of drug factories overseas, according to published reports.
News media reported last month that the bills, sponsored by Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa., would create an expedited FDA approval pathway for follow-on versions of biogenetic medications, such as vaccines and drugs made from human tissue and plasma. According to media reports, Murphy said the legislation would make the medications more affordable and accessible while ensuring that offshore drug makers are held to the same manufacturing standards as those based in the United States.
According to reports, the House Energy and Commerce Committee voted 46-0 to send the bill to the House floor.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — A new law in Alabama will establish standards in the pharmacy audit process conducted by pharmacy benefit managers in the state. Last month, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley signed SB 383, the Pharmacy Audit Integrity Act, which establishes uniform standards for the auditing of pharmacy records and includes requiring two weeks written notice of an audit. The law also requires audits that involve clinical or professional judgment be conducted in consultation with a pharmacist and establishes an appeals process.
The bill drew praise from the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, which has endorsed federal legislation that seeks to preserve pharmacy choice for patients and takes additional steps to prevent threats to pharmacy patient care. The bipartisan Pharmacy Competition and Consumer Choice Act — S. 1058 and H.R. 1971, sponsored by Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., respectively — includes provisions requiring transparency by PBMs in pharmacy audits.
MONTPELIER, Vt. — Vermont also enacted a PBM audit law, which drew praise from NACDS as well. S. 200, signed into law by Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, establishes consistent standards for the auditing of pharmacy records and includes requiring two weeks written notice of an audit; requires auditing records be provided to the pharmacy; sets a 60-day deadline for the preliminary audit report following completion of an audit; and establishes a written appeals process.
“We thank Gov. Shumlin for enacting this important pro-patient, pro-pharmacy legislation to curb practices used by some PBMs that jeopardize the role of community pharmacy in improving patient care and making healthcare delivery more efficient and cost-effective,” NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson said. “We thank the Vermont Association of Chain Drug Stores for their leadership in helping to ensure transparency in the PBM audit process.”