PHARMACY

Pharmacy groups support patient, pro-pharmacy provisions of Kennedy health plan

BY Allison Cerra

ALEXANDRIA, Va. Editor’s Note: A headline for a story that appeared on June 10 regarding industry reaction to the Affordable Health Choices Act, commonly referred to as the Kennedy health plan, suggested that NACDS and NCPA fully endorsed the plan. To clarify, the groups support certain provisions of the bill, particularly a proposed grant program to implement MTM services for people with chronic conditions.

Pharmacy groups have applauded pro-patient, pro-pharmacy provisions of the Affordable Health Choices Act by Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee chairman Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the National Community Pharmacists Association welcomed the introduction made by the HELP committee, citing that the legislation will empower pharmacists to play a larger role in the U.S. healthcare system.

“The legislation recognizes that medication therapy management services provided by pharmacists is a vital component of coordinated care delivered by community health teams,” said NACDS president, CEO Steve Anderson. “Additionally, the bill establishes a pioneering grant program to implement MTM for the treatment of chronic diseases. This is an important step toward further integrating MTM into healthcare delivery to improve outcomes and reduce costs.”

Earlier this week, NACDS announced it would meet with key lawmakers on Capitol Hill to discuss the current flaws in the healthcare system, including rising healthcare costs, revisions to the Medicaid pharmacy reimbursement system and the inclusion of medication therapy management provisions.

While both groups embrace the legislation, the NCPA suggests the review of certain provisions.

“We want to make sure the requirement that employers provide healthcare benefits does not unfairly impact small businesses like independent pharmacies,” said NCPA EVP and CEO Bruce Roberts. While the bill is a welcome starting point, NCPA will continue working with Congress on our remaining health care reform agenda to help independent pharmacies better serve patients. We need a permanent fix to Medicaid’s AMP approach to paying for generic drugs or thousands of community pharmacies will be forced to leave the program or close altogether. State-licensed pharmacists should be exempted from Medicare’s costly and onerous durable medical equipment accreditation requirement, which threatens patient access to diabetes testing supplies and other goods. In addition, oversight of pharmacy benefit managers is needed to ensure they are more transparent, accountable, and better serve patients.”

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Aurora Health Care to honor cancer survivors

BY Alaric DeArment

MILWAUKEE With more people diagnosed with cancer every year but more of them surviving, a nonprofit healthcare system in eastern Wisconsin plans to honor cancer survivors.

Aurora Health Care, which runs the Aurora Pharmacy chain as well as a network of hospitals and clinics, announced Tuesday that it would mark National Cancer Survivors Day on Saturday with several events in three Wisconsin cities.

“There has been great progress in cancer prevention, early detection and treatment that has resulted in ever-increasing numbers of survivors,” Aurora Health Care VP cancer services Joseph Mirro said. “Now that more patients are being cured of their cancer and living longer, there’s a growing number of survivors with unique needs.”

Events will include a walk and run for cancer in Milwaukee, a gathering in Sheboygan and booths offering cancer screenings and information in Oshkosh.

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FDA gives tentative approval to generic breast cancer treatment

BY Alaric DeArment

ROCKVILLE, Md. The Food and Drug Administration has given tentative approval to a generic drug for treating breast cancer.

The drug, Roxane Labs’ letrozole tablets in the 2.5 mg strength, is a generic version of Novartis’ Femara.

Femara had global sales of $1.13 billion in 2008, according to Novartis financial data. Novartis’ patent on the drug will expire in 2011, according to the FDA’s Orange Book.

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