PHARMACY

Plan to cut Saturday postal service draws heat from mail-order pharmacy

BY Jim Frederick

WOONSOCKET, R.I. The much-discussed plan by the cash-strapped U.S. Postal Service to end Saturday delivery has drawn sharp opposition from managed care and mail-order pharmacy operators, Bloomberg news service reported.

Among those leading the opposition are two pharmacy benefit management and mail-order giants, CVS Caremark and Medco Health Solutions, according to a Bloomberg report today. Both companies said the plan to cut postal deliveries to weekdays only would boost their operating costs as they shift Saturday shipments to UPS, FedEx or other alternative carriers, and delay the movement of needed medicines to patients.

Together, CVS Caremark and Medco accounted for more than 150 million prescription drug shipments in 2009, according to the news service. They’ve joined a broad-based campaign by online retailers and small-newspaper publishers to stop the Postal Service from scrapping Saturday service, which the government said will annually save it roughly $3 billion.

Speaking at a Postal Regulatory Commission hearing on behalf of those opposed to the move was Ken Czarnecki, CVS’ SVP mail pharmacy operations, according to the report. Czarnecki testified that weekday-only postal service would hamper efforts to get medications to patients on time and create difficulties for many Americans.

The postal service has been making Saturday deliveries since 1863, according to Bloomberg. But the agency has been stung hard by high operating costs and the ongoing shift away from mail and toward online communications, and postmaster general John Potter has projected the service an operating deficit of $7 billion this year alone if changes aren’t made.

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A1c readings may not be accurate for some ethnic groups, study finds

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK The hemoglobin A1c test may not provide accurate results for elderly Asians, according to published reports about a new study.

 

The American Diabetes Association said the test works when doctors use an A1c reading of 6.5% to indicate diabetes, but the study, conducted in Singapore, found that the cutoff often misses the disease in older Asians. The study was conducted on participants between the ages of 20 and 93 years.

 

 

The study’s findings were scheduled to be presented Sunday at the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting in San Diego, according to the reports.

 

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Valeant, Biovail to merge

BY Alaric DeArment

TORONTO U.S. drug maker Valeant and Canadian drug maker Biovail will merge, the two companies said Monday.

The combined company will carry the name Valeant Pharmaceuticals International but will have its headquarters in Mississauga, Ontario. Valeant is currently based in Aliso Viejo, Calif.

Under the agreement, Valeant stockholders will receive $16.77 per share immediately before the merger’s closing and, after its closing, 1.78 shares of Biovail stock for every share of Valeant stock they own. After the merger closes, Biovail shareholders will own around 50.5% and Valeant shareholders will own 49.5% of the combined company.

Biovail is known mostly for such specialty drugs as the antidepressant Wellbutrin XL (bupropion), while Valeant’s range of branded and branded generic drugs include the acne treatment Acanya Gel (clindamycin phosphate and benzoyl peroxide).

Valeant CEO J. Michael Pearson will reside in Barbados as the new CEO, while Biovail CEO Bill Wells will be nonexecutive chairman. The company’s 11-member board of directors will include five representatives from Biovail, five from Valeant and one independent Canadian resident director.

“This compelling combination will create tremendous value for stockholders of both companies as our business benefits from cost savings, greater scale, efficiencies from extending Biovail’s corporate structure and enhanced financial strength and flexibility,” Pearson said.

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