PHARMACY

Reaching out to new CMS administrator Berwick, NACDS highlights pro-patient, pro-pharmacy goals

BY Jim Frederick

ALEXANDRIA, Va. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores is moving quickly to establish a working relationship with newly installed Medicare and Medicaid chief Donald Berwick.

NACDS on Wednesday sent a letter to Berwick, who was tapped by President Obama to serve as the new administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson urged continued collaboration with CMS on issues related to pharmacy that he said are vital to quality health care and cost reduction.

“NACDS and its member companies are committed to improving patient adherence to their prescription drug regimens,” Anderson told Berwick. “We strongly believe that access to neighborhood pharmacies and pharmacist-provided care can improve health outcomes for patients and reduce costs.”

Anderson also pointed to issues of major concern to retail pharmacy, including fair reimbursement for prescription and pharmacy services, pharmacy’s role in a medical home and the prevention of fraud, waste and abuse. He pledged NACDS’ support in working with the new CMS chief on ongoing efforts to reduce fraud and waste in the healthcare system.

“We look forward to working with you on these and other issues that impact chain pharmacies and the patients they serve,” the letter concluded.

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Pfizer suspends more tanezumab trials

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK Drug maker Pfizer is suspending some clinical studies of a biotech drug for treating pain following reports of harmful side effects in patients, Pfizer said Monday.

The drug maker halted studies of the drug tanezumab in patients with chronic low back pain and painful diabetic peripheral neuropathy at the request of the Food and Drug Administration.

Pfizer said the suspension follows further consideration of reports of harmful side effects in osteoarthritis patients taking the drug. The company already had suspended the osteoarthritis study of tanezumab in June.

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PCMA responds to government funding anti-fraud programs

BY Allison Cerra

WASHINGTON The leader of a group representing the nation’s pharmacy benefit managers responded to a House subcommittee’s decision to allot $561 million for programs designed to combat fraud, waste and abuse.

Pharmaceutical Care Management Association president and CEO Mark Merritt said the decision shows “it’s more important than ever to enhance America’s overall program integrity capabilities.” The money was provided to the Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Justice Department.

“The administration has noted that these kinds of efforts can save almost $10 billion,” Merritt said. “The other side of the anti-fraud coin is that policymakers must reject policies that inadvertently weaken the ability of public and private payers to detect and prevent waste, fraud and abuse. It’s far easier to prevent fraud than to engage in ‘pay and chase’ activities after the fact.”

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