PHARMACY

Schering-Plough to pay $31 million to settle suit with Missouri’s Medicaid

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK Drug maker Schering-Plough will pay $31 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the state Medicaid program of Missouri alleging that it had overcharged the program for medications.

“This is a tremendous day for Missouri taxpayers in the fight against fraud by pharmaceutical companies,” Missouri State Attorney General Jay Nixon said in a statement.

A circuit court jury in St. Louis ordered Schering-Plough to pay compensatory damages of $7.3 million for overcharging the program. The parties reached the settlement Monday as punitive damages were being discussed.

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Doctors stretching schedules, resources to keep up with retail clinics

BY Jenna Duncan

NEW YORK More doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers are stretching their time and resources so they can be even more accessible to patients to stay competitive against the growing retail clinic business, The New York Times reported today.

Many physicians and other providers have reworked their schedules and started adding Web-based services in order to meet the immediate needs of patients, the report said. The higher demand for walk-in and retail-based clinic services stems from cutbacks in healthcare coverage which are causing more people to cover expenses out-of-pocket, the report stated.

Professional general practice and family medical groups are encouraging doctors to open up their practices to more relaxed scheduling—many are being encouraged to accept walk-in patients. The American Academy of Family Physicians, for example, plans to spend $8 million for consultants who will analyze and advise doctors in how to more efficiently provide and offer patient care, reports said.

Furthermore, the American College Of Physicians has begun a push for  patient-centric care—the focus of a policy paper—which urges more flexibility for patient scheduling, and advancing practices with electronic records and e-prescribing.

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Meijer provides free antibiotics, pre-natal vitamin prescriptions; receives recognition from MPCA

BY Jenna Duncan

LANSING, Mich. Meijer has received the Legacy of Leadership award from the Michigan Primary Care Association for its program dispending free antibiotic and free pre-natal vitamins to patients, the company said Thursday.

Meijer was given the award at MPCA’s 29th Annual Distinguished Service Awards luncheon. MPCA is a nonprofit organization representing Michigan’s Community Health Centers and other community community-based health services providers.

“The Michigan Primary Care Association Legacy of Leadership Award annually recognizes the performance of exemplary leadership to benefit Michigan Community Health Center patients, many of whom are low-income and/or uninsured. … MPCA and our 32-member Health Centers applaud [Meijer]’s groundbreaking initiatives to help improve the health of Michigan residents,” Kim Sibilsky, MPCA executive director said.

Meijer initiated the free antibiotics program available to customers throughout the Midwest two years ago. Since its inception, about 2.7 million general antibiotics prescriptions have been filled for free, the company said. Meijer estimated that its customers have saved more than $45 million.

The free pre-natal vitamin program was started this past June. Meijer has said that it has already dispensed more than 50,000 pre-natal vitamin prescriptions for free, saving customers about $700,000.

There are no health insurance coverage or co-pay requirements to sign up for the free antibiotics or free pre-natal vitamins programs at Meijer’s pharmacy, the company said. More information is available through the company’s homepage at www.Meijer.com.

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