PHARMACY

Senate OKs military spending bill extending TRICARE pharmacy choice

BY Jim Frederick

WASHINGTON Community pharmacy’s long campaign for a level playing field to fill prescriptions for military members and their families is nearing the finish line, thanks to passage in the Senate of a massive military spending bill.

Over the weekend, the Senate passed the House-Senate negotiated version of S. 3001, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009.  The bill includes an important provision to preserve pharmacy choice for TRICARE beneficiaries.

The House passed S. 3001 last week. If signed into law by Pres. Bush, the bill would preserve the right of U.S. military members and their families to choose where they have their prescriptions filled with passage of a newly revised military spending bill.

The provision would extend the current freeze on increases to retail pharmacy co-payments, thus maintaining a level playing field for retail pharmacies vis-a-vis mail-order pharmacies. Chain and independent pharmacy advocates fought a long struggle to have that provision included in last year’s military spending bill, and were buoyed by its inclusion in this year’s proposal.

“We are pleased that the House and Senate have recognized the importance of choice and urge the President to act quickly to sign the bill,” commented Steven Anderson, president and chief executive officer of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.

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Ligand releases details of plan to purchase Pharmacopeia

BY Alaric DeArment

SAN DIEGO Ligand Pharmaceutical plans to buy New Jersey biotech Pharmacopeia for as much as $70 million, the San Diego drug maker has announced.

Ligand’s shareholders will get an 84 percent stake in the new company, while Pharmacopeia shareholders would get a little more than half a share in Ligand for every Pharmacopeia share they own. That makes the deal worth $1.81 per share.

The deal will probably close in the first three months of next year, depending on regulatory and shareholder approvals.

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Ontario pharmacies severely underpaid, new study of reimbursements reveals

BY Jim Frederick

TORONTO Retail pharmacies in Ontario are being paid far less for prescriptions dispensed under Canada’s healthcare system than what it costs them to provide those prescriptions to patients, a new study reveals.

In partnership with the Ontario Pharmacists’ Association, the Canadian Association of Chain Drug Stores announced the results of the province-wide study Wednesday at a meeting of the Economic Club of Toronto. Those results, based on an independent survey of 505 community pharmacies across Ontario, show a striking discrepancy between what pharmacies are paid for dispensing medications and what they can recoup for their services.

The independent study found the median cost to provide dispensing and related pharmacy services was $13.77 per prescription. The estimated average payment the provincial government provides to pharmacies for those services, however is far less: approximately $8.70 and declining, according to CACDS president and CEO Nadine Saby, who presented the findings.

“We need to work closely with government to find the innovative and alternative solutions that will ensure the sustainability of patient care and community pharmacy in Canada,” said Saby.

The study was conducted by MENTORx, a consulting firm that specializes in pharmacy-based research. Its aim: to assess the operating costs incurred by Ontario community pharmacies to dispense prescription drugs and deliver related pharmacy services to patients.

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