Survey: Generic reimbursement lag an impediment to community pharmacy
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Patient access to generic prescription drugs and community pharmacies are both increasingly at risk due to inadequate reimbursement rates that fail to cover the cost of filling prescriptions, according to a new survey of 700 community pharmacists conducted by the National Community Pharmacists Association.
“For decades community pharmacists have promoted the appropriate use of generic drugs to lower costs. However, more recently the price for some of these medications has skyrocketed 1,000% or more virtually overnight while reimbursement rates paid to community pharmacists have inexcusably lagged behind for weeks or months,” stated NCPA CEO Douglas Hoey.
“This survey finds that this problem has only grown more severe over the past two years and requires urgent attention from federal and state policymakers,” Hoey added. “Community pharmacies cannot be expected to continually fill many prescriptions at a significant loss. Ultimately patients are impacted as well. Some patients are already skipping medication due to higher prices and copays or are forced into the Medicare coverage gap or ‘donut hole’ sooner. Others will likely find it more difficult to find certain generic drugs at all because their pharmacy can no longer afford to stock and dispense them.”
The new survey asked pharmacists to describe their experiences in this area since an earlier 2013 survey first documented the problem. Among the findings:
- Virtually every pharmacist experienced a “large upswing” in the acquisition cost of a generic drug over the past six months, with approximately 80% stating that this occurred in at least 26 instances during this period;
- 93% said the situation has grown worse since the 2013 survey; and
- The vast majority of pharmacists (87%) said it took one month or longer for reimbursement rates (often MACs or “maximum allowable costs”) to be updated by the insurance plan’s pharmacy benefit manager to reflect market costs. Nearly all pharmacists (92%) said the problem of slow MAC updates has deteriorated since 2013 and that appeals to update reimbursement benchmarks are typically denied or ignored by the PBM.
Respondents were also asked to mention specific drugs and instances of below-cost reimbursement. The most commonly cited medications include Benazepril (high blood pressure); Clomipramine (antidepressant); Digoxin (control heart rate); Divalproex (to treat seizures and psychiatric conditions); Doxycycline (antibiotic); Budesonide (asthma); Haloperidol (psychotic disorders); Hydroxychroloquine (rheumatism arthritis, malaria); Levothyroxine (hypothyroidism); Methylphenidate (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder);Morphine (pain); Nystatin/Triamcinolone (fungal skin infections); Pravastatin (high cholesterol; heart disease); Tamsulosin (benign prostatic hyperplasia-BPH); and Tizanidine (muscle relaxant).
To mitigate this problem Reps. Doug Collins, R-Ga., and Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, have introduced H.R. 244, The MAC Transparency Act. It would apply to Medicare Part D, the military’s TRICARE program and the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program and would require MAC benchmarks to be updated every seven days to better reflect market costs and allow pharmacists to know the source by which such benchmarks are set. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, in response to NCPA’s concerns, issued a final rule in May 2014 to require price updates in Medicare Part D every seven days starting in 2016.
Sandoz Canada GM to lead new CGPA Biosimilars Board
TORONTO – The Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association announced Tuesday the establishment of a new CGPA Biosimilars Board and the election of Michel Robidoux, president and general manager of Sandoz Canada, as its inaugural chair.
"The establishment of the new CGPA Biosimilars Board signifies the focus our industry is placing on ensuring that Canada is a viable market for the production and sale of biosimilar treatments," said Robidoux. "The establishment of clear rules for the approval and reimbursement of cost-saving biosimilar products in Canada is essential for the ongoing sustainability of both public and employer-sponsored drug plans, and to ensure that more Canadians can gain access to the treatments they need."
"We have an important role to play in educating patients, prescribers and drug plan sponsors on biosimilar products," Robidoux added. "As the worldwide biosimilars market continues to rapidly evolve with more products becoming available, we will bring that international experience to Canada."
Robidoux was appointed president and general manager for Sandoz Canada in 2010 and has more than 25 years of experience in the pharmaceutical, generic, consumer and medical device industry. He originally joined Sandoz Canada as VP sales in 2008. Before joining Sandoz, Robidoux was VP at Roche for various business units within the company such as Diabetes Care, Professional Diagnostics, Molecular Diagnostics and also Applied Science. Prior to Roche, he worked at Bayer for seven years in sales and marketing.
FDA files sDNA for Pradaxa
BY Ryan Chavis
RIDGEFIELD, Conn. — Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals on Monday announced that the Food and Drug Administration has filed a supplemental new drug application for Pradaxa (dabigatran etexilate mesylate) to prevent deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism in patients who have had hip replacement surgery. If the sNDA is granted approval, this will mark the fourth indication for the drug.
According to the company, almost 300,000 hip-replacement surgeries are performed each year in the United States, without preventative treatment, incidences of DVT range from 40% to 60%. Fatal PE occurs in one-of-500 patients, the company said.
“Total hip replacement is a common procedure, and preventive anticoagulant treatment is recommended because of the potential for DVT and PE, which can be life-threatening for some patients,” said Sabine Luik, MD, SVP, Medicine and Regulatory Affairs, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals. “The acceptance of this sNDA is another step toward expanding the therapeutic uses for Pradaxa to improve patient outcomes in this population.”
Pradaxa first received FDA approval in 2010 and was approved for two additional indications — including the treatment of DVT and PE — in 2014.
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