PHARMACY

With tamper-proof pad deadline looming, NACDS’ Anderson goes on the offensive

BY Jim Frederick

ALEXANDRIA, Va. The way prescriptions are written is about to change. In line with efforts by the Bush Administration to curb drug abuse and Medicaid fraud, pharmacies and physicians have less than two weeks to begin using tamper-proof prescription pads.

In a dramatic, last-minute reprieve, Pres. Bush signed into law at the end of September a bill that delayed, for six months, a looming requirement that all Medicaid prescriptions to be written on tamper-resistant prescription paper. Ready or not, that six-month grace period is about to expire.

In an urgent letter sent over the weekend to NACDS chain members, Steve Anderson, president and chief executive officer of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, reminded pharmacy executives of the looming deadline.

“The six-month delay for which NACDS advocated is almost over,” Anderson noted in the letter, dated March 14. “The new requirement that written Medicaid prescriptions appear on tamper-resistant paper will come into effect nationwide on April 1.”

In his memo, Anderson urged members to take advantage of resources assembled by the organization to help retail pharmacies through the transition. “NACDS and allied associations have worked extensively to educate prescribers about this requirement, in an effort to maximize use of compliant prescription paper. We also have worked with the federal government and state Medicaid agencies to foster efficient implementation,” he wrote.

Urged on by NACDS and pharmacy advocates, the National Council for Prescription Drug Programs also developed a patient information sheet that Anderson wrote “may be helpful for your purposes.” That NCPDP document, along with other resources, are now available by clicking on the “issues” option within the Government Affairs section of the group’s web site, www.NACDS.org. The NACDS staff contact for the tamper-proof pad issue is Stuart Gordon, at (703) 837-4121, sgordon@nacds.org.

In January, NACDS joined with 89 other pharmacy and medical organizations in an outreach and letter-writing campaign to all state Medicaid directors, advising them of the pending new requirements for tamper-proof pads and seeking additional guidance on compliance with the new mandate and a six-month phase-in period allowed by CMS. The groups also sought help from state Medicaid directors in getting the word out to prescribing physicians within their states, to assure that doctors are up to date on the new rule and have the necessary prescription pads to comply with the law.

A second letter went out March 6 to the 16 Medicaid programs that had not sent out provider notices since late last year, urging them to conduct outreach to prescribing providers, pharmacies, and beneficiaries. That same week, NACDS joined with the Coalition for Community Pharmacy Action to fax letters to physicians notifying them of the upcoming implementation date and how to meet the requirements. A similar letter was sent to the hospital associations, urging them to notify their members that residents and on-staff physicians writing out-patient prescriptions will have comply with the mandate.

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Study of Copaxone reveals that drug is not effective for patients in treatment of ASL

BY Diana Alickaj

WASHINGTON Copaxone, a blockbuster drug manufactured by Israel’s Teva Industries, has proven to be ineffective for the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, according to the company.

Copaxone, which earned Teva $436 million in revenue, was subjected to a 366-patient Phase II trial to investigate if it was able to reduce deterioration in patients with ALS. According to published reports, the study showed that the drug, although safe, did not increase rate of survival among patients battling the disease.

ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, plagues about 10,000 people in the U.S. and Europe. ASL leads to paralysis, and those who are diagnosed are expected to live within 3-5 years experiencing weakness in limbs, twitching and respiratory impairment, as well as other painful symptoms. Copaxone was the leading therapy for multiple sclerosis in the U.S., but based on the new findings, Teva will continue to search for other options in treating the disease.

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Manitoba pharmaceutical regulator tries to end online pharmacies

BY Drew Buono

MANITOBA, Canada The Manitoba Pharmaceutical Association is attempting to put a stranglehold on the province’s Internet pharmacy business, according to CBC news. Manitoba conducts a good deal of online pharmacy business.

The association has approved a new rule that would prevent pharmacies from filling out-of-province prescriptions starting June 30. If pharmacies don’t comply with this new rule, they can have their licenses revoked.

Troy Harwood-Jones, of the Manitoba International Pharmacy Association, said that kind of rule is unheard of in other provinces, and in a recent vote, more than 70 percent of pharmacists voted against it.

In response, the province has assigned a mediator to try to work something out between the Internet pharmacies and the association. Although, Harwood-Jones said that if a deal wasn’t reached, he thought many of the 20 Internet pharmacies in the province would leave.

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