PHARMACY

Theranos dealt severe blow by CMS

BY Michael Johnsen

PALO ALTO, Calif. — Less than one month following Walgreens decision to terminate its relationship with Theranos, the blood-testing lab on Thursday announced that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has revoked the company's CLIA certificate, among other sanctions. The revocation of Theranos' CLIA certificate precludes the owners and operators of Theranos from owning, operating or directing a lab until at least July 2018.

“We accept full responsibility for the issues at our laboratory in Newark, Calif., and have already worked to undertake comprehensive remedial actions," stated Elizabeth Holmes, CEO Theranos. "Those actions include shutting down and subsequently rebuilding the Newark lab from the ground up, rebuilding quality systems, adding highly experienced leadership, personnel and experts, and implementing enhanced quality and training procedures,” she said. “While we are disappointed by CMS’ decision, we take these matters very seriously and are committed to fully resolving all outstanding issues with CMS and to demonstrating our dedication to the highest standards of quality and compliance.”

In addition to the revocation of Theranos' CLIA certificate, the full list of CMS sanctions include:

  • Limitation of the laboratory’s CLIA certificate for the specialty of hematology;
  • A civil money penalty;
  • A directed portion of a plan of correction;
  • Suspension of the laboratory’s approval to receive Medicare and Medicaid payments for any services performed for the specialty of hematology; and
  • Cancellation of the laboratory’s approval to receive Medicare and Medicaid payments for all laboratory services.

While the revocation would not take effect for 60 days, the company will not conduct any patient testing in the Newark lab until further notice, Theranos announced. During this period, the company will continue to work with CMS to resolve and remediate outstanding issues in the Newark lab, and will continue to provide services to its customers through its Arizona lab, Theranos stated.

Walgreens last month ended its relationship with Theranos. “In light of the voiding of a number of test results, and as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has rejected Theranos’ plan of correction and considers sanctions, we have carefully considered our relationship with Theranos and believe it is in our customers’ best interests to terminate our partnership,” stated Brad Fluegel, Walgreens SVP and chief health care commercial market development officer, at the time of the decision.

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IPC announces winners of nine pharmacy student scholarships

BY Vivian Lee

SUN PRAIRIE, Wis. — Independent Pharmacy Cooperative (IPC) today announced the nine recipients of this year's pharmacy student scholarships. Each winner has been awarded a $1,500 scholarship, totaling $13,500 in IPC future independent pharmacy support.

The winners are:

  • Kristen Glover Belew, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Pharmacy
  • Derek Borkowski, University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy
  • Kimberly Bucher, South Carolina College of Pharmacy
  • Melinda Chappell, University of New Mexico College of Pharmacy
  • Taylor Engelhart, Northeast Ohio Medical University — College of Pharmacy
  • Jonathan Pin, University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy
  • Rahim Pirani, University of Illinois at Chicago — College of Pharmacy
  • Brooklyn Pruett, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Pharmacy
  • Yazmin Quijano-Gonzalez, University of New Mexico College of Pharmacy

IPC hosted and sponsored 54 students from 12 universities at the sixth annual IPC Independent Pharmacy Conference held in Santa Ana Pueblo, N.M., April 28-May 1, 2016. The event presented students with opportunities to learn about what an independent pharmacy business entails and network with successful store owners, industry experts and pharmacy vendors, as well as IPC staff.

“One of Independent Pharmacy Cooperative’s foremost goals is to inspire the next generation of independent pharmacy owners,” IPC president and CEO Don Anderson said. “At IPC’s conference attending students learned more about independent pharmacy and why it is a financially and emotionally beneficial career path.”

The winners were chosen based on an essay competition regarding their IPC conference experiences. McKesson contributes matching funds for the scholarship program.

IPC has awarded nearly $70,000 in support of future community pharmacists since 2011, with 48 scholarships distributed. To date IPC sponsored 248 student conference attendees hailing from universities across the United States. The seventh annual Independent Pharmacy Conference will take place April 6-9, in Scottsdale, Ariz.

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Fred’s dip in pharmacy sales brings down bottom line in June

BY David Salazar
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Fred’s on Thursday reported its June sales figures, posting a 2.3% decrease in total sales for the five weeks ended July 2, totaling $208.5 million, compared to last June’s $213.3 million. Comparable store sales also saw a drop of 1.3%, where last June there was a 1.6% rise. 
 
The company’s total sales for the first five months of FY2016, however, are showing a 3.8% increase over the same period last year, posting $923.2 million in total sales. Year-to-date comps grew by 0.1%, compared to a 0.8% increase for the period last year. 
 
Commenting on the numbers, Fred’s CEO Jerry Shore noted that the front-store performance in June was strong, due largely to growth in health and beauty, seasonal merchandise, apparel, toys, lawn and garden and electronics. Shore said the company continues to face challenges when it comes to paper, chemicals and food. But the biggest thing Shore identified as curbing front-store sales is pharmacy. 
 
“Lower pharmacy sales reflected the industry-wide slowdown in specialty pharmacy sales attributable to the demand for Hepatitis C drugs as well as a decline in retail sales and scripts, which underscored calendar shifts that benefited May to the detriment of June,” Shore said, noting that the company hopes to expand high-margin offerings and turn around weak categories by the end of Q3, while looking forward in pharmacy. 
 
“We expect the retail pharmacy department will remain resilient as our labor management program continues to have a positive impact on our cost to fill,” Shore said. “Additionally, the pressured Hepatitis C segment should benefit from new Hepatitis C drugs being introduced in July as well as longer-term company strategies to expand additional therapies.”
 
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