PHARMACY

Update: House votes overwhelmingly in favor of Medicare bill

BY Adam Kraemer

WASHINGTON The House of Representatives voted early Tuesday afternoon in favor of H.R. 6331, the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008.

Although the vote was not expected to take place until later in the day, House Democratic Leadership called for a recorded vote on the bill soon after 12:00 p.m., and it passed by an overwhelming vote of 355-59 (with 129 Republicans voting for final passage and only 59 voting against). 

Pharmacy advocacy groups have lobbied tirelessly for the passage of the bill, which would, among other provisions, speed up the reimbursements for Medicare Part D claims, delay cuts to Medicaid generic prescription drug reimbursement and delay institution of the Medicare durable medical equipment, prosthetics and supplies competitive bidding program, which the groups claim is flawed.

“The bill strengthens patient access to the valuable services the nation’s 23,000 independent community pharmacies provide patients by addressing three fundamental problems,” stated Bruce Roberts, executive vice president and chief executive officer of the National Community Pharmacists Association.

In a letter sent to House leaders earlier in the day, Steve Anderson, president and chief executive officer of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores stated: “By delaying billions in Medicaid payment cuts to retail pharmacies—the so-called AMP cuts—your bill will prevent pharmacies from facing the untenable situation of having to accept below cost payments when serving low income patients.”

The NACDS also praised the provision in the bill instituting a program of electronic prescribing in Medicare. “The bill will greatly improve efficiencies and reduce medical errors in our nation’s health care system. NACDS has been a strong advocate of e-prescribing for years, having fought for the eprescribing provisions in the Medicare Modernization Act (MMA). Medicare beneficiaries deserve the most up-to-date health care practices and technologies available, and e-prescribing is one clear way to vastly improve and modernize the Medicare program.” 

H.R. 6331 closely resembles S. 3101, which failed to receive enough votes last week to achieve cloture, prompting a call from pharmacy groups for increased bipartisan cooperation.

Following the House vote, Anderson commented, “We are delighted by the size of the vote, which demonstrates tremendous bipartisan support.  It reflects the realization that this bill is important to healthcare and the nation’s economy.”  

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FDA requests delay on Merck application for cholesterol drugs

BY Alaric DeArment

BOSTON The Food and Drug Administration has recommended that Merck wait until it finishes clinical trials of the cholesterol drugs MK-0524A and MK-0524B before re-filing a marketing application for them, Merck announced Friday.

The FDA rejected Merck’s application for the two drugs in April, and the FDA has advised that it should wait until it receives results from the clinical trial before re-filing.

MK-0524A is a combination of the drug Cordaptive and niacin; MK-0524B combines those ingredients with Zocor. Merck has said it does not plan to seek approval for MK-0524B until it completes the application for MK-0524A.

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Adheris’ Glaser dies at 53

BY DSN STAFF

BURLINGTON, Mass. Matthew Glaser, 53, senior vice president of Professional Services for Adheris, passed away from cancer this past Saturday.

Glaser was a respected leader in the retail pharmacy industry who spent over 30 years working in community, chain, hospital and institutional pharmacy settings. Since 1996, he had dedicated his experience and skills to growing Adheris from a start-up to a leading provider of pharmacy-based patient education and adherence programs. At Adheris, he worked with chain and independent pharmacies, ensuring the delivery of appropriate compliance and adherence programs to their patients.

Prior to his tenure at Adheris, Glaser served as vice president of Pharmacy and Professional Affairs for Brooks Pharmacy, and as assistant vice president of Professional Services and vice president of Managed Care at Hook-SupeRx. Earlier in his career, he spent several years serving in various management positions at CVS.

Glaser held a Bachelor of Science degree in Pharmacy from Northeastern University.

Glaser is survived by his four children; his mother and several siblings and nieces and nephews. Memorial contributions may be made in his memory to the Matthew P. Glaser Memorial Scholarship Fund at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy, Office of Advancement at 179 Longwood Ave., Boston, MA 02115.

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