Value of Rx dominates opening session at NACDS Annual
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. The general focus Sunday morning during the opening business session at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Annual meeting was, of course, around the pressures of a recession economy — an economy that’s being increasingly likened to the Great Depression — along with the pressures associated with distinguishing retail pharmacy as a comprehensive, convenient and valuable conduit in the delivery of health care.
The question, then, is what is NACDS doing about it?
“Two years ago, this association embarked on a journey of change,” Andy Giancamilli, NACDS chairman, told attendees Sunday morning. “We do not need to reinvent NACDS. We need to continue boldly with the reinvention that we have put into motion.”
To that end, Giancamilli outlined three NACDS initiatives.
First, win public policy battles that are crucial to retail pharmacy. “We can’t just do things, we need to win things,” he emphasized.
That emphasis has netted more than $1 billion in savings to NACDS members, Giancamilli noted, through such issues as Medicaid, track-and-trace and immunizations delivered by pharmacists.
Second, NACDS needs “to tell the story of pharmacy as the face of neighborhood health care,” he said. “This is a long-term campaign.”
And finally, NACDS needs to deliver value to manufacturers and retailers alike.
“We want there to be no better forum for retailers to find new product or [suppliers] to find new [contacts],” Giancamilli said.
There’s another historical reference that harkens back to around the period of the Great Depression that holds great relevance to NACDS and its members noted Steve Anderson, NACDS president and CEO, during his state of the association address — NACDS’ second Annual meeting held in the late 1930s in White Sulfur Springs, W.Va.
“History provides enough common reference points of warning and inspiration,” Anderson said. “For today, April 19, 2009, there was May 5, 1939.”
Recalling the words of Nate Shapero, a former NACDS president who in 1939 addressed NACDS members around the challenges of that era, Anderson said, “My thoughts revolve around several basic truths … we know that the prosperity of the American people is interwoven with the prosperity of American business.”
In 1939, the prosperity unveiled by NACDS members was the prosperity inherent in a comprehensive chain retail offering — delivering consistency and convenience, and more importantly, value to the consumers shopping those formats.
Today, the prosperity inherent in retail pharmacy lies in the delivery of health care — delivering consistency and convenience, and more importantly, value to patients and payers. And similar to 1939, chain pharmacy is again under attack, Anderson said, albeit around different issues — issues like cutting pharmacy’s share of Medicaid reimbursement rates, or unfounded privacy concerns, weighing down advances in health information technology in such a way that it protects patient privacy without sacrificing functionality.
Of course, the days that pharmacy served as an easy target on Capitol Hill are over, Anderson noted, especially as NACDS is more and more taking the fight to the Hill and educating lawmakers around the value inherent in pharmacy. And when simple education isn’t enough, NACDS will take the fight to the courts, such as with the Medicaid average manufacturer’s price lawsuit that Anderson credited with saving the industry billions of dollars.
“We will fight fair, but we will fight smart and we will fight hard,” Anderson said. “We are tenacious, and I believe word is getting around.”
Vertex reports Q1 earnings
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. Vertex Pharmaceuticals ended first quarter 2009 with $869 million in cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities, the company announced Thursday.
The company is conducting a phase 3 study of telaprevir, a protease inhibitor for treating hepatitis C in patients who have not received treatment or for whom other treatments have failed. In March, Vertex started a phase 2a trial of VX-809, a compound designed to treat cystic fibrosis, and it also plans to start trials for the investigational CF drug VX-770 in the United States and Europe.
“With our strong performance in the first quarter, we are well-positioned to drive forward key programs in hepatitis C and cystic fibrosis and to deliver on our 2009 financial projections outlined earlier this year,” Vertex president Matt Emmens said. “Our top priority is to execute on the telaprevir phase 3 program and to prepare for [a new drug application] filing for telaprevir in the second half of 2010.”
Drug maker’s shares fall after HHS requests regulatory filing
NEW YORK A Department of Health and Human Services request that companies bidding on a government contract to provide anthrax vaccines give a regulatory plan to the Food and Drug Administration in 15 days caused shares of one of the companies to fall by 5.5% in afternoon trading on Friday, according to published reports.
The Associated Press reported Thursday that PharmAthene submitted a regulatory filing saying that HHS did not provide sufficient information. The HHS request caused PharmAthene’s shares to fall by 15 cents, to $2.56.
The Annapolis, Md.-based company makes the anthrax vaccine SparVax.