PHARMACY

Missouri legislator proposes moving PSE Rx-only

BY Drug Store News Team

Issue: How do you stop meth addicts from circumventing current pseudoephedrine purchase restrictions by buying their respective PSE limits across several area pharmacies, a practice that’s been dubbed “group smurfing”? Answer: Create an electronic real-time logbook database so that law enforcement can catch these “smurfers” in the act.

Or, if you’re in Missouri, you can take the cost associated with creating such a database and shift that cost right onto the backs of your constituents, by requiring them to get a prescription for PSE first. That’s really what the Missouri legislator is proposing. Rep. Jeff Roorda, D-Barnhart, who sponsored the bill in the House, even said as much. The prescription requirement would prevent the state from "dumping money into a database that we don’t know will work,” he said, according to published reports.

The bigger issue is appropriate access to healthcare. Reverse-switching PSE limits that access — and forces consumers to go through the added hassle of making a doctor’s appointment, taking time off from work to see that doctor, and filling a prescription for PSE, all within the seven days the average cold lasts. To be sure, PSE isn’t the only cough-and-cold relieving ingredient in town. But while there are other options on the shelf, there are also consumers who are loyal to their PSE products. And it’s these consumers who would pay the price. And if not them, then their healthcare payors. How much more would it cost to treat a Medicaid recipient with prescription PSE versus maintaining their ability to buy that product from their pharmacist?

On the other hand, the electronic logbook solution — incidentally, Missouri lawmakers authorized a statewide electronic monitoring system for PSE-based drugs last year, it just hasn’t been funded yet — is not necessarily a panacea. The cost associated with becoming a part of such a database could be prohibitive, especially if that cost is actually borne by retailers. That cost is compounded for national retailers, who might have to conform to disparate systems across state lines. There is also a concern that pharmacy personnel might be placed in danger if they’re required to refuse a PSE sale because their customer reached their limit at the pharmacy down the street five minutes ago. Meth addicts, after all, aren’t the most law-abiding citizens and might be prone to violence.

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PHARMACY

Three patients using psoriasis drug developed deadly infection, FDA says

BY Alaric DeArment

ROCKVILLE, Md. Three patients, and possibly one more, using a biotech drug for treating psoriasis developed a deadly viral infection of the brain, according to a Food and Drug Administration advisory.

The FDA said Thursday that three patients taking Genentech’s drug Raptiva (efalizumab) for more than three years developed progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy and died. One more may have developed the disease. None were receiving other treatments that suppress the immune system. 

In October, the labeling for Raptiva was revised to highlight in a boxed warning the risks of dangerous infections, including PML. The drug works by suppressing T-cells. 

PML results from an opportunistic infection by the JC virus, causing irreversible decline in brain function and death in people with severely weakened immune systems. According to the National Institutes of Health, most people carry the JC virus, though it is harmless to those with healthy immune systems. 

The agency is reviewing the reports and has said it will ensure that the risks of Raptiva do not outweigh its benefits, that patients receiving the drug are clearly informed of the signs and symptoms of PML and that healthcare professionals carefully monitor patients for possible development of the disease. 

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NACDS chairman Giancamilli urges Canadian retailers to unify

BY Jim Frederick

TORONTO In a deft display of cross-border diplomacy, National Association of Chain Drug Stores chairman Andy Giancamilli today made common cause with Canadian pharmacy operators while urging them to adopt some of the same grassroots lobbying strategies now wielded by their American counterparts.

Giancamilli, the Kmart and Perry Drug Stores veteran who is CEO of Canada’s largest drug store network, Katz Group North America, and its U.S. subsidiary, Minnesota-based Snyder’s Drug Stores, is no stranger to pharmacy and general merchandise retailing on either side of the border. Addressing the Canadian Association of Chain Drug Stores’ Chain Drug Conference 2009 here this morning, he made good use of that dual-country perspective.

“It’s worth the dialogue to consider how each country can improve the health care of its citizens. And each country can learn from each other,” Giancamilli told CACDS members in an appearance that coincided with Pres. Barack Obama’s first trip to Canada since his inauguration last month.

Recapping the state of pharmacy retailing in the U.S., NACDS’ chairman told conference-goers that their American counterparts are staging an increasingly coordinated battle to educate policymakers and lawmakers on retail pharmacy’s concerns — and to win their support for pharmacy-friendly legislation and regulations.

“We are encouraging NACDS members to be the face of pharmacy in the minds of lawmakers,” Giancamilli said. “Just this month, NACDS launched RxIMPACT. This is the brand name for everything we do in the area of pharmacy tours for legislators, helping NACDS members write to their elected officials, arranging Congressional meetings for NACDS members in Washington DC, and more.

“RxIMPACT is the way for NACDS and allies to take a stand for better healthcare in a very personal way,” Giancamilli added. “Humbly, I would propose that CACDS and all provincial pharmacists’ associations replicate parts of RxIMPACT here.”

The chain pharmacy veteran said pharmacy owner/operators in Canada could benefit if they “engage more dialog with members of Parliament” through “grassroots communications and mobilization.”

Giancamilli acknowledged the global economic meltdown now dogging retailers on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border, but reminded his listeners of some advice from Pres. John F. Kennedy. “When uncertainty and crisis appear, the words of President John F. Kennedy are many times cited,” Giancamilli said. “He said, ‘The Chinese use two brush strokes to write ‘crisis.’ One brush stroke for danger, the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger, but recognize the opportunity.’

“That’s what were are here to do, and I say let’s go!” Giancamilli added.

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