White House continues health IT drive as CMS offers matching funds to states
WASHINGTON More money is flowing from the federal stimulus coffers to states as the White House continues its push to drive the healthcare system’s massive transformation to a digital and information technology-based platform.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is releasing another $6.9 million in federal matching funds for the effort, according to a report from the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society. The money is going to four states –– Hawaii, Massachusetts, North Dakota and Ohio –– to help pay for a conversion to electronic health records by Medicaid providers in those states, according to the society’s online newsletter, Government Health IT.
Similar matching grant programs already have gone to some other states –– including Delaware, Connecticut and West Virginia –– in line with the Obama administration’s plan to propel the nationwide adoption of health IT with some $20 billion in stimulus funds. According to the report, CMS is providing as much as 90% of the funds needed by state Medicaid administrators to provide incentive payments under the HITECH Act. States also can use some of the money to track the conversion to health IT, Government Health IT reported.
FDA advisory committees forgo restricting cough-cold sales, CHPA responds
WASHINGTON A pair of Food and Drug Administration advisory committees on Tuesday evening recommended that the FDA not place greater sales restrictions on the sale of dextromethorphan by placing the ingredient on the controlled substances schedule. The panel of FDA advisers voted to not schedule DXM by a vote of 15-9.
"Today’s FDA advisory committee decision not to recommend scheduling [over-the-counter] cough medicines containing dextromethorphan as a controlled substance reflects a sound balancing of the benefits of over-the-counter medicines containing dextromethorphan,” the Consumer Healthcare Products Association stated in a release following the decision. “Because of cough’s widespread prevalence and effects, it’s vital for people to have OTC access to safe and effective self-treatment. Dextromethorphan is in nearly 90% of OTC cough suppressants sold today,” the statement read.
"We do, however, recognize the need for continued education to keep any abuse levels low,” the CHPA added. “We also have long called for federal legislation that would limit purchases of bulk quantities of dextromethorphan to manufacturers who are registered with FDA. We believe that a statutory ban on sales of dextromethorphan medicines to those under 18 [years of age] would limit abuse.”
H.D. Smith signs prime vendor agreement with U.S.-based Nigerian pharmacy group
CINCINNATI and SPRINGFIELD, Ill. A large group of Nigerian-owned independent retailers has struck a new, three-year prime vendor agreement with H.D. Smith, a leading national pharmaceutical wholesaler.
H.D. Smith and the Nigerian Association of Pharmacists and Pharmaceutical Scientists in America said the deal would bolster both groups. Under terms of the contract, H.D. Smith will become the primary supplier of pharmaceutical products for the more than 100 U.S. pharmacies that are NAPPSA members. The supply agreement begins immediately and extends through June 30, 2013.
“We are excited and proud of this accomplishment, and hope it is only the beginning of more to come,” said NAPPSA Nnodum Iheme. “Since success breeds success, we anticipate more Nigerian-owned pharmacies to join or partner with NAPPSA.”
H.D. Smith chairman and CEO Dale Smith also expressed satisfaction with the agreement. “The decision to select a primary vendor does not come lightly and demands close inspection of services, programs and reputation,” Smith said. “We seek to enhance NAPPSA members’ success.”
NAPPSA is an umbrella organization of Nigerian pharmacists, pharmaceutical scientists, allied scientists and academics in the Americas. “Among other objectives, NAPPSA fosters cooperative efforts among relevant educational, research, industrial, commercial and governmental entities; propagates critical information in the medical, biological, pharmaceutical and related healthcare-technology fields, for the optimization of health outcomes,” the group noted in a statement.
H.D. Smith markets itself as “the largest privately held national full-line, full-service wholesaler that provides a complete line of pharmaceuticals, OTCs, HBAs, home healthcare products, durable medical equipment, seasonal merchandise and a wide array of marketing programs to retail pharmacies, regional chains and health systems.”