PHARMACY

NACDS responds to CMS moving up PECOS enrollment date

BY Alaric DeArment

ALEXANDRIA, Va. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores is objecting to a move by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that it said would put retail pharmacies and other suppliers at risk for service disruptions.

Last month, CMS said it would move the implementation date for physician and nonphysician practitioner enrollment in the Medicare provider enrollment, chain and ownership system, also known as PECOS, up from Jan. 3, 2011, to July 6, 2010. This could result in Medicare Part B claims being denied if a beneficiary’s physician or nonphysician practitioner is not enrolled or improperly enrolled in PECOS, according to NACDS.

“The accelerated date for PECOS enrollment may create service disruptions for Medicare Part B beneficiaries,” NACDS president and CEO Steven Anderson stated. “The new date — less than one week away — may reduce patients’ access to pharmacy-provided counseling, medical equipment and supplies — such as diabetes testing strips and monitors, canes and crutches — and [may] have negative consequences for patient health and medication adherence.”

NACDS said it worked to alert prescribers to the new date, notified congressional leaders and urged CMS to reinstate the original Jan. 3 enrollment date. “The new PECOS enrollment date poses a threat to pharmacy-provided healthcare services,” Anderson said. “NACDS members are already confronting 30% rejection rates on their Medicare Part B claims due to the fact that providers are either unaware or not properly enrolled in PECOS.”

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Teva’s generic Effexor XR receives regulatory approval

BY Alaric DeArment

SILVER SPRING, Md. The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first generic version of an extended-release antidepressant pill made by Pfizer, the agency said Tuesday.

The FDA approved Teva Pharmaceutical Industries’ venlafaxine hydrochloride extended-release capsules. The capsules are a generic version of Effexor XR, used to treat major depressive disorder. The capsules will be available in the 37.5 mg, 75 mg and 150 mg strengths.

“The approval of this widely used antidepressant is another example of the FDA’s efforts to increase access to safe and effective generic drugs,” said Keith Webber, FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research Office of Pharmaceutical Science deputy director. “Access to treatments for depression is important because depression can interfere with a person’s daily life and routine, which can significantly affect relationships with family and friends.”

Effexor products had sales of $520 million in 2009, according to Pfizer financial data.

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NACDS, NCPA back senatorial MTM bill

BY Antoinette Alexander

ALEXANDRIA, Va. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the National Community Pharmacists Association have voiced their support of the Senate medication therapy management bill, authored and introduced Tuesday by Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., as it aims to further pave the way for enhanced pharmacist-provided MTM services.

Hagan’s Medication Therapy Management Expanded Benefits Act of 2010 would enhance pharmacist-provided MTM services for Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries by opening MTM services to patients suffering from any chronic condition or disease. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., is an original co-sponsor of the bill.

"By encouraging MTM services in neighborhood pharmacies, the bill would improve public health and reduce healthcare costs by helping patients to take their medications in the right ways and avoid complications with their drug therapies," stated NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson. "Patients suffering from chronic disease, be it diabetes, hypertension, asthma or other conditions, will benefit from these pharmacy services, which also strengthen the pharmacist-patient relationship. We thank Senators Hagan and Franken for their commitment to improving health care in a way that stands to reduce costs and improve lives."

Added Douglas Hoey, NCPA acting EVP and CEO, "For many Medicare Part D patients, the challenges of coping with numerous chronic conditions and diseases require an expert’s consultation, and pharmacists are clinically trained in helping ensure their patients are getting the best possible results. The bill offered by Senators Hagan and Franken is the next logical step in broadening the reach of MTM. NCPA urges the Senate to move expeditiously to pass this bill, because true healthcare reform needs to incorporate all the best practices."

The bill is the Senate’s companion to H.R. 3108, the Medication Therapy Management Benefits Act of 2009, introduced by Rep. Mike Ross, D-Ark., last year and endorsed by NACDS and NCPA.

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