PHARMACY

Aetna sues Express Scripts over specialty pharmacy

BY Drew Buono

PHILADELPHIA Last month, in the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, Aetna filed a lawsuit accusing Express Scripts of “knowing, malicious, willful, deliberate and bad faith misrepresentations and outrageous misconduct” in allegedly interfering with pacts between Aetna and Priority Healthcare in the specialty pharmacy market, according to the Associated Press.

Express Scripts acquired Priority Healthcare in 2005, the year after Aetna and Priority had joined together to start a specialty pharmacy venture, Aetna Specialty Pharmacy. After Express Scripts acquired Priority, Aetna exercised its option to buy out Priority’s stake in the joint venture for $75 million, making Aetna Specialty Pharmacy a subsidiary of the health insurer.

Now, Aetna is looking to recover that $75 million plus punitive damages and injunctive relief to make Express Scripts honor the original agreement between Priority and Aetna.

Aetna alleges that Express Scripts, by violating the law and the agreements for the Aetna-Priority joint venture, has “gained an unfair competitive advantage” that precludes the health insurer and its specialty pharmacy business from “prospective advantageous relationships and markets.” Among its claims, Aetna says that its special pharmacy business has been wrongly denied access to certain limited-availability drugs, which has limited its opportunities to develop new markets.

Aetna also alleges that even before the pharmacy benefits manager announced its acquisition of Priority Healthcare in 2005, Express Scripts aimed to injure or destroy Aetna’s efforts to establish a “best of class,” standalone, independent specialty pharmaceutical business by depriving it of best-pricing guarantees in Aetna’s joint-venture agreements with Priority and the benefit of Priority’s supplier and vendor contracts.

Express Scripts has not yet filed a response.

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Boom in pharmacy openings leads to shortage of pharmacists

BY Drew Buono

ALEXANDRIA, Va. and ST. LOUIS, Ill. Pharmacies are booming in business and as a result new stores are being built at a rapid pace, so much so that there aren’t enough pharmacists to fill the new job openings, according to published reports.

According to the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, there were 3,600 full-time openings for pharmacists throughout the nation last year reported by 37,000 member stores.

The reasons for the shortage, according to the National Community Pharmacists Association, are changes in insurance policies and federal regulations, which have made drugs more available to people. Also, the number of prescriptions being dispensed has grown from 2 billion to 3.2 billion in the last decade.

In Illinois, the state is trying to solve the shortage by opening more pharmacy schools. “I think a lot of new schools coming on board here will help alleviate the problem,” Phil Medon, dean of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville School of Pharmacy, said. “We haven’t had any graduates, yet, but long-term expansion at existing schools—plus new schools—are designed to help alleviate the shortage.”

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MTBC receives Microsoft partner honor

BY Drew Buono

SOMERSET, N.J. MTBC, an information technology company has received the distinguished Gold Certified Partner status in the Microsoft Partner Program. The company focuses on revenue cycle management and electronic medical record solutions.

As a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, MTBC has demonstrated expertise with Microsoft technologies and platforms. MTBC’s IT staff has successfully completed a series of examinations demonstrating the company’s competency and aptitude in utilizing and delivering Microsoft’s advanced technologies. MTBC gains access to a rich set of tools designed to help its physician clients realize improved billing and practice management solutions.

“We are very pleased to have attained Microsoft Gold Certified Partner status,” said David Rosenblum, president of MTBC. “Our Microsoft gold certification further distinguishes us from our competition. It will assist us as continue to leverage technology and deliver Internet-based revenue cycle and practice management services that enable medical providers to streamline and increase collections, while reducing associated costs.”

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