Affordable Care Act helped seniors, people with disabilities save more than $3 billion on Rxs
WASHINGTON — More than 5.1 million seniors and people with disabilities on Medicare saved billions on prescription drugs, thanks to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, according to Department of Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
New data found that these individuals saved more than $3.2 billion on prescription drugs, while savings for seniors included a one-time $250 rebate check to those who hit the "donut hole" coverage gap in 2010 and a 50% discount on covered brand-name drugs in the donut hole in 2011.
"Without the healthcare law, more than 5.1 million seniors would have faced $3.2 billion in higher drug costs," Secretary Sebelius said. "As we move forward, seniors will save even more as the new law completely eliminates the Medicare donut hole."
Meanwhile, about 103,000 seniors and people with disabilities saved $93 million in the donut hole through the first two months of 2012, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. This year, Medicare beneficiaries will receive a 50% discount from manufacturers on covered brand-name drugs and a 14% savings on generic drugs in the donut hole, according to HHS and CMS, which noted that The Affordable Care Act expands these discounts over time until the donut hole is closed in 2020.
"Already this year, tens of thousands of seniors and people with disabilities are starting to see increased savings as they enter the donut hole," CMS acting administrator Marilyn Tavenner said. "The Affordable Care Act has made prescription drugs more affordable for Medicare beneficiaries, protecting the health and pocketbooks of millions of America’s seniors."
Watson challenges Abbott patent on Niaspan
PARSIPPANY, N.J. — Watson Pharmaceuticals is challenging the patent protection on a drug made by Abbott for treating cholesterol, the company said.
Watson, through a subsidiary, filed with the Food and Drug Administration for approval of niacin extended-release tablets in the 500-mg and 1,000-mg strengths. The drug is a generic version of Abbott’s Niaspan.
Abbott filed a lawsuit against Watson Friday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware to try and prevent Watson from commercializing its drug before the expiration of two of Abbott’s patents, set to take place in May 2017 and March 2018, according to the FDA. Under the Hatch-Waxman Act of 1984, the law that created an abbreviated approval pathway for generic pharmaceuticals, the lawsuit puts a stay of final FDA approval on Watson’s drug that will last for 30 months or until the two companies reach a settlement.
Niaspan had sales of about $1.2 billion during the 12-month period ended in January, according to IMS Health.
NCPA applauds local pharmacist for participation in Dispose My Meds
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The National Community Pharmacists Association has applauded a member of its organization for participating in the organization’s drug disposal program.
Pharmacy owner and NCPA member John McDonald, who operates Marra’s Pharmacy in Cohoes, N.Y., collected $30,000 of mail-order waste as part of NCPA’s Dispose My Meds, a program launched in 2010 that includes participation from 1,400 independent community pharmacies nationwide and aims to reduce the improper disposal of unused medications. McDonald’s collection, which was highlighted in an Albany CBS 6 affiliate news report, included pills, insulin, insulin strips and more than 50 boxes of nasal spray.
The organization said McDonald’s collection reflects an example in the NCPA report “Waste Not, Want Not,” which documented the problem of medication waste associated with mail-order pharmacies.
“The wasteful healthcare spending identified by John McDonald and CBS 6 may be a shocking and extreme case, but is indicative of a problem that is all too common and real,” NCPA president and Pharmacy Providers of Oklahoma executive director and CEO Lonny Wilson said. “This case illustrates two important points. First, it is essential that health plan sponsors preserve the patients’ freedom to choose a pharmacy provider. The face-to-face, patient-pharmacist interaction in a community pharmacy improves health outcomes and prevents the waste identified in this news report that is associated with ‘auto-shipping’ mail order programs. Second, community pharmacies can help patients discard their unused or expired medication in an environmentally responsible fashion through programs such as the NCPA Dispose My Meds initiative.”