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California bans single-use plastic bags

BY Marianne Wilson

NEW YORK — California Governor Jerry Brown on Tuesday signed legislation for the nation's first statewide ban on single-use plastic bags at supermarkets, drug stores and select other retail outlets.
 
"This bill is a step in the right direction — it reduces the torrent of plastic polluting our beaches, parks and even the vast ocean itself," Brown said in a signing statement. "We're the first to ban these bags, and we won't be the last."
 
The new law will be phased in, and goes into effect for large grocery stores, including Walmart and Target, and pharmacies beginning July 1, 2015. It will extend to convenience stores and liquor stores July 1, 2016. The law does not apply to bags used for fruits, vegetables or meats, or to shopping bags used at other retailers
 
Under the law, stores will be required to offer customers recycled paper bags or bags made of compostable material at a cost of at least 10 cents.
 
Shortly after the bill was signed, a coalition of plastic bag manufacturers, the American Progressive Bag Alliance, said it would start seeking votes as it works to overturn the law via a referendum on the 2016 ballot.
 
“Our research confirms that the vast majority of California voters are opposed to legislation that bans recyclable plastic bags and allows grocers to charge and keep fees on other bags,” the organization said in a release.
 
Several cities, including San Francisco, and municipalities already have similar laws on the books. Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey are all considering imposing a tax on plastic bags that customers would have to pay, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
 

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Express Scripts’ two national 2015 Express Scripts Medicare Prescription Drug Plans will include Walgreens

BY Michael Johnsen

ST. LOUIS — Express Scripts on Wednesday announced that its two nationally available 2015 Express Scripts Medicare Prescription Drug Plans will offer a preferred retail pharmacy network featuring Walgreens.

 
Medicare beneficiaries who enroll in the Express Scripts Medicare Value or Choice plans for 2015 can save significantly — with $0 or $1 copayments, respectively, for Tier 1 generic medications — when using one of the more than 27,000 pharmacies in the plans' preferred retail network. The network includes approximately 8,200 Walgreens pharmacies nationwide and more than 18,500 community pharmacies. The preferred pharmacy network also offers reduced copayments for Tier 2 generics, preferred and non-preferred brand name medications.
 
"Express Scripts Medicare Part D plans – which consistently earn high Star Ratings from Medicare – offer seniors customized support to help them stay healthy and make the most of their benefit," stated Mike Looney, VP Medicare prescription drug plans, Express Scripts. "We offer 24/7 access to Medicare advisors who can help enrollees save money on their medications and delay reaching the Coverage Gap, and pharmacists who are always available to answer questions about medications from the privacy of the beneficiary's home. Most importantly, enrollees have access to Express Scripts specialist pharmacists, who have expertise in the medications that treat conditions most common among seniors, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and can offer personalized clinical support and care."
 
"Together, Walgreens and Express Scripts have extensive experience serving the health care needs of Medicare beneficiaries, and this is another way we can help them get the most value from their Part D plan," added Kermit Crawford, Walgreens president of pharmacy, health and wellness. "By serving as a preferred network provider, Walgreens can offer plan members greater access to pharmacy services, cost savings opportunities and personalized care from our more than 27,000 pharmacists."
 
Enrollment for the 2015 plan year begins Oct. 15, 2014, and ends Dec. 7, 2014 with coverage beginning on Jan. 1, 2015. Both the Choice and Value plans offer coverage for more than 3,000 medications and are offered in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
 

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Ranbaxy launches acne treatment Absorica

BY Michael Johnsen

PRINCETON, N.J. — Ranbaxy Labs on Wednesday announced the launch of Absorica (isotretinoin) 25 mg and 35 mg capsules into the U.S. healthcare market. 
 
Absorica has become the most prescribed branded oral isotretinoin in the United States, as per a recent independent survey conducted with dermatologists. The product is licensed by Ranbaxy from Cipher Pharmaceuticals and is indicated for the treatment of severe recalcitrant nodular acne in patients 12 years of age and older.
 
Due to its high lipophilicity, oral absorption of isotretinoin is enhanced when given with a high-fat meal, however, Absorica, which is formulated using patented Lidose technology, can be given without regards to meals. The fasted AUC0-t of Absorica is approximately 83% greater than that of Accutane, while both products are bioequivalent under federal conditions. Absorica is therefore not interchangeable and not substitutable with generic products of Accutane.
 
"Since isotretinoin dosing is weight-based, we are most pleased to make available these valuable, additional dosing options exclusively for Absorica," stated Ashish Anvekar, VP Brand Division North America at Ranbaxy. "This will give prescribers the enhanced flexibility to tailor the isotretinoin therapy, depending on the patient's weight, and benefit the group of patients who are in that weight range, irrespective of their dietary intake."
 

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