PHARMACY

CVS Caremark lands PBM contract with FEP

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — In a major win for its pharmacy benefit management business, CVS Caremark will handle the $3 billion mail-order and specialty prescription drug benefit for the Federal Employee Program starting January 2012, which, for the last three years, had been handled by rival Medco Health Solutions.

"We are very gratified that FEP has recognized that CVS Caremark’s unique integrated model for pharmacy care provides the best overall value and offers their plan members innovative, cost-effective pharmacy benefit management services that improve health outcomes," said Larry Merlo, CVS Caremark president and CEO, in a company statement announcing the news.

CVS Caremark will continue to provide FEP’s clinical programs and retail PBM services, and also will provide mail-order pharmacy services and specialty pharmacy services to FEP’s more than 5 million federal employees, retirees and dependents.

CVS Caremark has been administering FEP’s retail PBM program since 1993 and the contract most recently had been extended through the end of 2011. The new agreement, which runs through 2014, brings the relationship between CVS Caremark and FEP to more than 20 years.

"FEP is a highly valued client and we are committed to continuing to deliver the same high level of service and patient satisfaction that we have provided to FEP’s federal employees, retirees and their families for many years," stated Per Lofberg, president of CVS Caremark’s PBM business.

Many industry observers viewed the news as a major win for CVS Caremark and following the announcement, Citi Investment Research analyst Deborah Weinswig kept a "Buy" rating on the stock and boosted her target to $46 per share from $41.

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PHARMACY

House passes Defense Authorization bill; Tricare Prime fees to increase

BY Michael Johnsen

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The House of Representatives last week passed the FY2012 Defense Authorization bill by a vote of 322 to 96. The bill includes a small increase in the Tricare Prime fee, the American Society of Military Comptrollers noted in a statement, but caps future increases at no more than the cost-of-living adjustment.

The bill does not include a freeze on co-payments for retail prescription drugs for Tricare patients, however, which had been a provision included in previous years. Without the freeze, the Department of Defense is free to move forward with its proposal to create further incentives to drive Tricare beneficiaries to use mail order.

“We certainly understand the need to reduce Tricare costs,” National Association of Chain Drug Stores president and CEO Steve Anderson and National Community Pharmacists Association EVP and CEO Douglas Hoey said in a joint statement. “Further penalizing Tricare patients who use their community pharmacy is not the most effective way to reduce prescription drug spending in the program.

The two retail pharmacy associations instead advocated increasing the generic drug dispensing rate, noting that the dispensing rate across community pharmacies typically is higher than that at a mail-order pharmacy.

The Senate will take up the bill this summer.

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Dificid gets nod as CDAD treatment

BY Alaric DeArment

SILVER SPRING, Md. — The Food and Drug Administration has approved a treatment for diarrhea caused by a bacterial infection.

The agency announced the approval of Optimer Pharmaceuticals’ Dificid (fidaxomicin) tablets for the treatment of Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea, also known as CDAD.

Clostridium difficile can cause diarrhea and lead to colitis, as well as other serious intestinal diseases and, in severe cases, death. The bacteria are spread by people touching items or surfaces contaminated with the bacteria or spores and then touching their mouths.

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