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Diplomacy works: Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy among companies laying groundwork for growth

BY Alaric DeArment

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — The city of Flint, Mich., is probably most famous for two things: being the birthplace of General Motors and the prolonged economic decline that followed the automaker’s departure from the city.

But Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy is looking to reverse that trend. Despite starting out as a single store owned by CEO Phil Hagerman and his father, the privately owned company has grown to be so big that it now has a swanky new headquarters and is well on its way to having 800 employees.

(THE NEWS: Diplomat CEO to attend White House business summit. For the full story, click here)

The secret to the company’s success is the quality of service it delivers to patients, especially in terms of patient assistance. And the result is strong growth and lots of job creation.

The employment numbers released last week were far from spectacular — they were disappointing and likely to keep more than a few people up at night. But what may be a slump that’s part of a global economic downturn stretching from here to Europe to Asia or just a hiccup resulting from an unseasonably warm winter — that’s ultimately up to economists to determine — doesn’t belie the fact that something is stirring in the American economy, specifically the groundwork for sustainable economic growth, and it’s business leaders like Hagerman and companies like Diplomat that are laying it and leading it.

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Ad agency Neiman to rep E.P.T., Monistat, Sucrets and Anacin

BY Michael Johnsen

PHILADELPHIA — Insight Pharmaceuticals recently selected Neiman as creative partner for its portfolio of over-the-counter women’s health and personal care brands, the ad agency announced Tuesday.

“Insight wanted a creative partner who could help them to create purposeful conversations with each of their brands’ consumers,” stated Neiman president Amy Muntz. “That’s the kind of client and assignment that great agencies crave, and it’s an honor to have won.”

Insight Pharmaceuticals’ brands include E.P.T., Monistat, Sucrets and Anacin, among others. 


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Pharmacy groups oppose hydrocodone amendment to PDUFA bill

BY Michael Johnsen

ALEXANDRIA,Va. — Five pharmacy organizations on Thursday wrote Congress in opposition of an amendment to the Food and Drug Administration Safety Innovation Act due to its potential to delay patients’ timely relief from chronic pain while increasing drug costs.
 
The letter from the American Pharmacists Association, Food Marketing Institute, International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists, National Association of Chain Drug Stores and National Community Pharmacists Association was sent to every U.S. senator and representative. At issue is an amendment by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., which changes the classification of common, hydrocodone-containing pain relief products from Schedule III to the more-restrictive Schedule II under the Controlled Substances Act.
 
“We understand the concerns about diversion and abuse of these products and we share these concerns,” the groups wrote in their letter. “Nevertheless, moving all of these hydrocodone products to Schedule II will result in significant barriers for patients who have a legitimate need for these products, and it will result in adding to the nation’s healthcare costs with no assurance of a reduction in diversion and abuse.”
 
Compared to Schedule III and other prescription drugs, Schedule II medications cannot be prescribed as easily by physicians (and in some states, nurse practitioners) and are more costly for pharmacies to obtain, stock and dispense due to government requirements. Opposition to the Manchin amendment centers around two primary issues: its impact on patient care and the pharmacy’s cost of dispensing.
 
First, the quality of life of patients suffering from chronic pain, particularly long-term care patients, is at risk should the amendment become law. For example, prescribers could no longer phone in prescriptions for these products to pharmacies; electronic prescribing of Schedule II medicines is illegal in some states; and these prescriptions cannot be refilled.
 
Second, higher pharmacy dispensing costs would result from the amendment, including significantly higher administrative costs, due to record-keeping, inventory management and storage requirements. For instance, most pharmacies would need larger safes to store the dozens of different dosage forms and strengths of the products covered by the amendment. Some states require that pharmacies do a perpetual inventory count of Schedule II products on a pill-by-pill basis. Such costs will ultimately be borne by all patients and health plan sponsors.
 
With a compressed time frame to pass the Prescription Drug User Fee Act re-authorization legislation, Sen. Manchin’s amendment was incorporated without much deliberation into the legislation that passed the Senate on May 24, 2012. The House of Representatives passed their version of the PDUFA bill on May 30. Lawmakers are expected to reconcile differences between the Senate and House bills shortly.
 
An NCPA survey of more than 250 community pharmacists conducted May 25 to 29 backs up the pharmacy groups’ concerns regarding the amendment. Survey participants overwhelmingly indicated that the proposal would likely delay prescribing and dispensing of these medicines, resulting in needless suffering for patients afflicted by chronic pain, particularly in nursing homes and other long-term care settings. In addition, to satisfy the more stringent Schedule II conditions, community pharmacists surveyed said they would have to extend staff pharmacist hours, in some cases hire additional pharmacists, and install larger safes.

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