HEALTH

Enactment of new drug-disposal law a victory for pharmacy, NACDS says

BY Jim Frederick

WASHINGTON Enactment by the White House of a landmark, pharmacy-friendly drug-disposal bill won quick praise from chain pharmacy leaders Thursday.

 

President Obama signed the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act into law Wednesday, changing the way the Drug Enforcement Administration regulates the return and destruction of unused and unwanted higher-risk medications. The new law establishes a legal process by which consumers can return their lawfully obtained controlled substance medications to DEA-authorized entities for disposal.

 

 

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores dubbed the bill’s enactment “a victory for pro-patient, pro-community and pro-pharmacy policy.”

 

 

“Importantly, and consistent with NACDS’ urging, the bill prevents the mandating of drug take-back programs in pharmacies,” the group noted.

 

 

NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson today thanked the President and the bill’s chief supporters in Congress, including Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; Reps. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., and Bart Stupak, D-Mich.; and Texas Republicans Joe Barton and Lamar Smith. Those lawmakers, he said, “demonstrated a commitment to addressing the issue of drug disposal in a way that will not create new problems for public health and safety.

 

 

“The fact that this new law does not create a drug take-back program mandate for pharmacies means that these members of Congress listened and kept an open mind, and that deserves a great deal of recognition,” Anderson added. “NACDS remains committed to being part of the solution when it comes to advancing the safe use and safe handling of medications.”

 

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H.D. Smith subsidiary launches new website

BY Allison Cerra

WOOD DALE, Ill. Smith Medical Partners, a business focused on specialty pharmaceutical distribution and solutions, announced the launch of its new company website.

The H.D. Smith subsidiary said its new site, Smpspecialty.com, features a user-friendly platform that includes audience-specific landing pages, including relevant products and FAQs tailored for unique segments of the healthcare industry.

Additionally, the site also will feature Smith Medical Partners news, reimbursement announcements, recall postings and industry developments, as well as e-newsletters that are tailored for multiple specialty practices, placing Smith Medical Partners customers among the first to receive details on new product launches, special purchasing opportunities and program information.

“Our online visitors will now experience a more comprehensive and vibrant view of Smith Medical Partners,” said Smith Medical Partners VP David DuRoss. “We have taken a strategic approach to providing rich content in an accessible and streamlined layout.”

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Foundation for HealthSmart Consumers: New OTC reimbursement rule will be costly

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON A panel of healthcare thought leaders has concluded that a recent IRS rule change requiring a written prescription so that over-the-counter medicines can be eligible for reimbursement under flexible spending accounts will demand retail system challenges that are operationally impossible to overcome in the time frame required.

“We see this as a threat to consumer access and choice at a time when we need our citizens to be more engaged in managing their health and the cost of care,” stated Jon Comola, executive director of the Foundation for HealthSmart Consumers. Because of the new rule change, Comola said, “some consumers are likely to seek prescriptions for OTCs or alternative [prescription] drugs in order to comply with the new tax requirement.”

According to Foundation researchers, the resulting costs could reach $2.5 billion annually if office visits and lab tests are incurred by even 10% of the insured population; potential new pharmacy costs could reach $3 billion annually.

“We are concerned about the negative impact on people who are using OTCs to address health issues like smoking cessation, weight control, arthritis and allergies because of the increased tax on higher cost products,” said Jim Parker, fellow for The Foundation. “This may result in increased physician visits and potentially the prescribing of more expensive prescription drugs.”

The number of consumers who take advantage of health spending accounts is not insignificant, the Foundation added. “More than 50 million of the 195 million commercially insured consumers have healthcare accounts and will be directly affected by this new rule,” noted Roy Ramthun, president HSA Consulting.

As of Jan. 1, consumers will no longer be able to pay for most OTC medicines with funds from their flexible spending accounts and other health accounts (including HSAs and HRAs) unless the OTCs are “prescribed.” Retailers already are taking steps to warn shoppers of the new restrictions on purchases of OTC medicines using funds from their healthcare accounts.

This rule change, enacted as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, is intended to help fund increases in healthcare spending in other parts of the bill.

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