PHARMACY

FDA approves Actavis drug for opioid dependence

BY Alaric DeArment

PARSIPPANY, N.J. — The Food and Drug Administration has approved a drug for opioid dependence made by Actavis, the company said.

Actavis announced the approval of buprenorphine hydrochloride and naloxone hydrochloride dehydrate sub-lingual tablets in the 2 mg/0.5 mg and 8 mg/2 mg strengths.

The drug is a generic version of Reckitt Benckiser’s Suboxone, which had sales of about $625 million in 2012, according to IMS Health.

 

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PHARMACY

NCPA among industry associations rejecting proposal to reschedule hydrocodone

BY Michael Johnsen

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The National Community Pharmacists Association last week called for the rejection of a proposal made by Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Mark Kirk, R.-Ill., to reschedule Vicodin and other hydrocodone-containing products from Schedule III to Schedule II of the Controlled Substances Act.

"Community pharmacists share concerns regarding the abuse and diversion of prescription drugs. Abuse of these drugs can ruin lives, devastate families and has contributed to dangerous crimes against pharmacies," stated NCPA CEO Douglas Hoey. "Aggressive anti-drug abuse efforts must be balanced with preserving legitimate patient access to necessary prescription drugs. This legislation, while well-intentioned, fails that test," he said. "It would create significant hardships for many and delay relief for vulnerable patients with legitimate chronic pain, especially those in nursing home and long-term care settings. Moreover, there are far more practical means available by which Congress and law enforcement can reduce prescription drug abuse without inflicting collateral damage on many innocent patients and the pharmacists caring for them."

Nearly 3,000 different combinations of strength, formulation and manufacturer of hydrocodone-containing products exist. Moving them to the more restrictive Schedule II could significantly delay patient access by eliminating phoned-in prescriptions, stopping prescription refills and, in some cases, prohibiting electronic prescribing. Higher healthcare costs would almost certainly result in order to account for increased physician interactions and other administrative burdens associated with Schedule II medications.

A group of patient and pharmacy groups including NCPA recently sent a letter to the Food and Drug Administration raising many of the same points. The letter was signed by American Academy of Pain Management, American Association of Nurse Assessment Coordination, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Society of Consultant Pharmacists, Amputee Coalition, CarsonCompany, Citizen Advocacy Center, Interstitial Cystitis Association, Long Term Care Pharmacy Alliance, Massachusetts Pain Initiative, NADONA, National Association of Chain Drug Stores, National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association, National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, Pain Treatment Topics, US Pain Foundation and the Wisconsin Pain Initiative.


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Kentucky enacts MAC reform

BY Michael Johnsen

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky on Friday became the first state to enact legislation that provides pharmacists with transparency into how health plans determine pharmacy reimbursements for generic drugs, and establishes an appeals process when a dispute arises over those payment levels. 

Specifically, the new law creates a set of standards with relation to categorizations and formularies for how pharmacy benefit managers craft their MAC lists, requires more frequent updates and streamlines the process for pharmacy reimbursement appeals.

"This transparency legislation will simply let pharmacists know how individual health plans will calculate a pharmacy’s reimbursement, and require timely updates to those rates to reflect market prices," noted Douglas Hoey, CEO for the National Community Pharmacists Association, which had lobbied for the bill. "With that information a small business community pharmacy owner can better evaluate contract proposals and determine whether they make business sense to accept. That, in turn, will benefit Kentucky patients and the state’s economy," he said.

"We hope Kentucky’s common-sense MAC reform serves as a model for the nation as similar legislation is being considered across the country, Hoey concluded"

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