PHARMACY

FDA could consider faster approvals for some drugs

BY Barbara White-Sax

SILVER SPRING, M.D. — The Food and Drug Administration may be willing to speed up trials for drugs that could be a big benefit to society despite their risks.

According to several published reports, FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg recently told a group of scientific advisers that the agency is considering allowing makers of drugs having a societal benefit to conduct faster clinical trials with a smaller group of patients than is now required.

A “special medical use” label could be used, allowing physicians to administer the drugs to those patients in most dire need, such as those with deadly or debilitating diseases who may be willing to accept the additional perils of unproven drugs, Hamburg said.

Life-saving antibiotics or obesity drugs could be candidates for the ramped-up approval process, although Hamburg did not mention any specific drugs at the meeting.

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Rite Aid offers free Medicare Part D consultations

BY Barbara White-Sax

CAMP HILL, Pa. — Rite Aid is making its pharmacists available free of charge to seniors and their caregivers for personalized Medicare Part D consultations. Seniors can also use Rite Aid’s dedicated Medicare Advisor comparison tools online at RiteAid.com/medicareadvisor.

With Medicare Part D open enrollment from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, Rite Aid anticipates that many seniors choosing a prescription drug program will find the complicated pricing process and varying coverage rates of the many provider plans confusing.

Medicare Part D plans are not all created alike, and finding the right Medicare Part D plan can be overwhelming," said Robert Thompson, Rite Aid’s EVP pharmacy. "But it’s easier with a trusted adviser. Rite Aid pharmacists stand ready to help their patients find the plan in their area that is best for their prescription needs."

The Kaiser Family Foundation estimated that 19.7 million beneficiaries are enrolled in Medicare Part D prescription drug plans.

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Humana-Walmart plan open for enrollment for seniors

BY Barbara White-Sax

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Walmart and Humana have teamed up again to help Medicare beneficiaries afford their prescriptions. With annual enrollment open until Dec. 7, 2012, for 2013 Medicare plans, the Humana-Walmart Preferred Rx Plan announced that it offers one monthly plan premium of $18.50 a month for beneficiaries in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., regardless of where they live.

The plan, which has grown by more than 50% over the past year and has nearly 1.5 million Medicare beneficiaries currently enrolled, also features in-store co-payments as low as $1 for generic medications after the deductible when plan members fill their prescriptions at Walmart, Sam’s Club or Neighborhood Market pharmacies.

Mail-order co-payments, via Humana’s RightSource Rx Pharmacy, are as low as $0. The plan has a broad prescription offering with more than 1,500 generic medications.

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