PHARMACY

Healthcare providers can challenge Calif. Medicaid cuts, Supreme Court rules

BY Alaric DeArment

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The Supreme Court has sent a lawsuit challenging cuts to California’s Medicaid program back to a lower court.

The high court ruled 5-4 in the case of Douglas v. Independent Living Center of Southern California that healthcare providers could challenge Medicaid reimbursement cuts under the U.S. Constitution’s supremacy clause. The decision returns the case to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which had originally ruled that the providers had standing to sue.

The case was filed in 2008 in California’s Federal District Court, arguing that a 10% reimbursement cut in the Medi-Cal program violated the federal patient access law.

A group of pharmacy organizations, including the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the National Community Pharmacists Association, the American Pharmacists Association and the National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations, praised the ruling.

"Ensuring patient access to pharmacy care should not be compromised in an attempt to remedy budget challenges," NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson said. "Community pharmacy provides unsurpassed value in improving health and reducing costs across the board."


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PHARMACY

Walgreens releases data, white paper touting value of 90-day retail refills

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. — One year after launching a national awareness campaign focused on the benefits of 90-day prescription refills at retail pharmacies, Walgreens on Friday released new data supporting the success of the 90-day refill program and its overarching benefits to patients and payers. Walgreens also released a white paper outlining in greater detail the ways in which 90-day retail refills can help improve adherence and reduce costs.

“We know that the 90-day retail option can be effective in helping to reduce overall healthcare costs and improve patient outcomes through better medication adherence,” stated Kermit Crawford, Walgreens president of pharmacy health-and-wellness services and solutions. “Medication nonadherence is one of the biggest hurdles in treating illness today. In addition to working with patients and payers to drive cost savings, our 90-day retail offerings have fostered deep and trusted relationships with our pharmacists and given patients greater convenience, resulting in 15% greater adherence versus 30-day.”

The key data underscoring the initiative’s success to date includes:

  • An increase of more than 30% in 90-day retail prescription volume with more than 150 million adjusted 90-day prescriptions filled during calendar year 2011;

  • Increases in Walgreens 90-day retail market share — including year-over-year growth from 17.6% to more than 20.3% in December; and

  • An industry-leading awareness level of customers knowledgeable of the 90-day retail option — more than 8 percentage points higher than the competition.

The 90-day retail initiative focuses on informing eligible patients of the option to receive 90-day medication supplies from their neighborhood Walgreens retail pharmacy, and encourages prescription plan administrators to offer this choice to their members. Walgreens had developed the campaign to heighten awareness of 90-day retail options, citing a prior lack of awareness (58%) among patients as a primary barrier to greater adoption of 90-day prescriptions. 

Walgreens also issued a new white paper, “The Value of 90-Day Retail,” (to download, click here) further analyzing the benefits of 90-day prescription refills at retail pharmacies, including those the company’s clients and partners have recognized through the recent addition of this option to their benefits plans.

“Today’s healthcare landscape continues to evolve, along with the growing needs of payers and health plans, and there is strong evidence supporting the benefits of adding a 90-day retail option,” stated Jeffrey Berkowitz, Walgreens SVP pharmaceutical development and market access. “While some are focused on reducing choice and convenience for members, we believe programs like 90-day retail, which offers much greater options, can be a key driver in maximizing member benefits and savings. Walgreens is driving greater consumer awareness, and with innovative technology and convenient nationwide access, we’re uniquely positioned to help bring this offering to other healthcare groups.”

The paper examines how combining 90-day retail refills with the more common 30-day retail and 90-day mail options can help achieve cost savings, improved medication adherence and patient outcomes, as well as higher member satisfaction. The paper also unveils data refuting common misconceptions around 90-day retail options, such as the belief that savings generated would be negated by mail-order cannibalization or that it increases medication waste.

The white paper also features a new case study outlining how a mid-sized pharmacy benefit manager client has realized more than $43 million in cost savings, driven by an 18% increase in total 90-day penetration — just 18 months after adopting a 90-day retail offering.


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Par completes acquisition of Edict

BY Alaric DeArment

WOODCLIFF LAKE, N.J. — Generic drug maker Par Pharmaceutical has completed its acquisition of an Indian drug company, Par said.

Par announced that it had completed its $20.5 million acquisition of Chennai, India-based Edict Pharmaceuticals.

Edict specializes in oral solid drugs and currently has 11 regulatory approval applications under review at the Food and Drug Administration.


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