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House committee approves measure to restore OTC reimbursements under FSAs

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — The House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday approved the Restoring Access to Medication Act (H.R. 5842), which would repeal the provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that disqualified expenses for over-the-counter drugs as eligible for reimbursement under health savings accounts and flexible spending arrangements without a prescription.

“Today’s action by the Ways and Means Committee is an important first step in reducing the cost of healthcare for millions of Americans," said Scott Melville, president and CEO for the Consumer Healthcare Products Association. "OTC medicines are a vital part of our nation’s healthcare system and often serve as a first line treatment for many common, self-manageable conditions like colds, allergies, heartburn and headaches.”

According to the CHPA, nearly 10 million Americans used their FSAs to purchase OTC medicines before the Affordable Care Act was enacted.


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NACDS launches 2012 Marketplace Conference mobile app

BY Antoinette Alexander

ALEXANDRIA, Va.  — The National Association of Chain Drug Stores has officially launched its 2012 Marketplace Conference mobile application.

The mobile app, which is sponsored by the Emerson Group, offers a toolkit for conference attendees to enhance planning and the overall experience for the NACDS Marketplace Conference. This year’s NACDS Marketplace Conference will be held June 23 to 26 in Denver.

The app provides attendees with hands-on access — right on their smartphone or tablet — to information to assist in planning ahead, as well as conducting business while on site at the conference. Exhibit floor maps, exhibitors list, schedule of events, speakers and photos are just a few of the tools that attendees can access using the mobile app.
 
By downloading the app, attendees also will receive alerts on upcoming events and activities to ensure the most up-do-date information regarding the conference. Attendees also can follow NACDS’ social media activities on Twitter and Facebook.
 
In addition, attendees can personalize their schedule for the conference with the “My Schedule” feature. Bookmarking an event on the conference schedule will display the event to the “My Schedule” feature. Custom items can also be added to “My Schedule,” enabling attendees to coordinate meetings and events.  
 
In addition to the mobile app, the NACDS mobile website — m.NACDS.org — is fully updated with information about the meeting and all 2012 NACDS events.    
 
“NACDS utilizes cutting-edge innovations in technology to enhance efficiencies and experiences in its member programs and services,” NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson said. “It’s through these innovations that NACDS members will continue to see the value and impact of NACDS conferences and meetings in their day-to-day business.”
 
The 2012 NACDS Marketplace Conference Mobile App can be downloaded on a number of mobile platforms.  For iPhone (plus, iPod Touch and iPad) and Android phones: visit the App Store or Android Market on the phone and search for "2012 NACDS Marketplace Conference" and download the mobile app. For all other smartphones (including BlackBerry and all other Web browser-enabled phones) direct the mobile browser to http://m.core-apps.com/nacdsmp2012.  From there, download the proper version of the app to match the device, or bookmark the page for future reference.

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Pharmacy groups submit recommendations to FDA as agency finalizes draft guidance for biosimilars

BY Allison Cerra

WASHINGTON — As the Food and Drug Administration works to finalize draft guidance related to the development of biosimilar products, pharmacy groups recently weighed in with recommendations to facilitate the entry of lower-cost products into the biologic and specialty pharmaceutical markets.

The FDA is working to implement the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act — which was enacted as part of the Affordable Care Act — and is "designed to create an approval pathway for biosimilar and interchangeable biological products while preserving the incentives that have fueled the development of these medicines."

The American Pharmacists Association, National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the National Community Pharmacists Association sent a joint letter to the FDA, requesting the agency to consider the following recommendations:

  • Biosimilar products should maintain the same name as their reference biologic counterparts to help prevent confusion. The use of suffixes should be avoided as well;

  • Pharmacists should be able to automatically substitute biosimilar products for their biologic reference product, assuming the FDA deems interchangeability between products;

  • The FDA should provide further guidance regarding whether biosimilar medicines will be determined to be interchangeable with their reference products, how pharmacists can assess appropriateness of substitution for individual patients, labeling provisions for manufacturers, and prescribing standards for physicians; and

  • An interchangeability reference list should be developed by the FDA, something similar to the current Orange Book for generics, to assist health care providers in managing these prescription orders.

“Pharmacists are the most accessible healthcare professionals and recommending generic alternatives is a standard pharmacy practice,” the APhA, NACDS and NCPA said in their letter to the FDA. “Allowing pharmacists to perform fully within their scope of practice by permitting automatic substitution of cost-effective biologic and specialty medications increases availability, thereby greatly benefitting the entire healthcare system and the patients it serves. Our organizations recognize the need for education and training of health care providers on biosimilars. Our organizations are willing to work with FDA and other stakeholders to help develop and provide education to pharmacists."


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A.SCHAFER says:
Jun-07-2012 04:19 pm

Good article, interesting. ISR recently authored a report on what US Pharmacists think about several topics regarding Biosimilars, including pharmacy-level substitution. Most pharmacists did not have a very solid understanding of Biosimilars and many did not agree with Pharmacy-level substitution. For more, please visit: http://www.isrreports.com/industry-reports/biosimilars-from-the-pharmacy

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