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House to consider repealing prescription mandate on OTCs purchased through FSAs

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives will vote to repeal limitations on the use of tax-advantaged accounts for the purchase of over-the-counter medications as early as June 4, according to a report published online by The Hill, a Washington, D.C.-based political newspaper.

The paper cited a planning memo from majority leader Eric Cantor, R-Va.

Just last month, the House Subcommittee on Oversight of the Committee on Ways and Means held a hearing around that piece of legislation. "Physician groups have suggested that the OTC medication prescription requirement has imposed an unreasonable administrative burden, resulted in longer waits for appointments and increased healthcare costs," the subcommittee reported in April.

“Too often in Washington, officials make decisions about healthcare policy based on abstract theories and budgetary scores," stated subcommittee chairman Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La., in announcing the hearing.

According to testimony submitted by the Consumer Healthcare Products Association at that hearing, since the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act went into effect on Jan. 1, flexible spending account participants have been faced with three choices on having their OTC medicines reimbursed — make an additional doctor’s appointment to obtain a prescription for a nonprescription therapy; forego between 10% and 35% in savings, depending on the individual’s tax bracket, by buying the medicine without reimbursement; or go without treatment altogether.

“None of these options are good healthcare policy," testified Scott Melville, CHPA president and CEO, during that April hearing. "None of these options increase healthcare access, but they do increase costs to consumers and to our healthcare system."

Citing a recent study by Booz & Co., Melville estimated that OTCs provide $102 billion dollars in savings to the nation’s healthcare system every year. The benefits are realized through reduced doctor visits (accounting for $77 billion of those savings) and reduced drug costs (accounting for $25 billion in savings).

The study also reported that 240 million people each year treat illnesses with OTC medicines, bought off-the-shelf without a prescription. According to the study, an estimated 60 million of these consumers would not otherwise seek treatment if they could not purchase OTCs.

For the full report from The Hill, click here.

 


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Sun appoints former Teva CEO as chairman

BY Alaric DeArment

MUMBAI, India — Generic drug maker Sun Pharmaceutical Industries appointed a new chairman as the company announced big jumps in fourth-quarter and fiscal year 2012 sales and profits.

The drug maker announced the appointment of former Teva Pharmaceutical Industries president and CEO Israel Makov as chairman. Makov, who began working for Teva in 1995, and led it as president and CEO from 2002 to 2007, is widely credited with that company becoming the world’s largest generic drug maker and one of the world’s largest drug makers overall.

Before joining Teva, Makov founded Israel’s first biotech company, Interpharm, and since his departure has served as chairman for a number of companies, including capsule endoscopy provider Given Imaging and life sciences investment company Biolight.

The appointment came on the heels of a 59% increase in sales, to $4.2 billion, for fourth quarter 2012, and a 40% increase, to $14.4 billion, for the fiscal year. Profits for the quarter increased 85%, to $1.5 billion, and increased by 42%, to $4.7 billion, in the fiscal year.

In other news, Sun announced Thursday the approval of azelastine hydrochloride nasal spray, a generic version of Medpointe Pharm HLC’s Astelin, a treatment for allergies. Various versions of the drug have annual sales of $144 million, according to Sun, which will sell the drug in the 0.1% strength.

 


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Whole Foods Market names regional presidents

BY DSN STAFF

AUSTIN, Texas — Whole Foods Market has named Scott Allshouse, Omar Gaye and Rob Twyman as regional presidents following the promotion of David Lannon and Kenneth Meyer to EVPs of operations.

Allshouse fills Meyer’s former role as president of the company’s Mid-Atlantic region. He moves from his position as president of the South region.

Gaye takes the South region president position vacated by Allshouse, moving from his position as the South region’s VP.

Twyman is now president of Whole Foods Market’s northern California region. He fills David Lannon’s former role and moves from his position as VP of the Northeast region.

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