PHARMACY

Increasing use of generics would save money amid sequester, GPhA tells members of Congress

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — Amid a tide of automatic spending cuts resulting from the failure of Congress and the White House to agree on a budget, the generic drug lobby has offered some suggestions to generate savings.

The Generic Pharmaceutical Association, an industry trade group, sent letters to members of the House and Senate outlining six ways to increase use of generic drugs, which it said would save money: Encourage generic drug use for the Medicare Low Income Subsidy population; close loopholes in the current REMS strategy; pass policy prohibition against state-level carve-out laws that restrict use of certain generics; integrate incentives for generic use and adherence in chronic management reforms; restrict the exclusivity for biotech drugs from 12 years to seven; and increase Medicaid payments to states that increase the use of the least costly drugs available.

"So many ways to cut costs require enormous sacrifice," GPhA president and CEO Ralph Neas said. "But generics have proven that drug-cost reductions are available while maintaining safety, efficacy and improved health outcomes. We can offer patients quality, FDA-approved medicines at a fraction of the price and save billions in the process."

 

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PHARMACY

Report: Wegmans extends free atorvastatin offer through end of year

BY Michael Johnsen

PHILADELPHIA — Wegmans will be offering the popular cholesterol-lowering drug atorvastatin free of charge through the end of the year, according to a report published by the Philadelphia Inquirer Wednesday. 

According to the report, the generic equivalent to Lipitor would have sold for $67.88 for 30 tablets and $191.08 for 90 tablets in 2012 if the customer had no insurance to offset the cost. Before facing generic competition in November, 2011, Lipitor was the leading branded prescription as measured in dollars. 

"This dovetails with our mission of helping people live better lives through healthy living," Wegmans spokeswoman Jo Natale told the Inquirer


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NCPA supports Ore. reimbursement, audit, pharmacy choice legislation

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — Bills introduced in Oregon’s state legislature would allow employers and other health plan sponsors to have greater knowledge about how pharmacy benefit managers determine the rates at which they pay pharmacies for dispensing generic drugs; establish new standards for pharmacy audits while requiring PBMs to register in the state and be licensed by the state board of pharmacy; and prevent health plans from requiring residents of the state to use mail-order pharmacies.

S.B. 363 would allow Oregonians to fill prescriptions at the pharmacy of their choice, similar to legislation recently enacted in New York and Pennsylvania. Meanwhile, H.B. 2123, in addition to requiring PBMs to register in the state, would include the same maximum allowable cost, or MAC disclosure, and updating requirements featured in S.B. 402.

"No homebuilder would agree to build a house with knowing what they would be paid, the cost of their construction materials or whether they would be held harmless when the cost of lumber or other goods increases," National Community Pharmacists Association second VP and Grants Pass, Ore., pharmacist and pharmacy owner Michele Belcher said. "Yet that’s exactly the situation that community pharmacists are in today. This bill would simply let the pharmacist know how they will be reimbursed for drugs and allows employers to better understand what makes up their drug plan costs."

In one example, at a legislative hearing, a local pharmacist reported being reimbursed less than $1.80 for a prescription for which the previous reimbursement was $8.69. Similar bills are under consideration in the state legislatures of Kentucky, North Dakota and Oklahoma. 

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