Independent Rx lobby urges feds to adopt tough PBM operating rules
ALEXANDRIA, Va. Maintaining a combative stance against the managed-care industry, the independent pharmacy lobby is urging the federal government to adopt a get-tough policy regarding the pharmacy benefit management firms that administer drug benefits for federal employees.
The new push is coming from the National Community Pharmacists Association. In a letter Monday to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, NCPA SVP government affairs John Coster asked the agency to impose strict transparency rules on PBMs that serve government employees through the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program prescription drug benefit.
In his letter, Coster commends recently proposed OPM standards that would require that PBM’s disclose “potential conflicts of interest” and pass through all manufacturer rebates and other discounts to their customers –– including the federal employee health plan. Those proposed new rules would also grant OPM’s Office of Inspector General access to all PBM records and contracts.
“NCPA has long championed the need for both federal and state oversight of pharmacy benefit managers due to the problems our members and their patients continue to face in dealing with these unregulated entities,” Coster wrote. “PBMs have been permitted to operate virtually unchecked since their inception, slowed only by the increasing amount of litigation alleging fraudulent and deceptive business practices filed against the PBMs each year.”
Coster also urged Bill Zielinski, OPM’s associate director for retirement and benefits, to assure that the agency maintain those strict operating standards for PBMs that will serve the health insurance exchanges created by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act reforming the U.S. healthcare system. OPM will administer many of those health exchanges, Coster pointed out in his letter.
Novartis reports positive Q2
BASEL, Switzerland Sales and profits grew significantly for Swiss drug maker Novartis, with significant growth across divisions, according to the company’s second-quarter earnings report.
Novartis reported an 11% increase in net sales, to $11.7 billion, compared with $10.5 billion in second quarter 2009, while profits grew by 19%, to $2.4 billion, compared with $2 billion the year before.
The company’s major products mostly saw increases in sales; the cancer drug Gleevec (imatinib mesylate) had sales of $1 billion, compared with $990 million in second quarter 2009, while sales of the once-yearly osteoporosis treatment Reclast (zoledronic acid) increased from $115 million to $142 million.
Sandoz, the drug maker’s generics division, had an 11% sales increase, to $1.9 billion, compared with $1.7 billion in second quarter 2009.
Domann joining Kerr Health: Another sign of sweeping changes
WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT Rounding out its Kerr Health management team, Kerr Drug has gone beyond its own deep bench of retail-oriented players.
(THE NEWS: Domann named Kerr Health’s VP sales and business. For the full story, click here)
For the past year, the company, which dominates drug store retailing in its home state of North Carolina, has been fine-tuning a new pharmacy-care business model aimed at employers and built on its solid foundation as a pharmacy and healthcare innovator. So it’s no surprise that Kerr turned to a highly experienced pharmaceutical industry veteran to head up sales and new-business efforts for the fast-growing health-services operation.
That choice is Dick Domann, an affable, 30-year drug industry veteran who forged a successful, 27-year drug-channel sales career with GlaxoSmithKline. As such, he’s forged close ties with retail pharmacy and is intimately familiar with its concerns, capabilities and potential as a patient-centered solution to America’s healthcare woes. As Kerr Health’s first VP sales and business, Domann brings a broad perspective in pharmaceutical marketing, managed care and government relations to Kerr, which is working to burnish its credibility with employer-based health plans in North Carolina and elsewhere.
Domann also is no stranger to Kerr’s operating region. Since 1987, he’s called North Carolina home –– GSK is based in the state’s famed Research Triangle district near Duke University, the University of North Carolina and other centers of learning and medical practice –– and he’s been active in local community, business and political organizations for many years. He’s also a fledgling novelist, having authored and published one novel, with another on the way.
Domann’s induction is another sign of the sweeping changes ongoing at Kerr, which has firmly established its bona fides as one of retail pharmacy’s best healthcare innovators. Kerr Health, the health-services division of Kerr Drug, encompasses a wide gamut of pharmacy-based patient services – including disease management, medication therapy management, employer-based inoculation and clinical-care services, long-term care and specialty pharmacy.
Much like Walgreens, Kerr is focused on expanding the range of clinical and pharmacy services it can provide to employer-sponsored health plans and managed care organizations. It bills its vision for patient health as “holistic” in terms of its view of the patient, and positions its services as an adjunct to the care provided by time-stressed physicians and community health centers.
“Kerr Health synergistically unites Kerr Health Care Services and KDI Health Solutions, two subsidiaries of Kerr Drug, Inc., one of the nation’s leading and most respected names in the chain drug industry,” the company notes in a description of its offerings. “Kerr Health provides a broad and customizable offering of value-driven products and services to medical practices, patients, employer groups, long-term care facilities, and municipalities.”