PHARMACY

Maryland pharmacy owners request vote on AMP bill

BY Drew Buono

LA PLATA, Md. Maryland community pharmacy owners are asking U.S. House majority leader Steny Hoyer to bring H.R. 3140—Saving Our Community Pharmacies Act of 2007—to the House floor for a vote.

The bill would help community pharmacists with the new reimbursement practices that Medicaid will put into effect in 2008 for generic drugs.  In 2005, the Deficit Reduction Act cut Medicaid pharmacy services by more than $8 billion, causing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to create new rules for Medicaid generic reimbursement based on an average manufacturer price formula.  A December 2006 Government Accountability Office report found that, on average, pharmacies would be paid 36 percent below their acquisition costs using this new formula, therefore forcing patients to seek services from expensive emergency rooms and doctors’ offices.

“Who can stay in business at 36 percent below cost?” said Howard Schiff, executive director of the Maryland Pharmacists Association. “AMP does not properly measure retail acquisition costs; it includes sales prices that are unavailable to community pharmacies like County Drug here in La Plata. In Maryland there are 332 community pharmacies that ably provide patients with quality services—services that are not often found in large chain and mail-order pharmacies.”

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Pfizer wins lawsuit over Viagra patent

BY Drew Buono

NEW YORK The Canadian Federal Court has decided that Apotex’s proposed generic version of the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra will infringe on one of Pfizer’s patents on the brand name drug.

The court has granted Pfizer’s request for an order to prevent Apotex from launching the generic version until the patent expires in 2014.

Apotex plans on appealing the ruling, which could take up to a year.

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AstraZeneca to Provide Free Medicines to Illinois’ Largest Free Clinic

BY Allison Cerra

WILMINGTON, Del. AstraZeneca announced that CommunityHealth in Chicago, Illinois has enrolled in the pharmaceutical giant?s newest prescription savings program, which provides medicines free of charge to community healthcare facilities.

The AZ&Me Prescription Savings program for healthcare facilities is available to non-profit organizations that have a licensed outpatient pharmacy or dispensary on site and meet other program criteria. Patients are eligible for AstraZeneca medicines through this program if they do not have prescription drug coverage and have a household income at or below $30,000 for an individual, or $60,000 for a family of four.

“There are 1.3 million uninsured in Chicago and the surrounding area. MedAccess Chicago is designed to help address that problem by putting prescription medications within reach of those who desperately need but cannot afford them,” said Judith Haasis, executive director of CommunityHealth. “With partners like AstraZeneca, we are able to better serve those patients who are falling through the cracks.”

CommunityHealth, the largest free clinic in Illinois and one of the largest in the United States, recently announced the opening of MedAccess Chicago, a licensed pharmacy housed at the health center that will make free prescription medications available to uninsured patients throughout the city.

Through the AZ&Me Prescription Savings program for healthcare facilities, AstraZeneca is planning to provide free medicines to approximately 250 facilities by the end of 2008.

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