PHARMACY

Medicare and Medicaid FAST Act takes aim at cutting waste, fraud and abuse

BY Allison Cerra

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Bipartisan legislation that is aimed to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare and Medicaid programs has been introduced to Congress.

Sens. Tom Carper, D-Del., and Tom Coburn, R-Okla., said that the Medicare and Medicaid Fighting Fraud and Abuse to Save Taxpayers’ Dollars Act, which was unveiled Wednesday, would address the aforementioned problems, which often lead to tens of billions of dollars lost to waste and fraud in Medicare and Medicaid every year, the senators said.

The legislation, also referred to as the FAST Act, is cosponsored by Sens. Michael Bennet, D-Colo.; Mike Enzi, R-Wyo.; Bob Corker, R-Tenn.; Scott Brown, R-Mass.; Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; and John Thune, R-S.D.

Responding to the introduced legislation, the National Community Pharmacists Association said that although the group was continuing to review the legislation, it applauded the senators’ efforts, stating that "every dollar that is lost to fraudsters or misspent on bloated administrative expenses increases costs for everyone, jeopardizes patients’ access to pharmacists and other providers and creates artificial pressure on provider reimbursements, which already don’t necessarily cover the cost of providing care."

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PHARMACY

Supreme Court strikes down Rx data mining law

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court has struck down a law in Vermont designed to encourage generic drug usage by limiting the sharing of information about what branded drugs doctors prescribe, so that drug companies could use it when crafting sales pitches, according to published reports.

The Associated Press reported that justices voted 6-3 against a law in Vermont that had banned pharmacies from selling de-identified information about branded drug prescriptions to data-mining companies without doctors’ permission. Typically, the data-mining companies provide the data to drug makers, which use it when determining how to market their medications to doctors.

AP reported that the ruling could also affect similar laws in Maine and New Hampshire. In his majority opinion, justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that the law violated free speech rights, but justice Stephen Breyer wrote in his dissent that the law was a regulation of business activity and thus constitutional.

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PHARMACY

Watson to expand Salt Lake City manufacturing, R&D plant

BY Alaric DeArment

SALT LAKE CITY — Watson Pharmaceuticals plans to expand its manufacturing and research and development plant in Salt Lake City, the drug maker said.

The $44 million expansion of the plant will include retrofitting about 20,000 sq. ft. of space and the construction of about 17,000 additional sq. ft. The expansion of the plant, which makes transdermal patches and topical gels, is expected to include the addition of about 300 new employees over the next three to five years.

The company said the expansion will allow a tripling of annual manufacturing batch capacity to support future products, such as the generic version of Teikoku Pharma USA’s Lidoderm (lidocaine) transdermal patch for pain, which the company expects to launch as early as 2012.

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