PHARMACY

MTM message breaks through in Congress

BY Jim Frederick

Last week, I wrote about medication therapy management and a new bill in the House of Representatives to expand the pool of patients who qualify for MTM programs through Medicare. This week, I’m writing about — wait for it — medication therapy management.

Why? Because MTM is important, vitally important, to the future of community pharmacy, and is one of the key health and prevention services that will define the profession in the era of health reform and evidence-based health care.

I also am revisiting MTM because the Senate has now taken up similar legislation. As reported by Drug Store News senior editor Michael Johnsen, the Medication Therapy Management Empowerment Act, introduced in the Senate on March 14, would “allow seniors with any high-cost chronic illness to review all their medication and develop a plan of action with a pharmacist.”

One of the bill’s sponsors, Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., called MTM “a commonsense, fiscally responsible way to improve seniors’ health and reduce preventable trips to the hospital.” And Hagan has seen its value up close in her home state, where statewide health programs like ChecKmeds NC “save lives and have already saved tens of millions of dollars in North Carolina alone,” thanks in large part to interventions by pharmacists in the chronic care of seniors through MTM and prescription drug adherence efforts.

The Senate bill’s co-sponsor, Republican Pat Roberts of Kansas, sees MTM as “an important tool in the pharmacist’s tool box for many patients…which can be critical for those suffering from chronic conditions.” What’s more, he voiced the realization that pharmacists “can sometimes be the only health provider in our rural towns.”

The moves in Congress to more effectively enlist pharmacists in the urgent search for solutions to the nation’s health crisis was timely: It came as hundreds of pharmacists, pharmacy executives and pharmacy faculty and students descended on Washington for the 5th Annual NACDS RxImpact Day last week. Drug Store News senior editor Antoinette Alexander reported that this yearly exercise in mass grass-roots lobbying spawned 400 direct meetings between chain pharmacy advocates and the federal lawmakers representing their home districts.

What’s more, Alexander reports, “The RxImpact Day event continues to grow in popularity,” with participation up 29% in 2013 and 70% of the chain pharmacy industry represented. If you were among those RxImpact participants, please share your experience with your fellow readers. Were the senators, congressional representatives and staff members you met with on the Hill receptive to pharmacy’s message? Did they understand the need for MTM and other pharmacist-provided health services? And did they understand community pharmacy’s huge cost-saving potential?

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PHARMACY

Supreme Court to hear generic drug liability case

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — The question of whether a generic drug company can be held liable for harmful side effects from its medicines goes before the Supreme Court Tuesday in a case involving a New Hampshire woman who sustained several injuries after taking a generic pain drug.

The case, Mutual Pharmaceutical v. Bartlett, involves Karen Bartlett, who took Mutual’s sulindac, a generic version of Merck’s Clinoril. After taking the drug, Bartlett developed suffered near-blindness, esophageal burns and lung damage, as well as the skin disorders Stevens-Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis. A jury awarded Bartlett $21 million for her injuries.

The issue is, while Bartlett suffered the injuries after taking Mutual’s drug, under federal regulations governing generic drugs, a generic drug company typically does not have to conduct clinical trials — only demonstrate that its product is identical to the branded drug.

"The previous court suggested that the manufacturer in this case, Mutual Pharmaceutical, could comply with the law by simply halting production of the FDA-approved drug in question, sulindac," Generic Pharmaceutical Association president and CEO Ralph Neas said. "This pain drug has been available since 1979, has been dispensed more than 300 million times from 2007 to 2012, and has exhibited a typical safety profile. We cannot confer to unqualified juries the power to undermine FDA rulings and potentially deprive millions of patients the medicines they need. Decisions about the safety and efficacy of drugs belong in the capable hands of the FDA."

In PLIVA v. Mensing, a 2011 case cited by Mutual, the Supreme Court determined that because generic drugs and their labeling are required to be identical to their branded counterparts, generic drug companies cannot be responsible for inadequate labeling.

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S.LEWIS says:
Apr-06-2013 03:49 am

It is great news that the generic drug liability case is going to handled by the Supreme Court. This case was registered because a woman had suffered severe injuries after taking a simple generic pain drug. This drug malfunction happened because the drug had some chemical defect during its product which went to have a side effect. Soon the verdict will be out. personal injury attorney richmond va

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PHARMACY

WAG Q2 results headed in right direction as chain prepares three new flagship openings in DC, NY and Boston

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Even as Walgreens expands its operation globally through strategic partnerships with both Alliance Boots and now AmerisourceBergen, the pharmacy operator continues to create some retail pop in the U.S. market. For example, Walgreens has set the stage for the opening of three more flagship stores. A Walgreens flagship opens in downtown Washington D.C. later this week. Next, Walgreens will open its third New York Walgreens flagship in the Empire State Building later in March and next month New England will see its first Walgreens flagship in Boston. 

"These locations are raising the Walgreens brand in important markets as we continue to drive transformation of our stores across the entire network," noted Walgreens president and CEO Greg Wasson during a second-quarter conference call with analysts Tuesday morning. 

And while Walgreens’ omnichannel pharmacy brand is becoming better recognized as the go-to shopping destination for health and beauty, there are a number of tailwinds helping to bolster Walgreens performance as well. For example, Walgreens continues to see a growing influx of returning Express Scripts patients, Wasson told analysts. Also, Walgreens is now a preferred drug store in four Medicare Part D plans "giving these members a financial benefit when they choose Walgreens over our comeptitors," Wasson said. Other tailwinds include a reinvigorated private label offering and the cycling of Walgreens’ promotional strategy from last year, which included more print placements versus digital media. 

And Walgreens Balance Rewards program continues to excel, as evidenced by the 60 million consumers who have signed on since its inception six months ago. 

Walgreens tabulated sales of $18.7 billion for the second quarter ended Feb. 28, which were flat compared to the prior-year quarter. First half sales decreased 2.3% to $35.96 billion.

Walgreens reported that its joint synergy program with strategic partner, Alliance Boots, continues to be on track to deliver its first-year target of $100-$150 million in combined synergies. “Alliance Boots contribution to our results was in line with our expectations this quarter, and we anticipate that to continue in the second half of our fiscal year,” Wasson said.

The two companies also announced earlier today a strategic, long-term relationship with AmerisourceBergen, one of North America’s largest pharmaceutical services companies. Under the agreement, Walgreens will expand its existing relationship with AmerisourceBergen into a 10-year comprehensive primary distribution agreement for branded and generic pharmaceutical products. In addition, Walgreens and Alliance Boots will collaborate with AmerisourceBergen on global supply chain opportunities and will have rights to acquire a minority equity position in AmerisourceBergen.

Front-end comparable store sales were down 2.6% in the second quarter. Customer traffic in comparable stores decreased 5.2% and basket size increased 2.8%, while total sales in comparable stores decreased 2.6%. All second-quarter comparable store sales and prescription figures include 29 days in February 2012.

Prescription sales, which accounted for 61.1% of sales in the quarter, were flat, while prescription sales in comparable stores decreased 2.7%. The company filled 208 million prescriptions in the quarter, an increase of 6% over last year’s second quarter. Prescriptions filled in comparable stores increased 4.3% in the quarter. 

As of Feb. 28, Walgreens increased its retail prescription market share 50 basis points from the end of its fiscal 2013 first quarter on Nov. 30, 2012, to 19.2%, the company reported. 

Flu shots administered at pharmacies and clinics this flu season were up 27.3% through Feb. 28, totaling 7 million compared with 5.5 million a year ago.

 

 

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