PHARMACY

NACDS kicks off RxImpact Day with praise for newly introduced legislation

BY Antoinette Alexander

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — In anticipation of hundreds of meetings between pharmacy advocates and members of Congress and their staff as part of NACDS RxImpact Day on Capitol Hill, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores sent a letter to Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., applauding the introduction of her legislation on Tuesday that would establish Medicare standards for pharmacy audits and reimbursement by pharmacy benefit managers.

The bill was introduced as hundreds of pharmacy advocates fly to Washington, D.C., for more than 300 meetings with lawmakers and their staff to discuss opportunities to further leverage neighborhood pharmacy to advance patient health, reduce costs and spur the local economy. Pharmacy advocates — including NACDS members, pharmacists, pharmacy students and chain pharmacy leaders — already have begun converging in the nation’s capital for the fourth annual NACDS RxImpact Day on Capitol Hill, held March 21 and 22.

The new legislation, the Medicare Pharmacy Transparency and Fair Auditing Act (H.R. 4215), would require PBMs to provide pharmacies with vital information on reimbursement for life-saving drugs and community pharmacy-provided services to Medicare Part D beneficiaries. The legislation also would help guarantee the utilization of appropriate pharmacy audit standards for PBMs contracting with the Medicare Part D program.

“Despite their claims to the contrary, PBMs drive up prescription drug costs through their opaque practices, restrict consumers’ choice of pharmacy, and use gimmicks to deny payments to pharmacies,” NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson wrote in the letter. “Nothing is more important to chain pharmacy than the health and safety of their patients. We stand with you in your commitment to protecting the well-being of senior Americans.”

The legislation also would prohibit reduced pharmacy reimbursement stemming from clerical or recordkeeping errors, and ban extrapolation or other statistical tricks to unfairly calculate pharmacy recoupment and penalties.

“Your legislation will ensure that PBMs do not keep for themselves any payments recovered from their audits and that such payment recoveries are returned to the Prescription Drug Plan (PDP) sponsor,” Anderson stated. “Your legislation is an important step toward fully reining in the egregious practices of the PBMs.”

Last year, NACDS endorsed related bipartisan PBM transparency legislation, introduced by Rep. McMorris Rodgers and Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark. That bill, the Pharmacy Competition and Consumer Choice Act (H.R. 1971 and S. 1058), includes provisions related to the frequency of updating maximum allowable cost (MAC) pricing, data usage, and the forced utilization of a PBM’s own mail-order pharmacy, among other steps to prevent threats to pharmacy patient care.

Along with underscoring chain pharmacy’s support for the PBM transparency and standards bills, pharmacy advocates this week will urge lawmakers to oppose the proposed merger of PBMs Express Scripts and Medco, whose union, according to NACDS, would likely only exacerbate the problems highlighted by the legislation. NACDS members and other pharmacy advocates will also promote the adoption of legislation to increase access to medication therapy management services and ensure fair and adequate pharmacy reimbursement in federal healthcare programs.


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Reports: Watson plans to buy Actavis

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — Generic drug maker Watson Pharmaceuticals is looking to acquire Actavis, according to published reports.

News media reported Wednesday that U.S.-based Watson was close to taking over Switzerland-based Actavis for $6.6 to $7.3 billion. Actavis, also a major manufacturer of generic drugs, was formerly based in Iceland and moved its headquarters to Switzerland last year.

The deal would likely go through this month or next month, according to the reports. According to news media, people familiar with the matter suggested the combination of the two companies would give Watson a bigger presence in Europe.


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FDA approves Watson’s generic version of Boniva

BY Alaric DeArment

PARSIPPANY, N.J. — The Food and Drug Administration has approved Watson’s generic version of a drug used to prevent and treat osteoporosis in post-menopausal women, the company said.

Watson announced the FDA’s approval of ibandronate tablets in the 150-mg strength, a generic version of Genentech’s Boniva. Watson plans to launch its version in second quarter 2012.

On Monday, the FDA approved generic ibandronate tablets in the same strength made by Mylan, Apotex and Orchid Healthcare. Boniva had sales of $510 million during the 12-month period ended in January, according to IMS Health.

Watson said Roche, Genentech’s parent company, had filed suit against it with regard to the drug, alleging patent infringement.

 


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