PHARMACY

NACDS lauds Tricare retail pharmacy vaccination program for enabling 1 million vaccinations

BY Antoinette Alexander

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The National Association of Chain Drug Stores on Thursday applauded the Tricare Retail Pharmacy Vaccination Program’s announcement that 1 million vaccinations have been administered in retail pharmacies for military families and veterans.

Tricare expanded its pharmacy coverage in August 2011 to include a full spectrum of preventative vaccines. The expansion covers all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-recommended vaccinations at no cost if they are administered by a pharmacist at a participating Tricare pharmacy.  As a result, the milestone of one million vaccinations was achieved as of Oct. 28, 2012.
 
“We are pleased that the Department of Defense has expanded retail pharmacy’s role in administering vaccinations for Tricare patients,” said NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson. “As the face of neighborhood health care, retail community pharmacies provide a number of patient services, including vaccinations, to help patients improve their health and reduce healthcare costs.”
 
NACDS has long-supported efforts to protect pharmacy choice and access for Tricare beneficiaries.  Earlier this year, NACDS urged members of Congress to forego pharmacy co-payment changes to the Tricare program that would have placed significant financial burdens on its beneficiaries and threatened access to local community pharmacies.  In comments to a U.S. Senate panel, NACDS also emphasized to Congress the importance of finding ways to control spending while preserving patient pharmacy choice and access.
 
“This week we remember the brave service men and women who have served or continue to serve the nation. One of the best way to honor them is to protect Tricare beneficiaries’ ability to receive their vaccinations, fill their prescriptions and other health services provided by retail community pharmacy,” Anderson said. 
 

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CVS/pharmacy waives co-pays at select stores in areas hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — As part of its continuing efforts to help communities affected by Hurricane Sandy, CVS/pharmacy has announced that it is waiving prescription co-payments, deductibles and other financial liability related to prescription medications for patients who cannot pay at selected stores in the hardest hit neighborhoods in New York City and surrounding communities. 

This co-pay waiver program, which began on Nov. 12 and will run until the end of the month, is being undertaken with the cooperation of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the New York City Office of the Mayor and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.  

In addition, CVS/pharmacy is operating a mobile pharmacy at the site of its closed store at 88-07 Rockaway Beach Boulevard in Rockaway Beach, N.Y. This facility will also participate in the co-pay waiver program.

CVS/pharmacy noted that the program is not a blanket waiver of all co-payments and that requests to cover medication costs will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.  

For a list of stores participating in the co-pay waiver program click here.
 

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Kroger announces merger with specialty pharmacy Axium Pharmacy

BY Michael Johnsen

CINCINNATI — Kroger on Thursday announced it will acquire the outstanding shares of Axium Pharmacy Holdings, a leading specialty pharmacy, and merge the two companies.

The partnership gives Kroger significantly enhanced capabilities to serve customers who require complex drug therapies, and to deliver those therapies at a greater value to customers and insurance payers, the grocer stated. Financial terms were not disclosed.

"Kroger and Axium are a strategic fit as we look to enter the high-growth specialty pharmacy business," stated Lincoln Lutz, Kroger VP corporate pharmacy. "The combination of Axium’s expertise and Kroger’s 1,950 pharmacy locations, 91 Little Clinic locations and pharmacists who provide health coaching, biometric screening and other wellness services will deliver positive health outcomes for our patients, cost savings for insurance payers and unique services for physicians."

"We are excited to partner with Kroger to deliver specialty pharmacy services to their customers," added Mark Montgomery, Axium’s president and CEO. "We believe this relationship will create efficiencies that will reduce costs, drive growth and improve the overall quality of our combined healthcare services."

Founded in 2000, Axium provides drug therapies and patient-support services to treat chronic, genetic and other complex medical conditions, such as cancer, hepatitis C, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and numerous other chronic care conditions. 

In a press release announcing the merger, Kroger noted that specialty pharmacy is the primary area of growth in pharmaceuticals. Revenue for specialty drugs has grown from $17 billion in 2000 to $104 billion in 2011, and is projected to grow to $135 billion in 2014. In 2011, 80% of new drugs approved by the FDA were specialty drugs. Currently, more than 700 specialty drugs are in the pipeline for approval.

The transaction is contingent on typical conditions of closing, including any required approval by regulatory authorities. Edge Healthcare Partners served as Axium’s financial adviser for the pending merger.

 

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