PHARMACY

NACDS letter urges lawmakers to increase federal assistance to state Medicaid

BY Adam Kraemer

ALEXANDRIA, Va. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores Tuesday sent letters to Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.V., chairman of the Committee on Finance Subcommittee on Health Care, and Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., Chairman, Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, expressing support for their legislation that would temporarily increase the federal medical assistance percentage to state Medicaid programs for the last two quarters of fiscal year 2008 and the first three quarters of fiscal year 2009.

“NACDS has long been an advocate of state Medicaid program initiatives to control prescription drug costs, such as increasing generic drug utilization and ensuring more appropriate utilization of higher cost brand name drugs when necessary,” said NACDS president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson in the letter. “We believe the 2.95 percent increase in FMAP would provide temporary relief to states’ budgets that are severely compromised by rising health care costs, and enthusiastically support this legislation.”

Increasing Medicaid costs are already impacting state budgets across the country. California’s, in particular, is facing $1.36 billion in budget cuts, which include 10 percent across-the-board cuts and proposals to cut many of their optional provider programs, according to the NACDS. The association has worked to educate state legislators about the impacts that the cuts could have on patient access to Medicaid prescriptions, and the potential increase in higher-cost healthcare utilization that would follow.

“We thank Chairmen Rockefeller and Pallone for their leadership in providing comprehensive health care coverage, including prescription medications and pharmacy services, to Medicaid beneficiaries,” Anderson concluded. “We urge the House and Senate to move swiftly to pass this legislation to help ensure access to prescription medications.”

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FDA to closer scrutinize consumer drug advertisements

BY Drew Buono

WASHINGTON The Food and Drug Administration’s current budget for reviewing consumer drug advertisements is larger this year than the previous five years combined, according to USA TODAY.

The FDA received $6.1 million for the current fiscal year to check the fairness and accuracy of consumer drug ads. That’s up from $2.2 million the previous year and $1 million the year before.

The FDA says it plans to hire more people so it can review more ads. It has 13 workers devoted to policing direct-to-consumer ad materials, six of which are primary reviewers. Last year, the FDA received 12,616 drug ad materials.

The FDA has been so overwhelmed by drug industry ad materials that only a “small portion” is reviewed, the Government Accountability Office said in a 2006 report. The FDA often didn’t declare consumer ads false or misleading until after ad campaigns were over, the GAO said.

President Bush’s proposed 2009 budget calls for $14 million from user fees to fund 27 FDA positions devoted to the consumer-ad-review program. In exchange, the FDA would review TV drug ads within 45 days of getting them from drugmakers — which is faster than many reviews occur now — and before the ads are seen by millions of viewers.

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BY Drew Buono

HOUSTON The Professional Compounding Centers of America has named John Herr its recipient of the Dr. M. George Webber Compounding Pharmacist of the Year, an award that is presented annually to an independent pharmacist who has demonstrated service excellence to patients, healthcare providers and pharmacy colleagues.

L. David Sparks, PCCA’s president/chief executive officer, presented the award to Herr during the company’s International Seminar held in Houston in January 2008. “This year, we recognize a pharmacist who has become one of our profession’s most respected compounders,” Sparks declared. “His colleagues appreciate his generosity and willingness to share and network with them. His pharmacy staff respects his dedication to compounding, compassion for patients and concern for their own well being as his employees. His patients and prescribers appreciate his ability to solve specific medication needs in a high-quality manner.”

Herr has been a registered pharmacist for more than 20 years, and has been an owner of Town & Country Pharmacy since 1999. He is the recipient of several recognition awards for his outstanding service in his practice of the art and science of pharmacy compounding, including the New Jersey Hospice and Palliative Care Organization’s 1998 Hospice Team Award for outstanding leadership as a Hospice Pharmacist.

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