NACDS, NCPA urge Senate, House committees to preserve patient choice for Tricare beneficiaries
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the National Community Pharmacists Association today expressed concerns in a letter sent to Senate Armed Services Committee and House Armed Services Committee leaders over the potential impact of the administration’s fiscal year 2013 budget on Tricare beneficiaries and community pharmacy.
In a letter to Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., and ranking member John McCain, R-Ariz.; and a letter to House Armed Services Committee chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., and ranking member Adam Smith, D-Wash., NACDS and NCPA stated that the budget would “increase healthcare costs for the Department of Defense, place significant financial burdens on Tricare beneficiaries and threaten access to local pharmacies.”
The industry groups outlined in the letters what they consider to be the flaw in the budget’s co-payments proposal to incentivize Tricare patients to move to mail order, which they said will, in fact, increase healthcare costs rather than decrease costs.
“The goal … is to reduce prescription drug spending. However, the co-payments currently in place for the Tricare pharmacy benefit are flawed, and the proposed changes will only build on this faulty structure. According to DOD’s own analysis, in the case of generic medications, mail order is more expensive than the retail pharmacy network,” the letters stated.
NACDS and NCPA urged the committees’ leaders to promote the use of generic drugs at neighborhood pharmacies. "Tricare mail order dispenses generics less frequently than other commercial mail-order programs,” the groups stated in the letters.
The letters also emphasized the importance of cost-savings demonstration projects, and urged Congress to include a medication therapy management project in the FY2013 Defense Authorization bill. “The use of MTM in targeted populations has been found to increase adherence to medications, reduce hospitalizations and physician visits, and reduce costs.”
The NACDS and NCPA urged Congress to ensure that community pharmacy access and choice are preserved for Tricare beneficiaries.
Walgreens finalizes BioScrip deal; expands specialty pharmacy footprint
DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens on Monday announced it has completed its acquisition of certain assets of BioScrip’s community specialty pharmacies and centralized specialty and mail-service pharmacy businesses. The transaction represents a total deal value of approximately $225 million.
“We welcome the BioScrip leaders and employees involved in the transaction to the Walgreens family,” stated Kermit Crawford, Walgreens president pharmacy, health and wellness. “BioScrip’s clinically focused community specialty pharmacies and access to additional limited distribution drug therapies, combined with Walgreens’ existing nationwide network of retail and health system pharmacies, creates a strong network of support for our core drug store business to provide specialty pharmacy solutions to our patients. This acquisition also significantly expands our nationwide reach to an additional half-million patients with chronic and complex health conditions.”
Beyond growing Walgreens’ specialty pharmacy footprint, the acquisition also will help grow Walgreens’ centralized specialty and mail-service pharmacy operations, the company stated.
The acquired community specialty pharmacy business includes a national network with 30 locations in 16 states across the United States and the District of Columbia, primarily serving HIV, oncology and transplant patients. Walgreens also acquired certain assets of BioScrip’s centralized specialty pharmacy business and traditional mail-service pharmacy business that dispenses prescriptions for, among others, Drugstore.com, which was acquired by Walgreens in June 2011.
Armada summit’s growth in attendance symbolizes growth of specialty channel
WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — A 30% rise in attendance at the Armada Specialty Pharmacy Summit is nothing to brush off — it’s as clear an indication as any that specialty pharmacy is growing and probably poised for more growth in the near future, thanks in particular to the aging population and consequential rise in the number of people living with difficult-to-treat medical conditions.
(THE NEWS: 8th annual Armada Specialty Pharmacy Summit sees 30% boost in attendance. Forthe full story, click here)
The latest events in drug development certainly would indicate this. On Thursday, GBI Research released a report showing that the market for orphan drugs, treatments for rare diseases, would increase in value from 2010’s $2.3 billion to $6 billion in 2018. This came the day after Pfizer and Protalix BioTherapeutics won Food and Drug Administration approval for a new drug for Gaucher disease. Last month, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America released a report showing that drug companies invested $49.5 billion in research and development in 2011, noting that of the 35 drugs to win approval last year, 14 were for conditions that fall under the category of those addressed by specialty pharmacy, including the first new drug for lupus since 1955.
Pharmacy retailers certainly have taken notice as well, which is why more and more of them have been getting into specialty, with Walgreens, Hy-Vee and Costco Wholesale serving as notable examples. Last month, Walgreens Infusion Services presented a study at the National Home Infusion Association’s annual conference in Phoenix, indicating that its home infusion service may deliver services for patients with hereditary angioedema, a rare and life-threatening genetic disorder, faster than emergency room visits. According to the study, more than 92% of Walgreens’ treatments of patients experiencing episodes with Dyax’s injected drug Kalbitor (ecallantide) occurred within two hours, while the average emergency room stay lasts longer than two hours.
Walgreens isn’t the only company to offer home infusion services, meaning that the providers that do offer them, as well as other specialty pharmacy services, could immensely benefit from them, as can patients who can access an expanded range of services from an expanded range of providers.