HEALTH

NACDS praises organized retail crime bill

BY Allison Cerra

ALEXANDRIA, Va. A bipartisan legislation that seeks to prevent organized retail crime is being applauded by the chain pharmacy industry.

The Organized Retail Theft Investigation and Prosecution Act of 2010, introduced by Reps. Bobby Scott, D-Va., and Lamar Smith, R-Texas, would create a specific task force within the Department of Justice to investigate and prosecute instances involving organized retail crime.

Responding to this proposed legislation, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores commended Reps. Scott and Smith for their leadership to curb the growing problem of organized retail crime, noting that retailers not only face such burdens as increased costs and investment to cover their losses, but consumers also face risks.

 

“Consumers are placed at risk when package tampering occurs on consumer healthcare products, such as infant formula and over-the-counter medications. These stolen products are repackaged and relabeled to falsely extend a product’s expiration date or to hide the fact that the item has been stolen,” NACDS wrote in a letter. The NACDS also urged Congress to support legislation that treats theft committed by organized, professional crime rings as a federal felony.

 

 

“We commend you again for introducing and advancing strong bipartisan legislation that will assist retailers and law enforcement to combat the serious problem of organized retail crime, and we look forward to working with you to enact this important legislation,” the letter stated.

 

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HEALTH

Drug offerings expand under Merck Helps programs

BY Alaric DeArment

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. Merck is expanding its patient assistance program, the drug maker said Wednesday.

Merck announced an expansion of the number of drugs it offers under its Merck Helps programs, including the Merck Patient Assistant program, the Merck Vaccine Patient Assistance program, the ACT program for cancer and hepatitis C drugs, and the SUPPORT program for HIV and AIDS drugs. The program provides medicines and vaccines free of charge to eligible patients, primarily the uninsured, who make up to 400% of the federal poverty level and can’t afford Merck drugs without assistance.

 

“Merck has historically recognized the critical need for people to have access to the prescription medicines and vaccines they require, even if they lose their insurance,” Merck EVP and chief medical officer Michael Rosenblatt said. “Our patient assistance programs now provide access to even more medicines for chronic conditions like asthma, diabetes and high blood pressure, allowing us to reach more people in need.”

 

 

Merck also said that its philanthropic arm, the Merck Company Foundation, made a grant to NeedyMeds, a nonprofit group that helps people who can’t afford medicines or healthcare costs by making information about assistance programs available. NeedyMeds plans to use the grant to translate its website into Spanish.

 

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FDA approves multiple sclerosis drug Gilenya

BY Alaric DeArment

SILVER SPRING, Md. The Food and Drug Administration has approved a drug for reducing relapses in patients with multiple sclerosis.

 

The FDA announced Wednesday the approval of Swiss drug maker Novartis’ Gilenia (fingolimod) capsules, saying it was the first oral drug that can slow the progression of disability in patients with MS and offered an alternative to injected drugs.

 

 

Around 400,000 people in the United States and 2.1 million worldwide have MS, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

 

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