NACDS recognizes key Representative’s role in fight against CMS final rule
WASHINGTON The National Association of Chain Drug Stores applauded Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr., D-N.J., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, for his continued support of pharmacy as he introduced H.R. 3700, the House companion bill to S. 1951, The Fair Medicaid Drug Payment Act of 2007, which was introduced by Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont.
The legislation would repair several damaging policies set by the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 and its misapplication by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which imposed deep payment cuts on pharmacists for generic drugs dispensed to Medicaid beneficiaries. The final rule issued by CMS on Medicaid prescription drug reimbursement established an average manufacturer price as the basis for the calculation of Medicaid payments to pharmacies for “multiple source” (primarily generic) prescription medications.
Pharmacy leaders predict the cost-cutting provisions of the DRA—along with the new drug pricing system—will cost U.S. pharmacies a total of $8 billion in reduced Medicaid dispensing fees over the next five years. They also assert the new payment model—which is set to take full effect Jan. 30, 2008—will end up costing U.S. taxpayers more for Medicaid prescriptions by reducing financial incentives for pharmacists to dispense generics.
“Medicaid patients are often our nation’s most vulnerable health care consumers, and they rely on pharmacists to play an important role in the delivery of much-needed medications,” said Pallone. “The Fair Medicaid Drug Payment Act of 2007 will help ensure that these patients are able to fill their prescriptions at the pharmacy they choose, and will prevent pharmacists who serve high Medicaid populations from closing their doors.”
The legislation in both houses encourages the use of generics through important pharmacy provisions such as an improved definition of AMP that better reflects acquisition costs in community retail pharmacies; use of a pricing benchmark based on average acquisition costs; and setting federal upper limits (FULs) only when there are three or more (rather than two or more) equivalent drug products on the market.
“We praise Chairman Pallone for his leadership and initiative to develop a legislative solution that will help maintain the current level of vital pharmacy services available in low-income communities,” said NACDS president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson. “With prior bold moves by friends of pharmacy, and now the support of committee and subcommittee chairmen in both chambers of Congress, we continue to make progress on our all-levels, all-branches of government campaign to mitigate these cuts and their effects on pharmacy and patients.”
Vector One finds antidepressant scripts for teens fell in last four years
YARDLEY, Pa. Total prescriptions of antidepressant drugs for teenagers age 13 to 17 decreased nearly 18 percent between July 2003 and July 2007, according to Verispan’s Vector One.
On the other hand, antidepressant prescriptions for patients 18 and older have grown about 13 percent during the same four-year period.
Verispan’s Physician Drug & Diagnosis Audit reports that visits by teenagers to physicians for depression decreased 23 percent in the past four years. Visits by teenage males dropped by 5 percent more than females. The percentage of teenage visits to doctors for depression where a prescription was issued dropped from 85 percent in the 12 months ending July 2004 to 69 percent in the 12 months ending July 2007.
NFID and CDC to spend $5 million on flu information
WASHINGTON The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases and the Centers for Disease Control will spend about $5 million combined to spread the word about obtaining a flu vaccination, according to PRWeek. There will be about 132 million doses of the vaccine for this flu season and these two organizations want to make sure they do not go to waste.
Both realize that the money they’re spending is not a lot, but they hope it’s a start to help prolong the season of vaccinations by months compared to previous years. Previously, the season for vaccinations essentially ended with the Thanksgiving holiday, explained Len Novick, executive director of the NFID. But with the addition of the week’s events, both groups are hoping to better spread awareness efforts deeper into the year and help keep the issue relevant through the New Year. Also, the goal is to spread the word to people who usually do not receive a flu vaccination. This is aimed at hopefully controlling the spread of the virus.
The CDC also plans on working with the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The NFID plans on working with the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, as well as the American Association of Retired Persons.