PHARMACY

NACDS reminds parents to explore insurance possibilities for their children

BY Adam Kraemer

ALEXANDRIA, Va. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores is once again partnering with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Covering Kids and Families, a program created to encourage families to enroll in low-cost or free health care coverage programs.

Throughout the United States there are a large number of uninsured children and adults that are eligible to enroll in Medicaid or the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, but unaware that these programs even exist.

In the spirit of the season, Covering Kids and Families, has issued a Back-to-School Campaign, in order to reach millions of families by spreading the word about low-cost or free health care coverage. NACDS has committed to work with the campaign, along with its partners and supporters, to encourage parents to place “enrolling their children for health care coverage” at the top of their back-to-school checklist.

In addition to holding wellness and enrollment fairs, the collaborating companies are working to spread the message further through advertisements, public service announcements and by distributing information through their own Web sites, listserv announcements, newsletters, conferences and mailings.

“Promoting awareness of insurance options is consistent with the policy agenda of NACDS, which fosters enhanced access to health care,” said NACDS president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson. “We applaud the work done by Covering Kids and Families and its efforts to educate families about Medicaid and SCHIP.”

While Medicaid is available only to certain low-income individuals and families who fit into an eligibility group, SCHIP was designed with the goal of expanding health insurance to children whose families earn too much money to be eligible for Medicaid, but not enough money to purchase private insurance. Free posters, fliers and bookmarks encouraging families to find out if their children are eligible—by calling the national toll-free hotline, 877-KIDS-NOW—can be found at <a title="www.covertheuninsured.org” href=”http://www.covertheuninsured.org/” />www.covertheuninsured.org or by calling 877-655-2889.

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Court rules that FDA labeling trumps state false-advertising laws

BY Drew Buono

WASHINGTON A potentially precedent-setting case against AstraZeneca has been dismissed by a the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, in connection to a class action lawsuit in a lower court that ruled that drug advertising based on Food and Drug Administration-approved drug labeling is exempt from state false-advertising laws.

The drug named in the lawsuit was Nexium, a medication used for treating acid reflux and heartburn. The plaintiffs claimed that the marketing used for Nexium made it look superior to another AstraZeneca proton-pump inhibitor medication, Prilosec.

In his dissenting opinion, Judge Robert Cowen pointed out that the plaintiffs were not questioning Nexium’s labeling, but rather AstraZeneca’s methods of advertising, and that “there is no risk that a successful state law claim, alleging that Nexium advertisements contain false and misleading drug comparisons, would conflict with the FDA’s approval of the statements in the Nexium labeling.”

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NACDS bid to ease MedGuide rules gains a key supporter in U.S. Senate

BY Jim Frederick

ALEXANDRIA, Va. An appeal from the National Association of Chain Drug Stores to simplify the daunting patient-education prescription drug guidelines now imposed on community pharmacies has won support from a key member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Under rules imposed by the Food and Drug Administration in March, 240 prescription products now require Medication Guides, also known as MedGuides, to help patients understand their medications. NACDS has lobbied the Senate committee for a change in the rules, noting that the MedGuides are “difficult to obtain by pharmacists in an efficient manner,” and that requiring them on so many products could overwhelm patients.

U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., a key member of the committee, responded by inserting language to simplify the MedGuide requirements into the official report that accompanies the Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2008.

“The FDA initially intended the program to produce MedGuides for a limited number of prescription products every year,” noted the committee in its report. “This unanticipated volume of Medguides creates significant administrative burdens for pharmacy providers and has the potential to diminish the usefulness of the program by overwhelming patients with multiple pages of written material.”

NACDS president and chief executive officer Steven Anderson praised Reed for having “brought to light flaws in the current MedGuides system. He called the move “an important step toward meaningful reform that will benefit patients, and the ability of community pharmacy to serve patients,” and pledged that NACDS would continue to push for a simpler MedGuide system.

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