PHARMACY

NACDS RxImpact Day shows community pharmacy wins in communications battle

BY Rob Eder

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — This is a critical time for the industry as the Federal Trade Commission is expected to decide the fate of the Express Scripts-Medco merger in the coming weeks. ESI-Medco, and the pharmacy benefit manager threat in general, were at the top of the list of what members of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores came to talk about at the organization’s annual NACDS RxImpact Day, as chains asked lawmkers to support new legislation that would bring greater transparency to PBM bookkeeping and to tell the FTC to block ESI-Medco. Interestingly enough, the PBM lobby also had been through the Capitol earlier last week. Their fly-in reportedly included some 30 delegates and about 100 meetings. By that measure it appears that community pharmacy is winning the communications battle.

(THE NEWS: NACDS RxImpact Day ‘astounding’ as pharmacy advocates conduct more than 350 congressional meetings. For the full story, click here)

Certainly, DSN did its part to help on the communications front. In support of the event, and to show its advocacy for the industry, DSN produced a special supplement especially for members of Congress. "Rx Impact: Community pharmacy brings innovation to patient care" included 20 profiles of pharmacy chains from big to small — and representative of every channel, including food, drug, mass and club stores — with a focus on what each company was doing to expand and improve patient care. Hand-delivered to all congressional members, committees and subcommittees, the special supplement, available for download at Drugstorenews.com/rximpact-2012, was sponsored by Upsher Smith and ran in retailer copies of the March 12 edition of DSN.

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PHARMACY

ScriptRelief to sponsor Single Touch Systems’ prescription, appointment reminders

BY Alaric DeArment

JERSEY CITY, N.J. — Single Touch Systems has picked a company that distributes prescription discount cards to sponsor the messages it delivers to pharmacy customers.

Single Touch announced the selection of ScriptRelief to sponsor its prescription pickup and appointment reminders sent to patients’ mobile devices. ScriptRelief provides the RxRelief pharmacy discount card program, which offers discounts on more than 50,000 prescription drugs.

"According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 50 million people throughout the United States are uninsured," Single Touch CEO James Orsini said. "Having delivered more than 300 million messages on behalf of our retail partners and clients, Single Touch established itself as a market leader in the mobile healthcare space; therefore, we are the right partner to help ScriptRelief address this growing cultural divide."


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Reports: Congressmen accuse companies of drug price gouging

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — Lawmakers are going after companies that they say have sought to take advantage of drug shortages by buying drugs in short supply and then reselling them at higher prices, according to published reports.

The Associated Press reported that Sen. John D. Rockefeller, D-W.Va., Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., had sent letters to three people whom they alleged to be operating a "shell game," obtaining licenses to create gray-market pharmacy and wholesale companies that would buy drugs from legitimate wholesalers, then resell them to other gray-market companies. In one instance, a company called Priority Healthcare allegedly bought the chemotherapy drug fluorouracil for $6.77 per vial and then sold it through its distributor, Tri-Med America, to another company for $69 per vial.

Currently, the congressmen are investigating three companies, but Cummings had sent letters to an additional 19 that may be involved in the same activity. Most of the drugs are generics used in hospitals, including chemotherapy drugs, painkillers and antibiotics, according to AP.

Cummings was quoted as saying that if the gray-market companies’ alleged activities weren’t illegal, they should be because they threatened the lives of patients. Drug shortages can result in doctors postponing treatments for serious diseases, and an investigation by AP last fall found that at least 15 people had died since 2010 due to drug shortages.


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