PHARMACY

NACDS supports Affordable Medicines Utilization Act of 2011

BY Allison Cerra

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Bipartisan legislation recently introduced to the Senate has received endorsement from a group representing the retail pharmacy industry.

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores said that the Affordable Medicines Utilization Act of 2011, introduced by Sens. Scott Brown, R-Mass.; Ron Wyden, D-Ore.; and John McCain, R-Ariz., "will provide incentives that will encourage state programs to efficiently use their healthcare dollars through increased use of more cost-efficient generic drugs while at the same time generating savings for not only the state but for the patient as well,” NACDS wrote in a letter.

NACDS did, however, caution against "evaluating spending on prescription drugs in a vacuum."

The bill seeks to offer states incentives to use generic drugs by allowing states to temporarily keep a portion of the savings, the senators said.

“With our nation in a financial crisis and as federal and state healthcare expenditures continue to rise, we must ensure that our healthcare programs are efficiently managed,” McCain said. “A recent study found that the federal/state Medicaid program potentially overspends by more than $300 million per year on brand-name drugs when a cheaper generic drug equivalent is available. This bipartisan proposal incentivizes state Medicaid programs to substitute generics for more expensive brand-name drugs, introducing real competition for reimbursement dollars and saving taxpayers’ hard-earned money.”

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Patients using mail-order pharmacy for new statin Rxs achieved better cholesterol control in study

BY Alaric DeArment

OAKLAND, Calif. — Patients in northern California using Kaiser Permanente’s services who received new prescriptions for statin drugs through mail-order pharmacy showed better control of their cholesterol in the first three to 15 months following the start of therapy than those who obtained them from Kaiser Permanente Northern California pharmacies, according to a new study.

The 100,298-patient study, published online in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, found that 85% of patients using mail-order pharmacy achieved their desired cholesterol levels, compared with 74.2% of those who used the local pharmacy.

“While the findings of this study should be confirmed in a randomized controlled trial, they provide new evidence that mail-order pharmacy use may be associated with improved care and outcomes for patients for risk factors with cardiovascular disease,” lead study author and Kaiser Permanente Division of Research investigator Julie Schmittdiel said. “Though mail order may not be right for all patients, this study shows that it is one possible tool in the broader healthcare system-level toolbox that can help patients meet their medication needs.”

Schmittdiel said the study was the first to examine whether mail-order pharmacy use is related to improved cardiovascular risk factor outcomes.

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Pharmacists urge officials to reject Oregon pharmacy reimbursement reductions

BY Michael Johnsen

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The National Community Pharmacists Association on Friday announced “grave concerns” regarding a purported Oregon Medicaid plan amendment that would, according to the association, renege on a pact the state previously reached with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and cut Medicaid pharmacy reimbursement for the second time this year.

Earlier this year, CMS approved a state plan amendment proposal by Oregon that reduced pharmacy reimbursement by basing it on the pharmacy’s average acquisition cost instead of the average wholesale price. This cut was mitigated by an accompanying increase in its dispensing fee to better reflect pharmacy costs. In discussions with the pharmacy community, CMS has indicated that a shift to an AAC-based reimbursement methodology needs to be considered simultaneously with an enhanced dispensing fee.

In a letter to CMS this week, NCPA stated it was “cautiously optimistic that a switch to AAC could be an appropriate method on which to base pharmacist reimbursement as long as such a proposal would be considered simultaneously with an enhanced dispensing fee.”

However, Oregon’s latest SPA would reduce the new dispensing fee and set a “dangerous precedent,” the NCPA said. “In effect, states could win CMS approval for a shift to the lower, AAC-reimbursement benchmark by also agreeing to increase pharmacy dispensing fees. Then the state could later pare back the dispensing fee, further reducing pharmacy overall reimbursement and potentially jeopardizing Medicaid patients’ access to pharmacies, some of which may be forced to leave the Medicaid program rather than dispense at a financial loss.”

“Independent community pharmacists are the backbone of the Medicaid drug benefit and often serve rural and urban areas that have few, if any, other pharmacy providers,” NCPA EVP and CEO Douglas Hoey said. “Local pharmacists can help states reduce their Medicaid costs by promoting low-cost generic drugs, where appropriate, and through face-to-face counseling on the proper use of medication. Unfortunately, this proposal is a step in the wrong direction and turns a blind eye toward the health needs of Medicaid patients. For these and other reasons, CMS should not approve it.”

Currently, there are 160 independent community pharmacies in Oregon, NCPA reported.

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