PHARMACY

NACDS supports letter from Texas, Louisiana Congressmen to CMS administrator

BY Drew Buono

ALEXANDRIA, Va. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores is pleased with the efforts of the members of the Louisiana and Texas congressional delegations for their effort to increase the Medicaid dispensing fee in their states.

The delegations sent letters to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrator Kerry Weems, urging for a plan to be approved that would increase their respective pharmacy dispensing fees in the Medicaid program.

Pharmacies nationwide are facing over $8 billion in cuts to Medicaid reimbursements as a result of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005. When that bill was passed, congressional leaders expressed their intention that states would increase dispensing fees to lessen the effects of these dramatic cuts. Texas and Louisiana are among several states that responded by passing legislation to increase dispensing fees. However, CMS must give its approval for the increases to take effect.

“NACDS is very grateful to these Members of Congress for their support of higher dispensing fees,” said NACDS president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson. “The message to CMS is clear: adequate dispensing fees are necessary to help ensure that low-income patients maintain access to prescription medications.”

Lobbying for higher dispensing fees is part of NACDS’ “all branches, all levels of government” strategy for addressing the DRA cuts, which are scheduled to take effect in January 2008.

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Rite Aid announces program to help seniors with Medicare Part D

BY Michael Johnsen

CAMP HILL, Pa. With the 2008 Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan open enrollment period beginning Nov. 15, Rite Aid on Monday announced that their pharmacies will look to playing a key role in educating seniors so they can make informed decisions about the best plan choice for their prescription needs.

“Rite Aid is committed to making sure our senior patients are fully educated and understand the Medicare prescription drug benefit,” stated Mark de Bruin, Rite Aid’s executive vice president of pharmacy. “We’ve teamed up with leaders in the managed care industry to create user friendly, detailed information on the Medicare Part D benefits as well as helpful step by step tips to help them determine the best Medicare Part D plan for their prescription needs. In addition, our 14,000 Rite Aid pharmacists are available to answer questions and offer explanation on the intricacies of the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit.”

All Rite Aid pharmacies are offering a free detailed Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Guide. In addition, Rite Aid pharmacists are trained on Medicare Part D to help seniors and caregivers navigate through the numerous plan options. Rite Aid also has a special website, www.riteaid.com/medicareadvisor, which allows patients to compare drug prices and get a complete list of plan options offered in their local area. Some Plans include a link to online enrollment forms.

To help educate its pharmacy patients 65 years and older on the various Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan options, Rite Aid has partnered with AARP/United Healthcare, Aetna and Wellpoint to provide detailed and useful in-store educational materials.

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FDA committee to examine new indication for Avastin

BY Allison Cerra

WASHINGTON The FDA’s Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee is set to review Genentech’s cancer drug, according to reports.

The advisory committee, which will meet Dec. 5, is said to discuss a new indication for Genentech’s cancer drug Avastin.

The company recently submitted an additional biologics license application for Avastin (bevacizumab) to treat patients who have not received chemotherapy for certain types of breast cancer.

Genentech has experienced some backlash from wholesalers and pharmacies over the drug, which is chemically similar to the company’s drug Lucentis, used to treat macular degeneration, a severe eye condition that usually occurs at a later age.

Although Avastin is not approved for ophthalmologic use, physicians use it instead of Genentech’s chemically similar drug Lucentis (ranibizumab), which is considerably more expensive.

Chairman for the Senate Special Committee on Aging, Herb Kohl, D-Wis., opposed the company’s new policy, saying it would cost taxpayers billions of dollars through higher Medicare costs.

Genentech said it would delay implementing its new distribution policy until Jan. 1, 2008.

In the first six months of this year, Avastin had sales of $1.1 billion and Lucentis had sales of $420 million.

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