PHARMACY

NCPA backs Sen. Bennet’s cost of dispensing proposal

BY Allison Cerra

ALEXANDRIA, Va. The National Community Pharmacists Association announced support for language included in an amendment by Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., that calls for a study of the factors that influence a pharmacy’s cost of dispensing a Medicaid prescription.

Bennet is hoping the amendment for such a study — which would be done by the Government Accountability Office — would be included in pending legislation that would extend Medicaid funding to states, unemployment insurance and a range of tax provisions.

“It’s been over a decade since the federal government studied the pharmacy’s cost of dispensing,” said NCPA EVP and CEO Bruce Roberts of Bennet’s proposal. “In that time, the dispensing fees paid to community pharmacies in Medicaid and other government-sponsored health plans have continued to decrease while the pharmacy’s cost of dispensing is on the rise,” Roberts said, adding that the dispensing costs range from $10.50 to $11 each, while aggregate average dispensing fee paid by the states under Medicaid has been estimated to be between $4.75 and $5.02 per prescription.

“It’s also critical for Congress to include in this pending legislation an extension of current federal Medicaid payments to the states, also known as FMAP,” Roberts said. “Failure to approve this funding could force states to drastically slash Medicaid budgets, potentially cutting pharmacy reimbursement to the point of forcing independent pharmacies out of the Medicaid program or to close altogether. Under that scenario, costs to the state go up as underserved patients may be led to more expensive emergency rooms for care while good, local jobs are jeopardized.”

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FDA approves Jevtana

BY Alaric DeArment

SILVER SPRING, Md. The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new treatment for advanced prostate cancer, the agency said Thursday.

The FDA announced the approval of Sanofi-Aventis’ Jevtana (cabazitaxel), a chemotherapy drug used with the steroid prednisone. The agency said the drug was the first treatment for advanced, hormone-refractory prostate cancer that has worsened during or after treatment with docetaxel, also a chemotherapy drug used in advanced prostate cancer. Hormone refractory prostate cancer happens when prostate tumors continue to grow despite treatments meant to reduce the body’s production of the male hormone testosterone, which helps prostate tumors grow.

“Patients have few therapeutic options in this disease setting,” FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research Office of Oncology Products director Richard Pazdur said. “FDA was able to review and approve the application for Jevtana in 11 weeks, expediting the availability of this drug to men with prostate cancer.”

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Report: Oregon State Board of Pharmacy declares marijuana as drug with medical use

BY Alaric DeArment

SALEM, Ore. The makers of the 1930s documentary “Reefer Madness” would be furious at the news, but it likely will come as a relief to people with certain diseases and marijuana law-reform advocates.

The Oregon State Board of Pharmacy voted Wednesday to have marijuana classified as a drug with medical use, according to reports from a local TV station. The decision makes the state to reclassify it as such.

Under the decision, marijuana will be known as a Schedule II controlled substance, meaning that it has high potential for abuse but still has medical benefits. Previously — and still in all other states — marijuana was a Schedule I drug, meaning it had no medical benefits.

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