PHARMACY

NCPA: Nearly 1,500 community pharmacies participate in Dispose My Meds program

BY Allison Cerra

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The National Community Pharmacists Association and Sharps Compliance said community pharmacies nationwide are ready for consumers to safely dispose of unused patient medications.

According to the NCPA and Sharps Compliance, there are nearly 1,500 pharmacies involved in their Dispose My Meds program, which launched in 2010. Many of the pharmacies are promoting their services in the Dispose My Meds campaign just in time for Earth Day this Sunday, April 22. At participating pharmacies, consumers may be able to dispose of unused medications with postage-paid envelopes or participate in onsite programs where pharmaceuticals are collected and disposed of properly.

"Safe and practical disposal programs make a real difference in addressing this growing public health concern," said Lonny Wilson, NCPA president and pharmacy owner in Oklahoma City. "I commend these pharmacies for stepping up for the good of their communities and their patients. And, hopefully, consumers will gain a greater appreciation of their local community pharmacy."


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Consumer groups go on record in support of retail pharmacy versus ESI-Medco merger

BY Michael Johnsen

PITTSBURGH — The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania on Wednesday accepted an amici curiae from the Consumer Federation of America, the National Consumers League, the National Legislative Association on Prescription Drug Prices and U.S. PIRG (a federation of 28 nonprofit, nonpartisan state Public Interest Research Groups) on behalf of retail pharmacy plaintiffs in their suit to dismantle the Express Scripts-Medco merger.

"Amici have long been concerned by the egregious, deceptive and anticompetitive conduct of [pharmacy benefit managers]," the groups noted. "Notwithstanding any cost benefits [pharmacy benefit managers] offer, they often harm consumers by engaging in deceptive practices, eliminating access to vital healthcare services and reducing consumer choice."

The amici made a three-pronged argument against the merger — notably that the resulting super-PBM would represent an increase in consumer costs and a decline in consumer choice. The third concern identified by the amici regarded the potential for an ESI-Medco combination to dominate the business of specialty pharmacy. "This incredible consolidation of the specialty market is of particular concern to consumers given the fact that specialty drugs are expected to be the single greatest cost-driver in pharmaceutical spending over the next decade," the groups wrote. "The cost of specialty drugs is rising rapidly, increasing by 19.6% in 2010 to reach as high as 27.5% by 2013. Meanwhile, by 2016, eight of the top 10 prescription drugs are expected to be specialty."

The brief was filed in support of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the National Community Pharmacists Association and nine individual retail pharmacy operators’ suit to reverse the ESI-Medco merger that was approved by the Federal Trade Commission at the beginning of April.

The judge presiding in that case, U.S. District judge Cathy Bissoon, entertained arguments from both the plaintiffs and defendants on April 10, but has yet to rule in the case.

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Bartell’s plans new store in North Bend, Wash.

BY Alaric DeArment

SEATTLE — Bartell Drugs will open its 59th store next year, the regional retail pharmacy chain said Thursday.

Bartell’s, based in Seattle, announced plans to open a store in North Bend, Wash., in mid-2013. The company said it would be the chain’s first "all-new store" to showcase its new store concept, which the company unveiled in September 2011.

The new store concept includes features such as an "Urban Market" section that highlights unique and locally produced products; a "Fresh Beauty" cosmetics section with natural and organic product lines; a "Wellness Courtyard" with vitamins, supplements and healthy beverages; and a "Sweets & Snacks" area with new displays and lighting. The company plans to convert six stores to the new format this year.

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