PHARMACY

NCPA offers solutions to pharmaceutical waste in long-term care dispensing

BY Allison Cerra

ALEXANDRIA, Va. A group that represents that nation’s independent pharmacies have provided recommendations for a new law that will change the monthly dispensing cycle of prescription drugs to long-term care facilities in an effort to reduce pharmaceutical waste.

In a letter sent to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the National Community Pharmacists Association stated four recommendations that will ease the financial burden and logistical hardships that community pharmacies will face, NCPA said.

“Pharmacists share the important goal of reducing pharmaceutical waste,” said Bruce  Roberts, NCPA EVP and CEO. “But CMS must address the real concerns independent community pharmacies have with proposed long-term care prescription drug dispensing changes. Without examining how effective more frequent dispensing will be, providing more resources in a prompt fashion, creating a workable transition time period, and exempting smaller and rural independent community pharmacies, the change will likely be very disruptive. This is an example where the law of unintended consequences can be anticipated well in advance. We hope CMS is prudent in the policy that is implemented.”

The recommended changes include:

  • Conduct a scientific study of the actual benefits of reducing dispensing cycles from a monthly to weekly basis, since NCPA contends pharmacies already incorporate numerous strategies to deal with unused prescription drugs that are paid for under Medicare Part D; and/or utilize an interim stage of reducing the dispensing window to every 14 days to ascertain its impact before moving forward with a tighter window, such as a seven-day cycle or less
  • Allocate greater, timely financial compensation to help pharmacies adjust to the need to account for the extra dispensing cycles, which may entail, for example, hiring more staff or investing in additional technology.
  • Create an exemption for small pharmacies (those meeting the Small Business Administration’s definition as having revenues of $7 million or less) and those in rural areas that will likely lack the incentives or capital to continue providing long-term care services.
  • Allow for a two-year transition for these changes to occur from Jan. 1, 2012 until Jan. 1, 2014 instead of having the earlier date be the line of demarcation for full compliance, so pharmacies can effectively implement the changes without too much disruption to their long-term care services.

“Approximately 7,000 independent community pharmacies service the long-term care market, but without a more common-sense approach to limiting pharmaceutical waste their participation levels might have to drop in order to maintain financial viability,” added Roberts.

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PHARMACY

Walgreens, CVS Caremark announce new PBM network agreement

BY Allison Cerra

WOONSOCKET, R.I., and DEERFIELD, Ill. The nation’s top drug store chains have reached a new agreement in which one will continue as a participating member of the other’s pharmacy benefit management network.

Nearly two weeks after Walgreens announced that it would terminate its provider relationship with CVS Caremark’s PBM network — to which CVS Caremark responded it would terminate Walgreens’ participation in its retail pharmacy networks in 30 days for violating contract agreements — the two pharmacy giants have reached an agreement in which Walgreens will continue participating in the CVS Caremark pharmacy benefit management national retail network for existing, new or renewal plans. With the continuing participation of Walgreens, the CVS Caremark national pharmacy network will have more than 64,000 participating pharmacies, including neighborhood independent pharmacies, chain pharmacies and those located in supermarkets and other major retailers.

The companies are not disclosing the financial terms of the new contract.

“We are very pleased with the outcome of this mutual, multiyear agreement that meets our business objectives,” said Kermit Crawford, Walgreens EVP pharmacy. “The agreement makes good business sense, provides the framework we need to operate our business going forward and assures choice and convenience for the many consumers who look to us for quality pharmacy care. The agreement is good for our patients, pharmacists and shareholders, and will allow us to continue to meet the needs of our customers across the country through the CVS Caremark network.”

Per Lofberg, president of CVS Caremark’s PBM business, added, “We are pleased to have reached a mutually agreeable solution together with Walgreens that is consistent with our top priority to provide convenient access to affordable, high-quality pharmacy health care. This new contract enables Walgreens to continue participating in CVS Caremark’s PBM national pharmacy network, provides enhanced network stability, eliminates any current or long-term disruption for our clients or their members and allows us to continue to fulfill our obligation to deliver cost-effective pharmacy benefits for our clients.”

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Mylan gets approval for generic Zocor

BY Alaric DeArment

PITTSBURGH The Food and Drug Administration has approved a generic cholesterol medication made by Mylan, the company said Friday.

The FDA approved Mylan’s simvastatin tablets in the 5 mg, 10 mg, 20 mg, 40 mg and 80 mg strengths. The drug is a generic version of Merck’s Zocor.

Various versions of Simvastatin had sales of $361 million during the 12-month period ended in March, according to IMS Health.

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