PHARMACY

NCPA reaches out to CMS regarding violations of ‘prompt pay’ provisions

BY Allison Cerra

ALEXANDRIA, Va. The National Community Pharmacists Association is urging the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to instruct Medicare Part D plan providers to stop the “improper and illegal imposition of extraneous fees and charges on Part D network pharmacies.”

The letter states that many Part D plans are “finding ways to charge new fees to pharmacies, seemingly as a means of financially recouping the loss from the ‘float’ they enjoyed from holding onto pharmacies’ money for long periods.” NCPA said this has occurred since new “prompt pay” provisions took effect Jan. 1 and that community pharmacies have reported several additional fees and failures put forth by these providers as a way to “circumvent the intent” of the new provisions.

“This year community pharmacies have seen a flurry of unexpected, dubious, additional fees and charges from a number of Medicare Part D plans that appear to violate federal prompt pay requirements,” said Bruce Roberts, NCPA EVP and CEO. “It’s imperative that CMS use its authority to end these practices that fly in the face of Congress’ original intent behind the legislation.”

“We appreciate those plans that have taken steps to comply with both the spirit and the letter of the prompt pay law,” Roberts added. “Unfortunately, other Part D plans seem to be using financial gimmicks to further line their pockets at the expense of community pharmacies already grappling with declining reimbursements.”

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PHARMACY

FDA approves extended-release painkiller

BY Alaric DeArment

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. The Food and Drug Administration has approved a regulatory approval application for a pain drug made by CombinatoRx, the drug maker announced Tuesday.

The FDA approved Exalgo (hydromorphone hydrochloride) extended-release tablets, for the management of moderate to severe pain in patients who need continuous pain relief for long periods of time.

Covidien will pay CombinatoRx a $40 million milestone payment for the approval and is eligible to receive tiered royalties on sales of the drug.

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Surescripts: E-prescription use jumps 181%

BY Allison Cerra

ALEXANDRIA, Va. E-prescription adoption and use in the United States has skyrocketed over the past two years, according to a new report developed by an e-prescription network.

Surescripts, which announced the release of its 2009 national progress report on e-prescribing titled “Advancing Healthcare in America,” measures the growth of e-prescribing from 2007 through 2009 across a number of categories. Among the key findings: E-prescription use increased 181%, from 68 million in 2008 to 191 million e-prescriptions in 2009.

Additional findings included:

  • Prescription Benefit Information: The number of electronic requests for prescription benefit information more than tripled, from 79 million in 2008 to 303 million in 2009
  • Prescription History Information: The number of prescription histories delivered to prescribers grew more than five-fold, from 16 million in 2008 to 81 million in 2009
  • Prescribers: The number of prescribers routing prescriptions electronically grew from 74,000 at the end of 2008 to 156,000 by the end of2009 — representing 25 percent of all office-based prescribers
  • Pharmacies: At the end of 2009, approximately 85% of community pharmacies and six of the largest mail-order pharmacies in the United States were able to receive prescriptions electronically

Surescripts president and CEO Harry Totonis said the report emphasizes the benefits of e-prescribing.

“For e-prescription use to jump from 6% to 18% in one year indicates several things,” said Harry Totonis, president and CEO of Surescripts. “First, that the federal government’s leadership and incentive structures are working. Second, that the benefits of e-prescribing — including increased safety, lower costs and increased efficiency — are widely understood. And last, that the nation’s experience with e-prescribing — in building the network and the ecosystem to support it — provides a definitive road map for how to drive adoption of a broader electronic health record for all Americans.”

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