PHARMACY

NCPA seeks antitrust enforcement overhaul from Senate

BY Allison Cerra

ALEXANDRIA, Va. An industry group representing the nation’s independent pharmacies has submitted recommendations to a senatorial committee regarding the enforcement of antitrust laws.

The National Community Pharmacists Association offered three recommendations for strengthening antitrust enforcement measures — ones that positively would affect the independent community pharmacies it represents, NCPA said. The statement, which was submitted to the Senate’s Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights for its oversight hearing, offered the following advice:

  • Take enforcement action in response to allegations from independent community pharmacies and their patients against retail pharmacy chains that have repeatedly used confidential information to steer patients away from independent community pharmacies to their own retail or mail-order pharmacies;
  • Encourage and support ongoing federal and state efforts to regulate the anticompetitive business practices of pharmacy benefit managers that increase their profits at the expense of patients, pharmacies and plan sponsors; and
  • Revise the 1996 Antitrust Enforcement Policy in Health Guidelines to include pharmacist collaboration in emerging healthcare models that allow for reimbursement of services rendered without running afoul of antitrust rules.

“The rapidly changing healthcare marketplace requires more vigilance and flexibility from the federal government, especially in areas that impact independent community pharmacies and their patients,” said Joseph H. Harmison, NCPA president. “Not only will these changes help patients have greater access to affordable, transparent, streamlined prescription drug services at independent community pharmacies, but they come at a critical time with the enactment of comprehensive healthcare-reform legislation and the retirement of baby boomers that is causing Medicare to grow rapidly. The status quo is simply not sustainable, but if the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice act on these common-sense recommendations, the future will be.”  

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PHARMACY

Medco Health Solutions awarded by The Joint Commission

BY Alaric DeArment

FRANKLIN LAKES, N.J, Pharmacy benefit manager Medco Health Solutions has received a nod for its home care and pharmacy dispensing services from a healthcare standards and accrediting body, Medco said Tuesday.

The PBM said it received the Gold Seal of Approval from The Joint Commission. The recognition applies to services offered to clients and health plan members by Medco’s dispensing and call center pharmacies, and Medco said the approval places it among the leading organizations in its category. The organization’s accreditation process includes a review of 129 standards across 13 areas of focus, including treatment and services, rights and ethics, medication management and information management.

“This independent review validates the progress we have made in driving ever-higher standards in clinical excellence as we focus on closing the gaps in care for patients with chronic and complex conditions – patients who account for 96% of all drug spending and 75% of all medical costs,” Medco president and COO Kenny Klepper said. “The fact that in our reaccreditation The Joint Commission consistently found a high level of service across so many facilities speaks to the diligence and professionalism of Medco people at every level across our company.”

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Astellas completes acquisition of OSI

BY Alaric DeArment

TOKYO Japanese drug maker Astellas Pharma has completed its acquisition of OSI Pharmaceuticals, Astellas said Tuesday.

The $4 billion acquisition, announced in May, gives Astellas access to such drugs as the cancer drug Tarceva (erlotinib), which OSI co-markets with Roche division Genentech. OSI has lately been enrolling subjects for a late-stage clinical trial of OSI-906, a treatment for patients with adrenocortical carcinoma, a rare cancer of the adrenal gland, whose disease has spread to other parts of the body.

OSI will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Astellas through Astellas US Holding, a holding company.

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