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N.Y. governor seeks to curb Rx drug abuse with new legislation

BY Allison Cerra

ALBANY, N.Y. — The state of New York is looking to become a national leader in curbing prescription drug abuse.

Governor Andrew Cuomo, along with attorney general Eric Schneiderman, Senate majority leader Dean Skelos and assembly speaker Sheldon Silver, introduced new legislation that will include a series of provisions that are designed to overhaul the way prescription drugs are distributed and tracked in New York. The governor’s legislation creates an all-electronic online registry — which is being heralded as the first in the nation — to enable doctors, pharmacists and law enforcement to track controlled substances in real time and prevent excessive prescription and refill requests. What’s more, this legislation also includes a disposal program to encourage New Yorkers to safely dispose of unused prescription drugs, as well as increase education for healthcare providers about the potential for abuse of controlled substances and the proper balancing of pain management with abuse prevention.

Additional details may be found here.

"This landmark agreement will help put a stop to the growing number of fatalities resulting from overdoses on prescription drugs," Cuomo said. "We have seen too many untimely deaths as a result of prescription drug abuse, and today New York State is taking the lead in saying enough is enough. I commend attorney general Schneiderman, majority leader Skelos, and speaker Silver for their hard work in putting together this groundbreaking reform package that will help protect New Yorkers and put an end to prescription drug abuse."


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Once again, Human Genome Sciences rejects GSK’s bid

BY Allison Cerra

ROCKVILLE, Md. — GlaxoSmithKline again has extended an unsolicited tender offer to acquire Human Genome Sciences.

HGS, which previously rejected an unsolicited bid from GSK, said the latest bid, which was extended Friday, is a tender offer to acquire all of the outstanding shares of HGS for $13 per share. HGS said that the offer price is inadequate and "does not reflect the value inherent in [the company]."

"As previously announced, our board has authorized the exploration of strategic alternatives in the best interests of stockholders, including a potential sale of the company. This process continues to be active and fully underway," HGS said. "GSK declined to enter the process and, through its unsolicited tender offer, seeks to circumvent, disrupt and prematurely end the Company’s process to the disadvantage of HGS stockholders. We are committed to completing our exploration of strategic alternatives as expeditiously as possible, and the HGS board of directors recommends that HGS stockholders reject GSK’s tender offer and not tender any of their shares to GSK."

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Ohio state Medicaid decision worth a gander

BY Michael Johnsen

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — If it’s good for the goose, then it’s good for the gander. That’s what was in a recent letter from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services to the National Association of Community Pharmacists. In place of mandatory mail order and competitive bidding in covering diabetic test strips, Ohio Medicaid is opting to employ a manufacturer rebate model, where manufacturers exchange discounted pricing for a listing on Ohio’s preferred drug list. Sound familiar?

(THE NEWS: Ohio Medicaid program: Beneficiaries can continue getting diabetes testing supplies from local pharmacies. For the full story, click here)

Except in this quasi-PBM model, community pharmacy are the beneficiaries, because it means a potential increase in appropriate reimbursements.

Go ahead. Read that last sentence again. We’ll wait.

According to the letter from Ohio state Medicaid director John McCarthy, this approach will achieve the same approximate 50% savings in the cost of diabetes testing supplies that the Office of Inspector General tied to competitive bidding and mandatory mail. Only this approach not only maintains that Medicaid patient’s access to a community pharmacist, but also sets the stage for increased reimbursements to that community pharmacist. "In fact, we intend to change reimbursement to the pharmacy to be consistent with published pricing," McCarthy noted. "In many cases, this will result in a higher payment to pharmacies. After rebates, Ohio’s new cost for the supplies will be lower than current expenditures."

To summarize, you have a publicly-funded health services provider that in recent years has seen its membership rolls significantly increase (Ohio’s Medicaid spending was up 5.3% FY2007 through FY2010, though that’s compared with a 6.8% national average). And more people are expected to be eligible for Medicaid coverage through the Affordable Care Act. And many are suggesting extra federal funds to help accommodate the economy-related newly Medicaid eligible is not expected to be renewed come FY2014.

Yet, Ohio is figuring out how to help mitigate those rising cost concerns and at the same time support its community pharmacy base. More states need to pick up on this Ohio example.

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