Praising senator, pharmacy groups plead for patient choice in Tricare legislation
ALEXANDRIA, Va. Speaking with one voice, the nation’s largest chain and independent pharmacy groups gave a thumbs-up Monday to recent efforts by Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., to preserve the right of military members and their dependents to obtain their prescriptions through a retail pharmacy without penalty.
The message of support came from the National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the National Community Pharmacists Association. The two organizations co-authored a letter thanking Lautenberg for his continued leadership in congressional efforts to protect Tricare beneficiaries’ access to retail pharmacies.
The joint letter applauded the New Jersey Democrat for offering a Sense of Congress amendment expressing the Senate’s support for beneficiary choice in the military health program, which covers some 9 million members of the military and their families. Lautenberg has been a leading voice in Congress for legislation that would ensure Tricare beneficiaries do not face increased cost-sharing if they choose to fill their prescriptions and/or obtain other professional health services at a retail pharmacy, rather than at a base pharmacy or through mail order.
“We believe the choice of where to obtain prescription medications is best left to Tricare beneficiaries,” stated the letter, jointly signed by NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson and NCPA acting EVP and CEO Douglas Hoey.
ATricare co-payment freeze provision already passed the House of Representatives under the leadership of House Armed Service Committee chairman Ike Skelton, D-Mo., and ranking member Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif. That measure prohibited a pharmacy co-pay increase. Members of the Senate are slated to debate their version of the Defense Authorization bill, which includes funding for Tricare, but the legislation likely won’t be taken up until after the November elections.
“As the Defense authorization moves towards final enactment, we will be seeking language specifically prohibiting co-pay increases to best protect beneficiaries’ access to their retail pharmacies,” noted NACDS and NCPA in their letter.
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Re-evaluating Chinese currency remains a bad idea
WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT Herbert Hoover is alive and well — and picking up his prescriptions at the local drug store.
(THE NEWS: Retailers urge Congress to reject Chinese currency legislation. For the full story, click here.)
Of course, he isn’t. But if he were, he might have some advice to offer current members of Congress and occupants of the White House based on his experience with the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930, which attempted to rescue the U.S. economy by imposing tariffs on imported goods, but instead ignited a trade war that many historians blame for deepening the Great Depression.
The legislation to impose tariffs on Chinese imports as a way to force it to revalue the yuan is based on the assumption that China manipulates its currency to make its manufactured goods more competitive in the U.S. market. Thus, the reasoning goes, if China were to revalue the yuan, it would help American manufacturers by making Chinese imports more expensive and American goods more competitive in China, thereby helping to ease the U.S.-China trade deficit, which totaled $226.9 billion last year and has so far reached more than $145 billion this year, according to U.S. Census data.
But it’s not that simple. In 1930, the United States manufactured most of its own consumer goods; but that’s no longer true, and the bulk of consumer goods, from toys to digital cameras, now come from China. Also frequently lost in the melee is the fact that most of the supposedly Chinese goods are not Chinese at all, but rather products with American, Japanese, Korean and European brands that are assembled in China. Unlike in the 1970s and 1980s, when such Japanese companies as Sony were eating the lunch of such American counterparts as General Electric, the “Made in China” label now graces the products of both.
For that reason, if legislators imposed big tariffs on Chinese goods or if China dramatically revalued the yuan, it would simply force retailers to pass the extra costs to consumers. So after picking up his prescriptions, Hoover would find the digital camera he had planned to buy from behind the counter noticeably more expensive. While this would not likely lead to another Great Depression, it would certainly diminish consumers’ purchasing power.
As for the manufacturing jobs, many experts have said they would simply migrate to cheaper countries rather than returning to the United States. This trend already is under way in textiles, as many clothing companies have started moving factories from China to such countries as Bangladesh in response to the increasing costs of manufacturing in China.
Perrigo seeks approval for generic Zegerid OTC, Schering-Plough files suit
ALLEGAN, Mich. Perrigo has filed for regulatory approval of a generic version of an over-the-counter medication for frequent heartburn, prompting a lawsuit from the branded version’s manufacturer.
The company announced Friday that it had filed for approval for omeprazole and sodium bicarbonate in the 20 mg/1,100 mg strength. The medication is a generic version of Zegerid OTC, made by Schering-Plough HealthCare, a subsidiary of Merck.
Schering-Plough filed a lawsuit Monday alleging patent infringement in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey to prevent Perrigo’s commercialization of the product.
Zegerid had sales of around $60 million during the 12-month period ended in the “most recent month,” according to SymphonyIRI Group.
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