PHARMACY

Reports: Congressmen accuse companies of drug price gouging

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — Lawmakers are going after companies that they say have sought to take advantage of drug shortages by buying drugs in short supply and then reselling them at higher prices, according to published reports.

The Associated Press reported that Sen. John D. Rockefeller, D-W.Va., Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., had sent letters to three people whom they alleged to be operating a "shell game," obtaining licenses to create gray-market pharmacy and wholesale companies that would buy drugs from legitimate wholesalers, then resell them to other gray-market companies. In one instance, a company called Priority Healthcare allegedly bought the chemotherapy drug fluorouracil for $6.77 per vial and then sold it through its distributor, Tri-Med America, to another company for $69 per vial.

Currently, the congressmen are investigating three companies, but Cummings had sent letters to an additional 19 that may be involved in the same activity. Most of the drugs are generics used in hospitals, including chemotherapy drugs, painkillers and antibiotics, according to AP.

Cummings was quoted as saying that if the gray-market companies’ alleged activities weren’t illegal, they should be because they threatened the lives of patients. Drug shortages can result in doctors postponing treatments for serious diseases, and an investigation by AP last fall found that at least 15 people had died since 2010 due to drug shortages.


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PHARMACY

Shop ‘n Save Pharmacy offers DPCA diabetes control program

BY Allison Cerra

MINNETONKA, Minn. — Supervalu banner Shop ‘n Save Pharmacy has joined the UnitedHealth Group’s Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance.

As part of the alliance, Shop ‘n Save Pharmacy now is offering the DPCA diabetes control program at 26 locations in the St. Louis metro area. Through the program, the retailer will provide patient education and support from trained pharmacists by appointment to help people with diabetes better control their condition and reduce the risk of developing such complications as cardiovascular, kidney and eye disease. What’s more, pharmacists in these select Shop ‘n Save Pharmacy locations will conduct blood-glucose, cholesterol and blood-pressure testing services for program participants and provide them with on-the-spot results, enabling patients to get immediate feedback on their status or progress in managing their diabetes.

Currently, DPCA services are available at no additional out-of-pocket cost to participants enrolled in employer-provided health insurance plans through UnitedHealthcare and Medica in select markets.

"Supervalu is proud to partner with the Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance to help make an impact on the nation’s diabetes epidemic through equipping and empowering patients to improve their health. Shop ‘n Save pharmacists are well-positioned to improve our patients’ health due to their accessibility, training and experience in coordinating health care services," Supervalu pharmacies president Chris Dimos said.

Shop ‘n Save serves the greater St. Louis, Mo., Springfield, Ill. and Jerseyville, Ill., areas and also operates a store in Peoria, Ill.


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Diabetics encouraged to get hearing checked

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — People with diabetes are at increased risk of hearing loss, which has prompted two groups to encourage those living with the disease to have their hearing checked.

The American Diabetes Association and the Better Hearing Institute are launching the effort as part of the ADA’s Diabetes Alert Day, on Tuesday, which also includes an effort to encourage people to check if they are at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that hearing loss is about twice as common in adults with diabetes as in those without it, while a study conducted at Detroit’s Henry Ford Hospital on women agesd 60 to 75 years found that those whose disease was well-controlled had hearing levels similar to those of similar age without the disease, compared with women who did not control their disease well.

"Unaddressed hearing loss negatively affects virtually every aspect of a person’s life, from cognitive function to emotional well-being, making it all the more difficult for people with diabetes to cope with their disease," Better Hearing Institute executive director Sergei Kochkin said. "By taking our free, quick and confidential online hearing check, at Hearingcheck.org, anyone can determine if they need a comprehensive hearing test by a hearing professional."


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