Senate passes bill for tamper-resistant prescription delay
WASHINGTON Now, it’s up to the White House.
Pharmacy leaders breathed a cautious sigh of relief today with passage in the U.S. Senate last night of a bill that would delay for six months a looming requirement that all Medicaid prescriptions to be written on tamper-resistant prescription paper. But with no time left to lose before the Oct. 1 deadline originally imposed by Congress for implementation of the new prescription pad rule, leaders at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the National Community Pharmacists Association immediately set their sights on convincing President Bush to sign the measure into law before Monday.
Following passage in the House of a companion measure, the Senate on Thursday night approved H.R. 3668, extending several health care programs set to expire Oct. 1. Of critical interest to pharmacy and physician groups, it also allows for a six-month delay in the tamper-proof mandate to give both professions—and state Medicaid administrators nationwide—a chance to obtain the needed pads and adapt to the new requirement.
The original mandate was written into an Iraq war funding bill with little notice, requiring all Medicaid prescriptions to be written on special tamper-resistant pads beginning Oct. 1. The rapidly approaching deadline raised alarm bells among dozens of pharmacy, physician and patient advocacy groups in recent weeks, and spawned an increasingly intense lobbying campaign to turn aside the regulation.
“Community pharmacists are aware of the problems associated across the country with Medicaid fraud,” said Bruce Roberts, executive vice president and chief executive officer of NCPA. “With a stroke of the President’s pen, the health care community will have adequate lead time to make the use of tamper-resistant pads a reality. I urge President Bush to move swiftly to approve this delay before the October 1st effective date of the law.”
NACDS president and chief executive officer Steven Anderson praised the bipartisan leadership of Ohio Senators George Voinovich, a Republican, and Democrat Sherrod Brown, for addressing the tamper-resistant requirement in a stand-alone bill earlier this week—a bill that was superseded by the extension legislation passed last night. “The determined efforts of Senator Brown, Senator Voinovich, as well as Senate Leadership, were crucial to achieving passage of this six-month delay.
“We greatly appreciate their support for community pharmacy and the Medicaid patients we serve,” Anderson said. “We also applaud the support of Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., and ranking member Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, who supported inclusion of the delay in the final health extenders legislation.”
Vector One finds antidepressant scripts for teens fell in last four years
YARDLEY, Pa. Total prescriptions of antidepressant drugs for teenagers age 13 to 17 decreased nearly 18 percent between July 2003 and July 2007, according to Verispan’s Vector One.
On the other hand, antidepressant prescriptions for patients 18 and older have grown about 13 percent during the same four-year period.
Verispan’s Physician Drug & Diagnosis Audit reports that visits by teenagers to physicians for depression decreased 23 percent in the past four years. Visits by teenage males dropped by 5 percent more than females. The percentage of teenage visits to doctors for depression where a prescription was issued dropped from 85 percent in the 12 months ending July 2004 to 69 percent in the 12 months ending July 2007.
NFID and CDC to spend $5 million on flu information
WASHINGTON The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases and the Centers for Disease Control will spend about $5 million combined to spread the word about obtaining a flu vaccination, according to PRWeek. There will be about 132 million doses of the vaccine for this flu season and these two organizations want to make sure they do not go to waste.
Both realize that the money they’re spending is not a lot, but they hope it’s a start to help prolong the season of vaccinations by months compared to previous years. Previously, the season for vaccinations essentially ended with the Thanksgiving holiday, explained Len Novick, executive director of the NFID. But with the addition of the week’s events, both groups are hoping to better spread awareness efforts deeper into the year and help keep the issue relevant through the New Year. Also, the goal is to spread the word to people who usually do not receive a flu vaccination. This is aimed at hopefully controlling the spread of the virus.
The CDC also plans on working with the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The NFID plans on working with the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, as well as the American Association of Retired Persons.