PHARMACY

Solantic offers 50 generics for $5 each

BY Michael Johnsen

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. —Solantic, a provider of urgent care, wellness and employer health services throughout Florida, extended its value proposition to patients with the offer of $5 generic prescriptions, the company announced last month.

The prescriptions encompass some 50 commonly prescribed medications, such as the popular antibiotics amoxicillin and azithromycin (commonly known as the “Z-Pak”), that are available pre-packaged and on site—with the exception of its clinics located in Walmart stores. “The whole reason to do it is really for the convenience,” Karen Bowling, Solantic CEO, told Drug Store News. According to Florida statute, physicians may dispense drugs to their patients in the regular course of their practice, provided that the physician is registered as a dispensing practitioner with the Florida Board of Medicine. Solantic, which opened its first clinics in 2002, had been providing on-site prescriptions for years, though priced at $15 per prescription, Bowling said.

The announcement of the $5 offer has really peaked patient interest. “We are always exploring ways to provide even more convenience to our patients and enhance the overall Solantic experience.… Through economies of scale, we have been able to reduce the cost of our medications and want to pass those savings on to our patients,” she said.

“What I absolutely love is figuring out how to apply retail concepts to health care,” Bowling said. “[For example], we have a three-day feel-better guarantee,” where a patient who pays for an appointmenet and still feels off-kilter three days later can visit Solantic for a free follow-up visit.

And earlier this year, Solantic launched a healthcare gift card of sorts in its Solantic Card, a cash-value card that works like a retail gift card. The Solantic Card was created as a solution for those seeking to supplement high-deductible health insurance plans, to cover copays, for the self-employed and for wellness services. It also is an attractive option for employers who don’t provide traditional health benefits but are looking for alternatives to ensure employees seek the medical care they need, Solantic said.

Averaging 3,800 sq. ft. across its freestanding stores, Solantic boasts 30 centers across the Sunshine State, including three within Walmart stores and one at the Orlando International Airport. Each location fields three board-certified physicians on average, Bowling said.

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Report: Lawmakers seek to revise patent system

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK Lawmakers in Washington have taken steps to reform the U.S. patent system, according to published reports.

Reuters reported Thursday that Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and other members Congress had reached an agreement on patent reform, introducing a bill that would allow the patent office to set its own fees and allow judges decide the importance of an infringed patent as part of a product.

Drug companies, which depend on small numbers of patents, have opposed the effort, while large computer and hardware companies have supported it, Reuters reported.

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KV’s Ethex to plead guilty to criminal charges

BY Alaric DeArment

ST. LOUIS The generic drug marketing and distribution division of KV Pharmaceuticals will plead guilty to criminal charges and close shop under a deal between KV and the Department of Justice, KV announced Thursday.

The generic drug maker said Ethex will plead guilty to two felony counts and pay $27.6 million to resolve a criminal investigation of the company that began amid allegations that it failed to file field alerts to inform regulators of manufacturing problems with the drugs dextroamphetamine and propafenone in 2008. The payment includes a fine, $2.3 million in restitution to the federal government and an administrative forfeiture of $1.8 million.

“This settlement marks an important milestone in our efforts to restore normalized business operations at KV, regain full regulatory and legal compliance and set KV on a new path moving forward,” KV interim CEO David Van Vliet said in a statement. “Management and the board have been working diligently to address this issue, and we are looking forward to having this matter resolved.”

Ethex recalled a large number of generic drugs in late 2008 and early 2009 due to problems such as possibly oversized tablets and manufacturing deficiencies. In March 2009, the Food and Drug Administration filed an injunction against KV to prevent it from making or distributing adulterated and unapproved drugs and forced it to destroy all the drugs it had recalled, forbidding it from resuming manufacturing until the FDA was satisfied that it had been brought back into compliance with regulations. KV said the current settlement would allow it to continue manufacturing once it had regained compliance with the FDA’s current good manufacturing practices regulations, also known as cGMP.

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