PHARMACY

U of Arizona Cancer Center partners with Walgreens on specialty pharmacy

BY Michael Johnsen

PHOENIX — The University of Arizona Cancer Center, in partnership with Walgreens, last month opened a specialty outpatient pharmacy on-site to meet the needs of its patients.

Located on the first floor of the University of Arizona Cancer Center- North Campus, the Walgreens specialty pharmacy offers patients access to prescription medications in the same place they go for doctor’s visits and chemotherapy infusions. The approximately 800-sq.-ft. Walgreens pharmacy carries not only cancer medications but also all the regular medications a patient might be taking, making it a one-stop shop. Visitors to the pharmacy receive an electronic pager that vibrates and lights up when their prescription is ready. That way, patients have the option of staying in the pharmacy waiting area or heading down the hall to grab a cup of coffee or browse the cancer center’s boutique, Stumbo said.

The pharmacy helps the University of Arizona Cancer Center to meet its goal of providing comprehensive cancer care for its patients, stated Patti Stumbo, the center’s director of oncology services. “Being an [National Cancer Institute]-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, we’re always on the lookout for what is the latest and the greatest and what our other centers doing for patient care,” Stumbo said. “Having a specialty pharmacy was beginning to crop up more and more.”

As a specialty oncology pharmacy, the Walgreens at the University of Arizona Cancer Center—North Campus offers cancer medications that may not be available at typical retail pharmacies. The pharmacy helps the cancer center prepare for the future of cancer care, in which prescription bottles might replace IVs for some cancer patients.

While chemotherapy infusions remain the most common cancer treatment, oral chemotherapy agents — in the forms of capsules, pills or liquids — are becoming increasingly available as an alternative to infusion therapies, and many new oral options are expected to go on the market in the next three to five years, noted Rafael Diaz, associate VP pharmacy and supply chain at the University of Arizona Medical Center—University Campus. “The new drugs in the pipeline are going to be oral, so that changes our business from an infusion business to an oral business,” he said.

Because the Walgreens pharmacists work right in the cancer center, they have easy access to physicians and to pharmacists from the center’s infusion pharmacy, where infusions are prepared, if questions about a patient’s treatment arise, Stumbo added.

The Walgreens pharmacy at the University of Arizona Cancer Center is one of about 10 Walgreens collaborations with academic medical centers across the United States. The Cancer Center decided to pursue the partnership after learning of successes of similar successful partnerships at academic medical facilities, such as the Ohio State University Hospital and Stanford Cancer Center, Diaz said.

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PHARMACY

Lilly, Amylin terminate diabetes alliance

BY Alaric DeArment

SAN DIEGO — Eli Lilly and Amylin Pharmaceuticals are ending their diabetes-drug alliance, the two companies said Tuesday.

Indianapolis-based Lilly and San Diego-based Amylin said they would terminate their alliance concerning exenatide, the active ingredient in the injected diabetes drug Byetta and its long-acting version, Bydureon, currently under investigation.

As part of the agreement, Amylin will take full responsibility for worldwide development and commercialization of exenatide, starting in the United States on Nov. 30, and progressing to all other markets by the end of 2013. The companies also will resolve a lawsuit that Amylin filed earlier this year in response to a diabetes drug-development partnership between Lilly and Boehringer Ingelheim.

In addition, Amylin will pay $250 million upfront to Lilly and revenue-sharing payments equal to 15% of global net sales on exenatide products, up to $1.2 billion plus accrued interest. Amylin’s revenue-sharing agreement will terminate if Bydureon doesn’t receive Food and Drug Administration approval by June 30, 2014, and Amylin will thereafter pay Lilly 8% of global net sales on exenatide products. Amylin also will make a milestone payment of $150 million to Lilly if the FDA approves a once-monthly formulation of exenatide, which currently is in phase-2 clinical trials.


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NCPA: Latest FUL list from CMS a ‘disaster in the making’

BY Michael Johnsen

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — In response to a new second set of limits on generic drug pharmacy reimbursement that recently were proposed by federal Medicaid officials, the National Community Pharmacists Association on Tuesday reiterated its concerns with what the group characterized as the "flawed methodology" being used by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to determine the payment caps.

NCPA requested a meeting with CMS officials on the matter.
 
Last month, NCPA sent a letter to CMS about the average manufacturer price data the agency is utilizing to calculate new caps, known as federal upper Llimits, on Medicaid pharmacy reimbursement for many generic drugs. On Oct. 21, another set of draft FULs were published, but no adjustments were made to these cuts. In response NCPA earlier this month sent a second letter to CMS expressing a sense of urgency to address the issue before "irreparable harm" befalls the prescription drug benefit of Medicaid and possibly other health plans that follow suit.

"As was the case with the first list released by CMS in September, we continue to respectfully request that CMS not finalize the draft FULs due to serious shortcomings that would result in devastating economic consequences for small business community pharmacies that serve Medicaid patients," the letter reads. "AMP is not an accurate representation of the acquisition costs of small community pharmacies. This is evidenced by the fact that, even at 175% of the weighted average AMP, our cost of goods remains much higher than the FULs for many products on this list."

In an analysis of the latest FUL list, NCPA determined that on 62% of the medicines, reimbursements fell short of average pharmacy acquisition costs. What’s more, the FULs that were lower than a typical independent’s acquisition costs were for more highly utilized prescription drugs than those that were higher than their acquisition costs.

“These draft FULs are a disaster in the making for Medicaid recipients and the independent community pharmacists who serve them," NCPA CEO Douglas Hoey said. "In order to prevent a scenario whereby independent community pharmacies are forced to consider limiting their participation in Medicaid or leaving the program altogether, CMS should do three things. First, scrap the draft FULs. Second, produce a final AMP definition to serve as a guide for future FULs. Third, restart the implementation process with an understanding that low federal reimbursements, coupled with state Medicaid cuts, endanger Medicaid patients’ access to generic prescription drugs," he said. "Those objectives can be achieved while still following the intent of the Affordable Care Act, which mandates the revised reimbursement formula."

To view a copy of the letter, click here.


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