Latebreakers

May 22, 2006

With the government more an adversary than an ally these days andalso the biggest payer of drugs in the country, NACDS chairman TonyCivello vowed that the association would "get confrontational" ifnecessary to push its agenda. Calling 2005 a year with fewpositives, Civello acknowledged that the association is in part toblame for the bind community pharmacy is in now. Also at fault:pharmacy's fragmented voice, which makes it a weak link vis-?-visdrugmakers and PBMs. To remedy this situation, he said, NACDS andNCPA have formed a coalition to present a unified front forcommunity pharmacy. He made these remarks at the association'sannual meeting in West Palm Beach, Fla., this month.

NACDS chairman comes out swinging

First drug for Pompe disease approved

Two wholesalers to walk down the aisle

The ranks of regional wholesalers just shrank some more. Cardinal Health has announced it is acquiring F. Dohmen Co., the fifth-largest drug wholesaler, which serves 2,400 community pharmacies in the Midwest and South. Cardinal said the two companies have complementary businesses and geographies. Terms of the sale, which is expected to be completed by June 1, were not disclosed.

New indication for growth hormone

Growth hormone Genotropin (somatropin [rDNA origin] for injection), from Pfizer, has been approved by the FDA for the long-term treatment of growth failure associated with Turner syndrome in patients whose bones are still capable of growing. Approval was based on two randomized, open-label trials in 38 pediatric patients who were treated for 12 months. Genotropin was approved earlier for the treatment of growth failure in children caused by inadequate secretion of endogenous growth hormone, and for the treatment of children who are considered "small for gestational age" (SGA) and those who have Prader-Willi syndrome. Turner syndrome is a rare growth disorder that affects 60,000 girls and women in the United States.

NCPA-Pfizer Digest finds more independents out there

There were 24,500 independent pharmacies last year, up from 24,345 in 2004, according to preliminary results from the latest NCPA-Pfizer Digest. Independent pharmacies dispensed an average of 63,500 Rxs annually, up from 59,432 in 2004. The rate of generic dispensing rose to 56%, compared with 53% the year before. The final report will be released in October. The digest does not include the impact of Medicare Part D. However, another NCPA survey found Part D has forced 60% of independents to secure outside financing.

CMS rule guarantees Part D continuity

CMS has ruled that when Medicare Part D plans impose new restrictions or eliminate a drug from their formularies, they must continue coverage for the remainder of the year on any beneficiaries who were already taking the medication. There are some exceptions to the continuity-of-coverage rule, such as the removal of a formulary drug found to be unsafe or the addition of a low-cost generic drug that becomes available. Congressional Democrats and a few Republicans had criticized as unfair that drug plans can change formularies at will but most beneficiaries are locked into a plan for 12 months.