Latebreakers

October 10, 2005

CMS has approved Community Care Rx (CCRx) as one of 10 national Medicare Part D prescription drug plan sponsors. NCPA, MemberHealth Inc., and Computer Sciences Corp. created CCRx as a Medicare-approved discount card program that was expanded to become a full Rx plan. CCRx will offer three plans with premiums ranging from $26.25 to $45.23. Services offered include 90-day scripts at retail and pharmacist-provided medication therapy management services for qualified beneficiaries.

Community Care Rx named national Medicare Rx provider

FDA warns of short supply of immune globulin

FDA approves Zyflo for asthma

Lexington, Mass.-based Critical Therapeutics announced that the FDA has approved its application to manufacture and market Zyflo (zileuton tablets). The drug is indicated for the prevention and chronic treatment of asthma in patients 12 years of age and older. Zyflo is expected to be available to patients before the end of this month. The drug was originally approved for this indication in 1996 when it was owned by Abbott Laboratories. Zyflo has been commercially unavailable since early 2004 when Abbott stopped production and transferred the rights to Critical Therapeutics.

New treatment approved for menopause

The FDA has approved Angeliq (drospirenone and estradiol, Berlex) for the treatment of moderate to severe vasomotor symptoms associated with menopause. Angeliq will be available in the U.S. by prescription in mid-2006, in a preparation containing 0.5 mg drospirenone and 1 mg estradiol. According to the manufacturer, Angeliq will be the only hormone therapy to contain the unique progestin drospirenone. Reinhard Franzen, president/ CEO of Berlex, said that Angeliq provides menopausal women and healthcare professionals with a new treatment option containing the progestin drospirenone, which is also found in Berlex's oral contraceptive Yasmin (ethinyl estradiol and drospirenone).

PBM catches drug abusers

A study of 1,000 prescriptions processed through Medco during the first quarter of 2004 found that some patients are engaged in doctor shopping and obtaining controlled substances from multiple pharmacies. High drug utilizers, defined as those who incur drug costs exceeding $400, nearly seven times the monthly drug costs of most patients, on average got their Rxs from six doctors and had them filled at five pharmacies. Drugs obtained by these patients often included opioids, antianxiety medications, muscle relaxants, and hypnotic agents. The PBM added that it has systems in place to catch such drug-abusing behavior.

Knowing R.Ph. improves health

Consumers who know their pharmacist's name are more likely to know their medications, according to a survey of 1,565 adults commissioned by APhA. The survey, conducted by WilsonRx, also found that consumers who know their pharmacist's name are more likely to tell their R.Ph. what Rx medications they are taking, read product labels all the time, know the main ingredients in their Rx drugs, and use their R.Ph. as a source of information.

OIG: Inhalation drug suppliers provide few services

To what extent do Medicare beneficiaries receive refill-reminder and other services from their inhalation drug suppliers? OIG just came out with a study that covered a random sample of 480 Medicare patients and 203 suppliers in 2003. The study found that 60% of patients were contacted for a refill at least once, most often by phone. Other services, such as medication compliance reviews, were much less common. Also, patients were three times more likely to receive a service beyond a refill contact if their supplier also provided their respiratory equipment. However, service levels declined after the first month suppliers billed for drugs. OIG implied that current service levels do not warrant the existing interim dispensing fee of $57 for a 30-day drug supply. These findings will be used by CMS to determine a new dispensing fee for 2006.