News Briefs

06/09/2022

Pharmacy groups dismiss lawsuit after win on DIR

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Colored pills on top of money

The National Community Pharmacists Association and the American Pharmacists Association  announced today that they have voluntarily dismissed a lawsuit dating back to the previous administration. The two groups were the lead plaintiffs in the federal case against the secretary of Health and Human Services.

“We’ve been fighting in Congress for years to end retroactive pharmacy DIR fees and lower prescription costs for seniors and protect small business pharmacies. We’ve been working with HHS and CMS for years on a regulatory solution, and more than a year ago we strategically filed a lawsuit in case the other two roads were blocked,” said NCPA CEO Douglas Hoey. “We are cautiously optimistic that the new Part D rule satisfies the goals we had for the lawsuit.”

We’ll be watching closely to see how the rule is implemented and whether PBMs comply or try to game the system. If they don’t, we reserve the right to return to court,” he said.

“Shutting down our legal challenge doesn’t end our fight for justice for pharmacies from unfair PBM practices,” said APhA interim executive vice president and CEO Ilisa Bernstein. “We know the final rule benefits patients and increases transparency, but time will tell if it also benefits our nation’s pharmacists.”

NCPA filed the lawsuit in the closing days of the Trump administration after multiple administrations had failed to address retroactive pharmacy DIR fees. The group was joined shortly thereafter by APhA and several other plaintiffs.

Pharmacy DIR, which stands for Direct and Indirect Remunerations, is a catchall term used to describe various price concessions required from pharmacies by PBMs in order to participate in the Medicare Part D program. Those concessions have grown by more than 107,000% since 2010, according to CMS, and wind up inflating seniors’ share of their prescription drug costs. They also are assessed retroactively, often months after the transaction, making it impossible for pharmacies to keep up with and predict the cost of these transactions. The litigation took aim at the retroactive nature of these fees, which NCPA and APhA hope will end due to the recent changes in CMS policy.

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06/09/2022

Mamitas drops summer-inspired tequila hard seltzers

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mamitas hard seltzer

Mamitas Hard Seltzer is getting ready for summer by launching two new flavors of its beverages, which are made with tequila.

A play on popular cocktails, the brand presents Spicy Marg and Tequila Sunrise drinks, which join the previously launched Paloma, lime, mango and pineapple varieties.

The Spicy Marg has a margarita body with a light cayenne kick and Tequila Sunrise tastes like a lighter-flavored version of the classic cocktail.

Made with 100% real tequila, each naturally gluten-free drink contains less than 1.5 g of sugar, 5% ABV and 95 calories, the company said.

Mamitas Hard Seltzer is available in an eight-count variety pack that retails from $17.99 to $21.99, a four-count pack from $9.99 to $12.99 and single 12-oz. cans that retail from $5 to $7. The classic flavors can be found on Drizly, as well as at Target, Walmart, Kroger and Publix among other retailers.

06/08/2022

Upsher-Smith wins HDA's DIANA award

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Gold star trophy.

Upsher-Smith has a reason to celebrate.

The company has been honored with a Distribution Industry Award for Notable Achievement in Healthcare for Best Overall Branded Pharmaceutical Product Manufacturer with less than $300 million in sales by the Healthcare Distribution Alliance, or HDA.

"Upsher-Smith is committed to upholding our reputation as a trusted healthcare partner. Delivering peace of mind for our customers by offering the best in supply and pharmaceutical manufacturing excellence is at the forefront of all that we do," said Rich Fisher, president and COO of Upsher-Smith. "This marks the 13th DIANA award for Upsher-Smith, and we are especially proud of the ongoing confidence that distributors have in our product quality and reliable supply. This customer confidence fuels our team to bring even more products to our trading partners in the years ahead."

Upsher-Smith will soon expand upon its long-standing, award-winning relationships with distributors with the opening of its new, 270,000-sq-ft., state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Maple Grove, Minn. The new site will have up-to-the-minute serialization and packaging capabilities and has capacity and capabilities that could support contract manufacturing for third parties.

The HDA presented the awards to outstanding pharmaceutical and consumer product manufacturers at its 2022 Business and Leadership Conference in Orlando on June 6, 2022.

Since 1959, the DIANA Awards have been presented to pharmaceutical and consumer product manufacturers that set the standard for excellence in developing innovative new product introductions and promotions, fostering exceptional trading partner relationships, advancing trade relations and creating business practices that benefit the entire healthcare supply chain.

DIANA finalists and winners for Best Overall Company are chosen by HDA distributor members who judge companies based on several criteria including knowledgeable salespeople, high-level customer service, demonstrated flexibility and creativity in marketing and incorporation of new technologies to ensure product safety and security.

Upsher-Smith is included among a distinguished group of present and past recipients who serve as models for leadership and innovation in the healthcare marketplace.

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06/07/2022

NCPA applauds FTC probe of PBMs

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The National Community Pharmacists Association is hailing a move by the Federal Trade Commission to proceed with a 6(b) study of pharmacy benefit managers and anti-competitive business practices.

After the commission in February split 2-2 on a proposal to launch a formal study into PBMs, FTC chair Lina Khan pledged to call for another vote on the issue.

“PBMs behave like monopolies. Their secretive, anticompetitive practices increase prescription drug prices, limit consumer choice and stymie competition. They’ve escaped serious scrutiny for far too long, but this study will bring their dirty laundry out into the open,” said NCPA CEO Doug Hoey.

The vote comes after Alvaro Bedoya, who was sworn in as commissioner in May, joined Khan and all commissioners in voting to support the investigation. This will make the six largest PBMs (CVS Caremark; Express Scripts; OptumRx; Humana; Prime Therapeutics; and MedImpact Healthcare Systems) hand over information on PBM business practices, including fees and clawbacks charged to unaffiliated pharmacies, patient-steering, audits of independent pharmacies, reimbursement and more, the organization said. 

“NCPA has repeatedly called on the FTC to scrutinize PBM practices and thousands of community pharmacy owners and their allies have shared with the FTC their examples of the impact health insurer-owned PBMs have on consumer costs and access to prescription drugs contributing to the FTC decision to do the 6(b) study. These examples have made a difference. We’re grateful to chair Khan and the commissioners for considering these concerns and approving this study, which we hope will result in meaningful reforms to merger and acquisition reviews and, of course, to the insurer-PBMs themselves.,” said Hoey.  

06/06/2022

APhA building annex named after John Gans

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On June 5, 2022, the American Pharmacists Association formally dedicated its new building as the John A. Gans Annex.

Current APhA president Theresa Tolle led a dedication ceremony attended by the APhA board of trustees, guests and family members.

The APhA building is both special and unique in that it is the only privately owned property on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The original headquarters were designed by architect John Russell Pope, with the initial groundbreaking ceremony in 1932. Construction was completed in 1933 and the building’s initial dedication took place in 1934 on the front lawn of the building with a prepared message from President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Plans to expand the headquarters were announced in 2001 and ground was broken for the John A. Gans Annex in 2006. In 2009, the new APhA headquarters were dedicated.

[Read more: APhA changes executive leadership]

John A. Gans was the 11th CEO of APhA and was the catalyst for expanding the home of America’s pharmacists in the early 2000s. Gans, with the support of APhA staff and board members, had the foresight to purchase additional land directly behind the original APhA headquarters and to expand the building. The expansion of APhA headquarters has allowed APhA to lease office space to the federal government and to optimize this important asset in support of the association’s mission.

Gans represents one of the most forward-thinking pharmacists of this era and has been a part of numerous teams and coalitions continuing to push the profession of pharmacy into the future. He graduated from the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science, where he received a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy in 1966 followed by a doctorate in pharmacy in 1969. During his tenure with APhA, he was at the forefront of the movement to expand pharmacists’ roles from being dispensers of medications to being medication experts. He also helped pave the path requiring that all pharmacists gain a PharmD to become licensed to practice. During Gans’ tenure, APhA provided the leadership in collaboration with state affiliates for pharmacists to become immunizers. During the pandemic, this served our country well as pharmacists vaccinated two out of every three Americans. This is only a snapshot of Gans’ many great contributions to the profession throughout his career.

[Read more: APhA, NASPA release 2022 National State-based Pharmacy Workplace Survey]

His passion and innovative thinking in pharmacy laid the groundwork for what the practice of pharmacy is today and the reason that it continues to grow as a profession. APhA is honored to announce the dedication of the annex to Dr. Gans as a small token of his innumerable contributions to pharmacy, APhA said.

06/06/2022

Surescripts taps Frank Harvey as CEO

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Surescripts, a leading health information network, is welcoming a new executive leader.

Frank Harvey is joining the company as CEO, effective June 27. Harvey succeeds Tom Skelton, who previously announced his decision to retire.

Harvey is a pharmacist, an experienced chief executive and investor who has had numerous senior leadership roles during his more than 35-year career in the healthcare technology, pharmacy and pharmaceutical sectors, the company said.

Harvey joins Surescripts from ATLS Investment, where he led private equity investing in healthcare technology companies. Previously, he served as CEO of Mirixa and Liberty Medical Supply.

“It’s been a pleasure to work closely with Tom over the past eight years, and we appreciate the many successes that Surescripts achieved under his leadership,” said Steven Miller, co-chair of Surescripts’ board of directors. “We are now poised for continued growth and new opportunities with Frank’s leadership at this incredible time in health care.”

“Frank is a results-oriented leader with strong operational skills, and extensive experience growing healthcare businesses,” said Douglas Hoey, co-chair of Surescripts’ board of directors. “Frank combines his unique perspective and depth of experience with a passion for improving the lives of patients and evolving the healthcare system.”

“I’m honored to join Surescripts at such a critical time, and I look forward to working with the team to realize the enormous potential we have to change health care,” Harvey said. “I’m committed to what we do as a company and the new products and services we will bring to market that I believe will have a significant impact on the healthcare system as a whole.”