News of Interest to Pharmacists

West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore-Capito (R) has requested HHS Secretary Alex Azar to address retroactive pharmacy direct and indirect remuneration fees in Medicare Part D as part of any attempts to lower drug prices.  WVPA Executive Director Richard Stevens encouraged Senator Capito to take the action.

Amazon is purchasing PillPack which delivers medications in pre-sorted dose packaging, coordinates refills and renewals, and makes sure shipments are sent on time, according to the company’s news release.   PillPack is already licensed to sell mail order prescriptions in 49 states, and is an in-network pharmacy with all the major PBMs.

The FDA is updating its efforts to reduce critical drug shortages, and acknowledges the shortage impact on patient care.  For IV fluid shortages, the FDA noted that Baxter had increased production and the agency had expedited application reviews for several companies to add capacity or additional supply.   The FDA also outlined its response to the shortage of injectable opioid analgesics, explaining the cause of the delay and it work with Pfizer to correct their manufacturing issues.  The FDA is also working with Mylan to resolve the shortage of EpiPens.

Four people and the clinic where whey allegedly operated a pill mill, as well as two West Virginia pharmacies, has been sued by a women who says doctors at the clinic fatally over-prescribed opioid medication for her son.   The mother claims no one at either of the two pharmacies named in the suit reported the “suspicious prescription activity” to the WV Board of Pharmacy, according to the news report.

High levels of demand for Shringrix (herpes zoster vaccine) have led GlaxSmithKline (GSK) to implement order limits, and providers have experienced shipping delays, according to the CDC.   It is anticipate these order limits and shipping delays will continue throughout 2018, the CDC reported.

Health care officials say telemedicine services at Charleston Area Medical Center are increasing and providing people the opportunity to receive medical attention without having to leave their hometown.   Health care facilities use communication technology to connect with patients in other communities as part of the telemedicine efforts.  Federal grants have afforded CAMC to utilize the technology.

Express Scripts Holding Co, CVS Health Corp and other PBMs urged a Minnesota federal judge to toss a proposed class action alleging that they breached their Employee Retirement Income Security Act duties and caused large increases to EpiPen’s list price, arguing that the companies weren’t fiduciaries subject to the law.

CMS administrator Seema Verma sent a letter to all Part D plan sponsors warning them that CMS finds any form of “gag clauses” in pharmacy contracts to be unacceptable and contrary to its efforts to promote drug price transparency and lower drug prices.