Pharmacy Update: June 11

Thirteen lawsuits were filed against Mylan Pharmaceuticals and Purdue Pharma for the opioid epidemic ravaging West Virginia, according to the West Virginia Record, published June 9.

The lawsuits were filed by Roane County Commission, the city of Spencer, Jackson County Commission, the city of Ripley, the town of Ravenswood, Wood County Commission, the city of Williamstown, Wirt County Commission, the town of Elizabeth, Pleasants County Commission, the city of St. Marys, Ritchie County Commission and the town of Harrisville in May in Marshall Circuit Court.

The municipalities claim the defendants were aware that opioids were addictive and debilitating when used for chronic non-cancer pain. Despite knowing this, the defendants “sought to create a false perception of the safety and efficacy of opioids” in doctors and the general public to encourage them to use opioids for longer periods of time for more problems.

West Virginia residents will be able to access life-saving medicines when their supply runs out, the prescription is expired and the doctor can’t be reached to OK it, under a new law that took effect June 6. HB 2524, which passed both legislative houses unanimously last session and was signed into law by the governor, grants pharmacists the discretion to fill those prescriptions under specified conditions. The West Virginia Pharmacists Association sought passage of the new law.

A bipartisan Senate letter to President Trump expressing disappointment that the administration failed to act on pharmacy DIR fees closed. The letter was led by pharmacy champions, Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Jon Tester (D-Mont). A similar letter is currently circulating in the House of Representatives.

The Senate HELP Committee is requested to support provisions that would created PBM reporting requirements. The Committee is expected to mark-up the final bill at the end of June.

The New York Senate completed an investigation into PBM practices and their impact on rising drug prices and declining patient access. The committee found that “the consolidation and vertical integration of PBMs has contributed to skyrocketing list prices and declining patient access” and “PBMs often employ controversial utilization and management toods to generate revenue for themselves in a way that is detrimental to health plan sponsors, patients and pharmacies.” The committee concluded that a lack of oversight, transparency and accountability enables PBMs “to engage in anticompetitive practices at the detriment of consumers and pharmacies across New York State.”

The West Virginia Board of Pharmacy appointed the following to serve a three-year term on its Continuing Education Committee: Virginia Scott, Robert Stanton, Shelley Chliesser, Brittni Drake and Richard Stevens.

Community pharmacies are well placed to screen patients for type 2 diabetes, according to research from the University of East Anglia and Boots UK. The study shows that screening through community pharmacies is no more costly or less effective than undertaken through other routes.

Cigna and Express Scripts recently announced a program aimed at capping eligible consumers’ out-of-pocket costs for insulin at $25 a month. This would represent a 40% savings from the average monthly out-of-pocket cost borne in 2018 by users of insulin plans managed by Cigna and Express Scripts, the companies said in a statement. Cigna and Express Scripts said they are partnering with insulin manufacturers to lower co-payments to $25 at the point of sale.