Friday, May 15, 2009

Weekend Update + Spinal Tap

In my recent Drug Channels reader survey, a few people requested occasional updates on past stories. Here you go!

1. Generic Drug Scandal Hits Wholesalers and Drug Makers in Canada (4/28/09) -- Some well-known wholesalers and manufacturers are being accused of participating in a drug recycling and duplicate reimbursement scheme in Canada. It now looks like the Canadian problems are multiplying faster than hockey penalties according to More charges laid in alleged Ontario drug reselling scheme:

A wholesaler, Kohl & Frisch Ltd., and an unnamed individual are facing criminal charges of providing false or incomplete information, or obstructing an inspector, health officials said Thursday. That brings the total number of charges laid in the case to 24 from 20. Another pharmacy has been put on notice that it may be cut off from the province's public drug plan, and three other pharmacy groups have been ordered to provide more information about the money they've collected from drug companies, which could trigger full-scale audits.
2. Walgreens to Washington: Make my day (3/31/09) -- Walgreens and others opposed a Washington (state) plan that would reduce brand drug reimbursements for Medicaid scripts. The state blinked according to Washington drops bid to cut drugstore Medicaid payments:

Washington state has dropped an attempt to cut Medicaid prescription reimbursement rates to drugstores to the lowest levels nationwide, ending a legal struggle. As a result of budget legislation the state will continue to pay 86 percent of the average wholesale price on name-brand drugs for Medicaid prescriptions through at least July 1…
3. Could the FTC undo CVS Caremark? (4/8/09) -- Representatives of the independent pharmacy industry, led by the National Community Pharmacist's Association, met with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to air their grievances about CVS Caremark. NCPA put out a press release with their POV on the event (Patients, Community Pharmacists Tell Federal Trade Commission of CVS/Caremark Merger's Costly Side Effects) and the following proposed remedies:

NCPA urged the FTC to take a number of steps, including investigating allegations of anticompetitive and deceptive conduct by CVS Caremark; requiring CVS Caremark to treat all pharmacies in a nondiscriminatory fashion; and ensuring that the company creates an ironclad barrier between CVS and Caremark so that competitively sensitive Caremark information cannot be used by its retail operations.

For my take on this issue, read yesterday's post Debate Over CVS Caremark's Tactics Heats Up. This post-meeting Dow Jones story gives the following lukewarm view of the meeting from NCPA's general counsel:

"Based on today's meeting, we're hopeful and encouraged, but we'll see what happens," said the group's general counsel, Joanne Thelmo.

However, this Reuters story has a more positive spin:

Association president Holly Whitcomb Henry said on a media conference call that Leibowitz told them the issues were "of concern" and that FTC staff would look into them.

4. Spinal Tap: Back from the Dead

Last night, I went to an AMAZING concert with the boys of Spinal Tap, who were (for a time) the unofficial mascots of California's e-pedigree legislation. Two hours of Tap and Mighty Wind songs, jokes, stories, and Q&A with the audience. On a scale from 1 to 10, I rate it an ... well, you know. Catch them when the Unwigged and Unplugged tour comes to your town!

Here's a blurry photo taken with my cell phone of them playing an acoustic version of "Hell Hole":

And a brief and funny video about their comeback:

That's the news. Goodnight and have a pleasant tomorrow.

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