Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Drug Channels News Roundup: October 2012

It’s time for my Halloween roundup of spooky Drug Channels news. Here are today’s terrifying stories:
  • Dawn of the DEA: The never-ending battle against wholesalers
  • No Fangs: Pharmacy lawsuit against preferred Part D networks is dismissed
  • Stake through the Heart: People trust the Internet more than pharmacists
  • Frankenbill: New potential legislation on distribution security
Plus, a funny video trick-or-treating lesson … for pharmaceutical sales reps!

A New Painkiller Crackdown Targets Drug Distributors
Actions have consequences. This New York Times article highlights the unintended (?) consequences of the DEA’s misdirected war on manufacturers and distributors. To avoid any risk, Cardinal Health and other wholesalers are reportedly cutting off legitimate pharmacies. Some of these pharmacies are even suing wholesalers. As I see it, the real problems originate with consumers who abuse prescription medications, the physicians who operate pill mills, and the pharmacies that knowingly participate in diversion and abuse. The unasked question: How much responsibility should a wholesaler have for the behavior of its customers? At least the DEA has finally started pursuing such chain pharmacies as CVS and Walgreen. See The DEA Nabs CVS and Walgreen.

Texas District Court Dismisses Pharmacy Association’s Challenge to Medicare’s “Preferred Pharmacy” Rule
Preferred network Medicare Part D plans keep expanding, as evidenced by the many plans listed in For 2013, Preferred Pharmacy Networks Propagate in Part D. Southwest Pharmacy Solutions, Inc., a  cooperative association with more than 500 independent pharmacies, sued the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), alleging that the preferred pharmacy rule violated the Medicare Act’s “any willing pharmacy” provision. CMS filed a successful motion to dismiss, arguing that the pharmacies had to first exhaust the “administrative process.” (I’m sure that will be fun!) I presume that a similar North Carolina lawsuit will suffer the same fate. (CLARIFICATION: The Motion to Dismiss was granted in December 2011.)

New Survey Finds More U.S. Adults Trust the Internet the Most [sic] than Trust their Pharmacist to Help with Health Care Decisions
Here’s some scary news for pharmacy fans. According to a survey conducted by an organization of independent pharmacy owners (!), people don’t rely on pharmacists very much. U.S. adults were asked whom they trust “to help guide and inform healthcare decisions for themselves and their families.” Here’s what they said:
  • Doctor: 72%
  • Friends and family: 36%
  • Spouses or significant others: 36%
  • Internet: 22%
  • Pharmacist: 18%
DOH! I’m sure that these results were not expected, so kudos to RxAlly for releasing the results anyway. Judging by the press release’s title, perhaps they should invest in a better PR proofreader.

Congressional Legislation Development: Mad Libs Edition!
Last week, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee published a Congressional Discussion Draft to Improve Drug Distribution Security.  Dirk Rodgers at RxTrace published a valuable and thorough analysis of the proposal, which contains spare parts from every previous drug supply chain bill. Anyone with responsibility for supply chain security should spend time studying Dirk’s comments.

Scary Sales Rep
A funny Halloween treat!


  1. Regarding your news roundup story, "Texas District Court Dismisses Pharmacy Association's Challenge to Medicare's Preferred Pharmacy Rule," I am General Counsel for Southwest Pharmacy Solutions, Inc. d/b/a American Pharmacies, a member owned independent pharmacy buying cooperative. American Pharmacies appealed the dismissal, and the appeal is set to be heard before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on November 6, 2012. A decision is expected in the following months.   


  2. Thank you for calling attention to the results of the survey
    that RxAlly conducted with Harris Interactive. 


    A few recent studies validated the value of community
    pharmacy and our mission here at RxAlly. 
    Analysis by the New England Healthcare Institute (NEHI) shows that
    improving patient adherence to medications is a $290 billion opportunity. The
    NEHI, as well as recent publications of the U.S. Public Health Service and the
    CDC, advocate for health care reform to include expansion of pharmacists’ roles
    on health care teams to help reinforce proper use of medications and provide
    select primary and chronic disease care services in collaboration with other
    health care providers. 


    RxAlly believes that a more personalized, face-to-face
    community care model is the optimal approach for delivery care, and ultimately bending
    the cost curve.   We are not alone, as care systems across the
    nation are moving to a more localized, accountable approach to care.  Pharmacists are an integral part of that
    equation, as they are highly trained medical professionals capable of providing
    valuable primary care services and are widely available in our


    Our intent in sponsoring the survey with Harris Interactive
    was to better understand consumer perceptions of pharmacists and their role in
    health care and from there, develop a baseline from which we can measure change.  As we expected, the results certainly
    demonstrated a gap -- we have some work to do in convincing key stakeholders
    and the American consumer about the value that pharmacists can and do bring to
    health care.


    RxAlly was formed with these goals in mind.  Our performance network of more than 22,000
    pharmacies nationwide was conceived to elevate the role of the pharmacist on
    the health care team.  By providing
    consistent quality care including expanded medication management and other
    primary care services, we can support medical practices, hospitals, employers,
    the government and other major health care providers in improving health care
    outcomes and reducing the cost burden for us all.  We will also continue advocating for the
    legislative and reimbursement changes that will help us to do our job
    better.  We hope that you and all your
    readers will join us in this mission!  

  3. Thanks for the clarification, Amanda.