US Pharm. 32(11):6.

"Behind-the-Counter" Drug Category Considered by FDA
Rockville, MD -- The FDA is considering an official new category of prescription drugs that could be dispensed without a prescription after consulting with a pharmacist. While a "behind-the-counter" category may seem new, in actuality there are already several products being sold only by pharmacists and limited to customers who show photo identification. These include the emergency contraceptive Plan B and cold products that contain pseudoephedrine. The FDA said "because pharmacists have the training and knowledge to provide certain interventions, they may be able to ensure that patients meet the conditions for use and educate patients on appropriate use of the [behind-the-counter] drug product."

Medicare Part D Reimbursement Fix a Bit Closer to Reality
Washington, DC -- Bipartisan support for prompt reimbursement of Medicare Part D prescription drug claims to community pharmacies continues to gain support in the House of Representatives. The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) reports that H.R. 1474, The Fair and Speedy Treatment (FAST) of Medicare Prescription Drug Claims Act of 2007, has signed its 220th cosponsor. "Slow government reimbursements have left some patients without access to their prescription medications and their community pharmacists, which is a trend that can be halted by taking corrective action," said Bruce Roberts, NCPA's executive vice president/CEO.

NCPA Applauds Wisconsin Budget Provision
Alexandria, VA -- The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) reports that provisions were provided in the passage of the Wisconsin state budget that address the negative ramifications of federally imposed cuts to Medicaid, specifically the use of the Average Manufacturers Price (AMP), in calculating generic prescription drug reimbursements. In a published statement, the NCPA said it applauds the Wisconsin legislature "for including provisions in their state budget that will ensure Medicaid patients continue receiving their generic prescription drugs."

Illinois Pharmacists Could Settle Birth Control Lawsuit
Springfield, Ill -- An Illinois legislative panel is reviewing a settlement in reaction to a lawsuit brought by several pharmacists over a ruling that mandates pharmacists fill all prescriptions despite personal moral views about the drugs they are dispensing. The drug currently in question is the emergency contraceptive Plan B. Under the agreement, Illinois pharmacists who object to dispensing drugs based on moral views would be allowed to let a pharmacist at another location instruct a pharmacist at the first location how to fill the prescription. The compromise would therefore allow a woman to get an emergency contraceptive filled while not violating any pharmacist's moral convictions.

Independents Continue to Rank High in Patient Care
Alexandria, VA -- According to the latest data from the annual NCPA-Pfizer Digest, despite financially hard times, the numbers of niche services offered by independent community pharmacists increased in 2006. The services include nutrition counseling, delivery services, compounding, scheduling patient appointments, and pain management. The survey also uncovered that staffing in independent pharmacies continued to increase, resulting in a rise in the average number of full-time pharmacists, part-time pharmacists, and pharmacy technicians. The data also showed that wages for staff pharmacists and pharmacy technicians rose between 2005 and 2006. Over half the pharmacists said they are able to receive electronic prescriptions.

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