US Pharm. 2007;32(9):6.

NCPA: CMS Downplaying Effect of New Medicaid Reimbursement Rule
Alexandria, Va. -- Continuing its assault on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) over its final rule for Medicaid generic drug pharmacy reimbursement, the National Community Pharmacists Association's Executive Vice President and CEO Bruce Roberts said that CMS "desperately clings to the discredited notion that its policy, designed to cut over $8 billion from Medicaid by targeting community pharmacies, will have a minimal impact." Roberts said there is a "mountain of evidence" demonstrating that the new Medicaid reimbursement rule will have "serious ramifications for community pharmacies and their patients." In an article published in the Kansas City Star, CMS spokeswoman Mary Kahn said that CMS does not agree "with some advocates who claim that the new rule will put pharmacies out of business." She said that the new rule was necessary because states "were greatly overpaying for many drugs, especially generic drugs."

Publix Dispenses Free Antibiotics
Lakeland, Fla . -- Publix Super Markets is offering free prescriptions for seven of the chain's most popular generic antibiotics in all of its 684 pharmacies. The drugs included are amoxicillin, cephalexin, sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim, ciprofloxacin, penicillin VK, ampicillin, and erythromycin. According to the company, these antibiotics account for almost 50% of the generic, pediatric prescriptions filled at the chain. There is no limit to the number of prescriptions that may be filled for free, and these free antibiotics are being offered to patients regardless of their prescription insurance provider.

FDA Says Thiazolidinedione Drugs Need Upgraded Warnings
Rockville, Md. -- Manufacturers of the entire thiazolidinedione class of antidiabetic drugs--Avandia (rosiglitazone), Actos (pioglitazone), Avandaryl (rosiglitazone and glimepiride), Avandamet (rosiglitazone and metformin), and Duetact (pioglitazone and glimepiride)--will be updating the label on their products based on postmarketing adverse event reports that patients who take them may be at a greater risk of heart failure. "The new boxed warning addresses FDA's concerns that despite the warnings and information already listed in the drug labels, these drugs are still being prescribed to patients without careful monitoring for signs of heart failure," said Steven Galson, MD, MPH, director of FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

Report Says FDA Should Have Authority Over Tobacco Products
New York -- A new report from the President's Cancer Panel reinforces the urgent need for Congress to pass legislation giving the FDA authority to regulate tobacco in order to reduce its deadly toll. Each year, more than 438,000 Americans die from tobacco-related diseases, including lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The panel also made it clear that individual states have a responsibility in the control of tobacco products, including funding tobacco control programs, passing comprehensive smoke-free workplace legislation, and increasing tobacco taxes.

Health Care Organizations Launch Disaster Response Program
Alexandria, Va. -- The National Association of Chain Drug Stores has joined forces with several health care organizations in the creation of Rx Response, a program designed to preserve and protect public health in the event of a severe emergency, including major domestic public health emergencies of national significance, such as disaster relief in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

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