News & Trends
IOM: Boost Drug Regulation Abroad
More than 80% of active pharmaceutical ingredients and 40% of finished drugs used in the United States are imported, but many of the countries where they are manufactured lack adequate means of ensuring drug safety. The discovery of imported counterfeit Avastin in February and imported contaminated heparin in 2008 underscores this issue. A recent report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) details a number of steps that the FDA and other organizations can take to help improve drug safety systems in developing nations.
Among the IOM’s recommendations: The FDA should team up with its counterparts in other developed nations to work out a means to recognize one another’s inspections of manufacturing plants in developing nations, which would use available resources more efficiently. Along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the FDA should provide technical expertise and offer training to improve developing nations’ surveillance systems.
The agency should also provide incentives for the development of inexpensive technologies to prevent and detect fraud and track products along the supply chain. Finally, the FDA should consider expanding its pilot Secure Supply Chain program, which rewards drug firms that can track their products from manufacture to market with expedited entry into the US market, to more medical companies.
Glaucoma Condition Center Debuts
This month, we are introducing a new condition center on www.PharmacyTimes.com covering glaucoma. Glaucoma, which affects more than 2 million Americans and nearly 2% of Americans older than 40 years of age, usually involves increased pressure in the eye, leading to optic nerve damage and, potentially, blindness.
The most common type, openangle glaucoma, generally has no symptoms before vision loss begins to occur. Its cause is unknown, although it tends to run in families and is particularly common among African Americans. The condition is generally treated with prescription eye drops as or, in some cases, pills. Loss of vision due to glaucoma is currently irreversible, so pharmacists should emphasize that it is essential that patients follow their treatment regimen as precisely as possible.
Some of the topics that will be covered in the glaucoma condition center include:
- Possible neurologic roots of glaucoma
- National screening urged to detect glaucoma in African Americans
- Role of outside temperature, sun exposure, and gender in triggering glaucoma
Pharmacy Times is proud to announce the addition of another voice to our growing blogger community: Jay Sochoka, BSPharm, RPh, CIP, whose blog is titled “Piller of the Community.” Sochoka will focus on the pharmacist’s role in preventive medicine as well as other issues in pharmacy including customer service and health care ethics. Check out his blog at www.pharmacytimes.com/blogs/piller-of-the-community.
Readers React: Express Scripts-Medco Merger Draws Strong Reactions
A recent article on www.PharmacyTimes.com about the completion of the merger of Express Scripts and Medco after it was cleared by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) inspired almost unanimously negative reactions on our website and Facebook page. The merger of 2 of the country’s 3 largest pharmacy benefit managers has been extremely controversial.
Opponents have argued that the merged company would be able to use its market power toward a number of anticompetitive ends including forcing lower reimbursement rates on community pharmacies and limiting consumer choice, but a majority of the FTC approved the merger with no conditions. Legal action to block the merger continues.
Our readers said:
These companies are only concerned with keeping down costs when it makes them money. They are for-profit entities which only serve one purpose (to make a profit).
It is shocking to me that the FTC has no sense of history at all. I remember thinking they couldn’t be so foolish as to approve the Merck-Medco merger twenty years ago. Look how prescription prices have skyrocketed since then.
I still feel we, as pharmacy owners, have to share the blame. As long as we continue to accept a reimbursement formula based on AWP less a percentage, and not a real value dispensing fee, we will continue down this path.
Check out the article at http://www.pharmacytimes.com/news/FTC-Approves-Express-Scripts-Medco-Merger