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Rx Drugs

November 10, 2003 | Daily News

CMS Administrator Tom Scully is encouraging state Medicaid directors to take a tough stance to counter the effects of direct-to-consumer advertising and promote generics as a way to bring down Medicaid drug spending.

Citing Nexium and its cheaper equivalents as examples, the CMS chief told a gathering of state Medicaid directors Oct. 28 that it "drives me crazy" that Medicaid spends $250 million on the brand drug when other alternatives are "virtually the same" thing.

November 10, 2003 | Daily News

Brand-name drug firm Allergan, a conservative think-tank, and the generic drug industry are battling over whether the Supreme Court should review a lower court ruling that brand-name drug firms must wait to sue if a company files a generic drug application and the only patents blocking the application are for an unapproved use. Allergan argues that the decision, if not overturned, will chill drug innovation. But the generic drug industry disagrees, saying a reversal would allow brand-name drug firms to unjustly delay competition.

November 07, 2003 | Daily News

Medicare conferees are leaning towards adoption of the House Medicare bill's formula for subsidizing employers who maintain retiree drug coverage, but Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) continues to push for additional ways to minimize the number of companies that drop retiree drug coverage once a new Medicare benefit comes on line, according to industry and congressional sources.

However, Baucus indicated that he would have a difficult time convincing fellow conferees to adopt a union-backed proposal to provide $20-$25 billion in tax credits for employers who maintain drug coverage.

November 07, 2003 | Daily News

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas (R-CA) this week opened the door to new limits on competition between Medicare fee-for-service (FFS) and private plans, floating the possibility of requiring a higher degree of market penetration by private plans before competition would begin and exempting low-income and older seniors from possible premium hikes. In addition, Thomas signaled a willingness to cap the amount FFS premiums could rise in localities where private plans' costs are lower.

November 07, 2003 | Daily News

Conferees have tentatively agreed to scrap the average wholesale price (AWP) reimbursement formula for outpatient drugs, but are looking at further increasing practice expense reimbursements to oncologists and other physicians who will lose out on the AWP cuts.

November 07, 2003 | Daily News

CanaRx, the company that Springfield, MA, is using to reimport drugs, is arguing that FDA's reimportation policy violates international trade agreements, fails to protect the public, and flouts Congressional findings that led to the original reimportation law in 2000 -- which was never enacted because FDA determined it impossible to ensure that the law would result in no loss of protection.

November 07, 2003 | Daily News

With Medicare negotiations in the final throes, Senate Democrats are now reframing the drug debate as a battle to save Medicare, a message being peddled to justify their possible blockage of a prescription drug bill should it include measures they strongly oppose.

November 07, 2003 | Daily News

As FDA works to retain its statutory authority over drug reimportation, companies helping Americans buy drugs from Canada are arguing that the agency is not concerned about the safety of drugs, despite the agency's claims to the contrary.

November 06, 2003 | Daily News

Senate Medicare conferees have been meeting with members of the House Blue Dog Coalition to find a way to pass a Medicare bill in the House that would also satisfy Senate Democrats.

Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Max Baucus (R-MT) have met with the fiscally conservative Democrats at least three times in the past few weeks in an effort to neutralize the controversial demands of House GOP conservatives, various congressional sources have told Inside CMS.

November 06, 2003 | Daily News

A federal judge is shutting down all Rx Depot and Rx of Canada operations, pending the outcome of the actual trial. The ruling indicates that the judge believes FDA is likely to win its lawsuit against the companies.

FDA has been holding off suing Springfield, MA, for its reimportation plan, but sources have said that FDA is using the Rx Depot suit to better define its authority before going after any state or local governments planning to reimport.

November 05, 2003 | Daily News

Medicare conferees remain deadlocked on key issues, with each political party this week taking the opportunity to blame the other for the continued delays. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) now hopes to get a Medicare conference agreement, which he calls a "must-do bill," to the floor before the Senate adjourns the Friday before Thanksgiving (Nov. 21).

November 05, 2003 | Daily News

As the political rhetoric over the Medicare conference report ramps up, Medicare conferees are now hoping to resolve remaining issues -- including those that have deadlocked talks so far -- early next week in the hope of having a final package late Tuesday that is ready for a vote, according to Senate Finance Committee chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA).

November 05, 2003 | Daily News

As Medicare conferees struggle to breach their prescription drug bill differences, Senate Democrats are taking the offensive to reinforce their opposition to GOP-led conference proposals they say they will fight to stop. The stance casts increasing doubt over the likelihood of Congress passing a Medicare prescription drug bill this year, and increases pressure on the White House to break the deadlock.

November 04, 2003 | Daily News

Medicare conferees are considering capping spending on prescription drugs and outpatient services at 45 percent of Medicare spending unless 60 senators vote to lift a proposed cap on general revenue spending for the program.

November 03, 2003 | Daily News

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) charges that CMS' proposal to cut physicians' Medicare drug reimbursements is premature and potentially illegal, jumping the gun on a congressional moratorium on changes to the average wholesale price (AWP) system and proposing new payment systems that are unreasonable and unjustified.

October 31, 2003 | Daily News

House lawmakers who favor drug reimportation have asked Attorney General John Ashcroft to investigate if drug companies are violating anti-trust laws by blocking sales of prescription drugs to Canadian pharmacies. The letter to Ashcroft adds to the recent clamor over moves by some high-profile drug companies to restrict drug sales to Canada in a bid to cut-off the potential for reimportation. Some state attorneys general already have investigations underway.

October 30, 2003 | Daily News

Medicare conferees have reached tentative agreement on a host of provider payment issues, agreeing to reimbursement formulas covering hospitals and home health agencies and reform of the payment system for physician-administered drugs, according to a variety of congressional and industry sources, including a bulletin by the American Hospital Association (AHA).

October 29, 2003 | Daily News

Lawmakers are likely to miss another Medicare conference deadline today (Oct. 29), but hoped last night to resolve one of four major outstanding issues in the prescription drug bill.

Premium support, reimportation and cost containment are still outstanding issues yet to be reconciled, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), author of the Senate bill, told reporters last night. Grassley said conferees were hoping to reach agreement later that evening on a fourth issue, which is thought to be changes to the way Medicare pays for outpatient drugs.

October 27, 2003 | Daily News

Nine Republican congressmen from New York state who voted for the House Medicare bill are uniting to pressure House leadership to adopt the Senate bill's subsidies for New York's prescription drug assistance program, provide more funding for the state's teaching hospitals and drop the House bill's cut to projected inpatient hospital payments.

October 27, 2003 | Daily News

A CMS analysis of the House Medicare bill's plan to subject beneficiary premiums to competition with private plans shows that the constituents of some of the Medicare conferees could face sharp rises in their monthly Medicare fee-for-service premiums by 2013.

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