Independent Pharmacy Newsroom

Independent Pharmacy Newsroom is AAP's information resource for independent and community pharmacies. We highlight news about new medications, pharmacy legal issues and tips to grow your independent pharmacy business.

Elevating Your Pharmacy — Treating Your Business as Your Brand

In today’s fiercely competitive market, independent pharmacies face an ongoing battle to stand out and thrive amidst larger chain competitors. Yet, within every community, these pharmacies possess a unique asset that sets them apart—their brand. Far more than just a logo or a name, your pharmacy brand embodies the essence of your business, reflecting your values, services, and commitment to patient care. As an independent pharmacy owner, recognizing and harnessing the power of your brand can be the key to success in an increasingly crowded marketplace.

At the heart of building a strong brand lies the understanding that your pharmacy is more than just a place where medications are dispensed—it’s a trusted healthcare destination where patients feel valued, understood, and cared for. By adopting key marketing tactics employed by popular consumer brands, independent pharmacy owners can amplify their brand recognition, foster loyalty, and create lasting connections with their communities.

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AAP Preferred Partner – InfiniTrak Informational Webinar

In this pre-recorded webinar, please join Andrew Knight – Marketing and Sales coordinator at InfiniTrak. Andrew has a decade of experience in customer service. Leaning on his experience, Andrew helped reinvigorate the InfiniTrak implementation process and has been positively guiding the customer experience at InfiniTrak for over a year.

Welcome to the Informational webinar at InfiniTrak, where they lead the way in DSCSA compliance with their innovative, easy-to-use SaaS solutions. InfiniTrak platform offers tailored features that streamline the compliance process across all levels of the pharmaceutical supply chain, enhancing safety and efficiency. Discover how InfiniTrak can streamline or develop your compliance practices, ensuring you stay ahead with real-time data analytics and comprehensive security measures. Join them to learn more and take your compliance strategy to the next level.

InfiniTrak is a leading provider of DSCSA compliance SaaS solutions, designed to optimize the pharmaceutical supply chain through advanced tracking and tracing technology. Their platform ensures seamless compliance, enhanced security, and operational efficiency for stakeholders at all levels. For more information contact Mark Tate at mark@infinitrak.us or call 540-323-3604.

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Telepharmacy Services Can Help Pharmacists Streamline Workflows, Improve Patient Outcomes

Pacience Edwards, PharmD, manager of compliance at Outcomes, discussed how technological solutions can aid pharmacies during a session at the Outcomes 2024 SYNC National Conference in Orlando, Florida.

The COVID-19 pandemic changed the health care landscape both directly and indirectly in many ways. Al- though the public health crisis led to a significant amount of burnout among health care workers and put more pressure on an already overburdened system, the increased utilization of telehealth services was seen by many as a positive outcome.

Due to a lack of access brought on by COVID-19, telehealth services in the US increased by 154% during the early phases of the pandemic and then eventually stabilized at levels 38 times higher compared to those in 2019.1 This has led to many benefits for both patients and providers, such as improving access to care and reducing resources used in health care facilities.

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ComboMed™ Webinar by GeriMed

In this pre-recorded webinar, please join Jessica Swicegood and Cole Page from GeriMed to learn more about their program ComboMed™.

ComboMed™ has garnered prominence from independents nationwide for the enhanced revenue ($3-$4 more per script, zero DIR fees) it brings to retail independents servicing LTC. From the traditional SNF setting, to ALF, Group Home, Psychiatric, Correctional, ICF-IDD, Hospice, and the fastest-growing segment in LTC—Medical at Home, odds are you’re likely servicing LTC already and don’t know it. Or if you do know it, you’re not receiving the benefits of this program on your Med D LTC claims.

Click here to watch.

Can You Hear Me Now? OTC Hearing Aids

In this pre-recorded webinar, please join Peter Kreckel R.Ph. Professor Pete’s family has suffered from hearing loss for many generations. This presentation covers earwax accumulation, tinnitus, voiced and unvoiced letters, the McGurk effect, and the six types of hearing aids that are FDA approved. Professor Pete also covers the screening questions necessary to help patients see if they are candidates to purchase hearing aids without consulting an audiologist.

PharmCon freeCE is a leading provider of professional continuing education, and PTCB recognized training resources for Pharmacy Technicians and specialty certificates for pharmacists. The company is a long-time leader in the professional education space, with more live CE offerings than any other provider in the industry in addition to a robust home study library. The team prides itself in the practical nature of programming, designed to be immediately used in contemporary pharmacy practice. Learn more at freeCE.com

View Webinar Now >>

Top 7 Reasons to Attend In-Person Professional Events

Still deciding whether to attend the AAP Annual Conference in April? In-person events offer several valuable advantages that contribute to a unique and enriching experience for AAP Members. Here are the top 7 reasons to attend in-person professional events: 

1. Networking Opportunities: 

   – Face-to-face interactions provide valuable networking opportunities. You can meet and connect with other independent pharmacists, potential business partners and industry experts. 

2. Engagement and Interaction: 

   – In-person events foster a high level of engagement. You can actively participate in discussions, Q&A sessions and hands-on activities. 

   – Your ability to ask questions directly and receive immediate responses enhances the learning experience. 

3. Immersion and Experience: 

   – Physical events often create a more immersive and memorable experience. Live demonstrations, product showcases and interactive exhibits provide a hands-on experience. 

4. Building Trust and Relationships: 

   – Meeting people in person helps build trust and strengthens relationships. Face-to-face interactions allow for better communication and understanding. 

   – Personal connections formed at in-person events often translate into long-lasting professional relationships. 

5. Serendipitous Opportunities: 

   – In-person events provide opportunities for serendipitous encounters and discoveries that may not occur in a virtual setting. Chance meetings and impromptu conversations can lead to new ideas and collaborations. 

6. Professional Development: 

   – You can gain insight from keynote speakers, panel discussions and workshops in a more immersive manner. Direct interaction with experts enhances the learning experience. 

7. Motivation and Inspiration: 

   – Being part of a live audience can be motivating and inspiring. The energy and enthusiasm generated at in-person events can have a positive impact on you. 

The unique value offered by in-person events like the AAP Annual Conference, particularly in terms of human connection and experiential learning, continues to make them a valuable and preferred option for many independent pharmacists. Join us in San Diego, April 4-6

The 5 Most Common Medical Billing Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)

Medical billing is… complicated. Making even the slightest mistake on a claim can lead to a delayed payment or, worse, an outright rejection. That’s why EnlivenHealth approached their medical billing team with the question “What are the most common medical billing errors, and how can we help pharmacists avoid them?” The answers are in this free webinar.

Join EnlivenHealth’s medical billing experts for a one-hour journey through the five most common medical billing mistakes that pharmacists make — and learn how to avoid making them!

View Webinar Now >>

Pharmacy News: Top News Stories of January 2024

Top Pharmacy News Story #1: Medicare kicks off first price review

The federal government is set to begin price negotiations on the ten costliest prescription drugs covered by Medicare this week. The negotiations, as mandated by the Inflation Reduction Act, are scheduled to run through Aug. 1 before final prices are announced on Sept. 1. It’s uncharted territory for Medicare, which has never before been able to directly haggle with drugmakers over prices.

The ten drugs under negotiation are Eliquis, Jardiance, Xarelto, Januvia, Enbrel, Imbruvica, Farxiga, Entresto, Stelara, Fiasp and Novolog. Together, these ten drugs accounted for $50.5 billion, or 20%, of Medicare Part D spending from June 1, 2022, to May 31, 2023 according to the CMS.

Top Pharmacy News Story #2: A third class-action lawsuit has been filed against PBMs by independent pharmacies

Another class action lawsuit has been filed against Express Scripts alleging that the massive pharmacy benefit manager, one of the largest in the world, colluded with several smaller PBMs to rig reimbursement rates and shake down pharmacies for higher fees.

The lawsuit claims that Express Scripts used its dominant market position to push rival PBMs to impose excessive back-end fees on pharmacies and then share the revenue with Express Scripts. Express Scripts announced one such arrangement in 2019 with Prime Therapeutics, a smaller PBM.

The other two lawsuits were filed against UnitedHealth Group and its PBM, OptumRx and CVS Health, Caremark and Aetna.

Independent pharmacies do not need to sign up to benefit from the potential class action. The plaintiffs involved will ask the Court to allow it to pursue its claims on behalf of other pharmacies. If the Court permits that, pharmacies across the U.S. will be able to share in any money or other legal relief that is obtained.

Top Pharmacy News Story #3: City of Boston Sues Major PBMs Over Role in Opioid Crisis

The City of Boston, the Boston Public Health Commission and the Boston Housing Authority filed a lawsuit in Suffolk County Superior Court and names some of the largest PBMs in the US, including Express Scripts and OptumRx.

Boston’s lawsuit accuses the pharmacy benefit managers of colluding with drug makers to maximize profits by prioritizing the prescribing of addictive opioids despite the risks. The companies, the lawsuit alleges, profited from deals with drug makers that made it easier to prescribe opioids in exchange for financial incentives.

The defendants deny the allegations.

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Independent Pharmacy News Headlines for Week of 12-15-23

PBM reform is the big news story of the week.

U.S. Capitol image

AAP celebrates the passage of H.B. 5378 in the U.S. House of Representatives

This week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 5378, Lower Costs, More Transparency Act. According to NCPA, this legislation shines a light on PBM operations and tactics and encourages reform. It would help provide desperately needed relief while also saving taxpayer resources, prohibiting spread pricing and seeing that pharmacies are paid in a way that would cover their dispensing costs.

This bill also includes the Drug Price Transparency Act which would save taxpayers more than $1 billion over the next 10 years and prohibit spread pricing.

The bill now moves on to the U.S. Senate for passage. We will keep you informed when the vote is scheduled.

CMS issues warning to PBM-insurers, calling for reform

The second PBM reform news story is the warning issued by CMS to PBM insurers, calling on them to make sure independent pharmacies are adequately reimbursed.

The letter goes on to state, “In addition, we know that the increasing level of vertical integration that is occurring among plans, PBMs, and their own pharmacies has the potential to result in anticompetitive behavior and place independent pharmacies at a disadvantage. We urge plans and PBMs to engage in sustainable and fair practices with all pharmacies – not just pharmacies owned by PBMs – and we are closely monitoring plan compliance with CMS network adequacy standards and other requirements.” Read the full letter here

Cigna calls off merger with Humana

According to Reuters, U.S. health insurer Cigna has called off its attempt to negotiate an acquisition of Humana after the pair failed to agree on price. Cigna has announced plans to buy back $10 billion worth of shares.

A Cigna-Humana combination would have created a company with a value exceeding $140 billion, based on their market values, but was certain to attract fierce antitrust scrutiny. The discussions came six years after regulators blocked other deals between Humana-Aetna and Cigna-Anthem.

Cigna is still exploring the sale of its Medicare Advantage business, which manages government health insurance for people aged 65 and older, and its performance has been disappointing to investors.

Independent Pharmacy News Headlines – Week of Dec. 1, 2023

Woman with flu image - pharmacy news headlines

Flu is on the rise while RSV in children may be peaking

The CDC announced on Friday that flu cases are rising while RSV cases in children and the elderly may be at the peak.

In the meantime, COVID-19 continues to cause the most hospitalizations and kills about 1,000 every week.

According to IBM’s Predictive Flu 14-day Trigger, these will be the top risk-of-flu predictions for the next week:

Top Markets for Projected Flu Activity (Next 2 Weeks):

  • Columbus (OH)
  • Zanesville (OH)
  • Marquette (WI)
  • Providence-New Bedford (RI)
  • New York (NY)
  • Salt Lake City (UT)
  • Colorado Springs-Pueblo (CO)
  • Helena-Great Falls-Missoula (MT)
  • Seattle-Tacoma (WA)

WSJ reports Cigna and Humana in talks to merge

On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Cigna and Humana are discussing a stock-and-cash deal to merge. The merger may be completed as soon as the end of the year.

The rumored deal comes after reports in November that Cigna was exploring the possibility of selling it’s Medicare Advantage business. A Cigna spokesperson at the time said the company does not comment on “rumors or speculation.” 

The Cigna-Humana deal, however, will likely face anti-trust challenges over their PBM businesses. The combination of Express Scripts and Humana’s PBM would control about 35% of the market.

Neither company has yet to conform WSJ’s report.

Thousands of California pharmacies stop flavoring kids’ meds while awaiting new CBP rules

More than 3,000 California pharmacies earlier this month suspended their practice of flavoring medication because they’re awaiting new rules from the California Board of Pharmacy. CBP is charged with applying federal guidance that characterized the service as drug compounding, meaning the mixing of prescription medication.

The suspension of flavoring services by pharmacies follows new guidance from the United States Pharmacopeia, even though in 2010, the California Board of Pharmacy explicitly stated in its lawbook that drug compounding does not include “the addition of flavoring agent(s) to enhance palatability.”

California’s Board of Pharmacy is now preparing rules that will adopt the federal guidance. While these rules will not ban flavoring, pharmacists must comply with more stringent regulations when providing the service.

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FDA approves Mounjaro for weight loss

The Food and Drug Administration approved using Eli Lilly’s diabetes drug Mounjaro for weight loss

The obesity medication will be marketed under the name Zepbound and contains tirzepatide, the same active ingredient in the diabetes drug Mounjaro. The approval makes it the second in a new class of drugs to receive the agency’s OK as an obesity treatment. The drug will have a list price of $1,060, which is about 20% less than Novo Nordisk’s rival drug Wegovy.

Like semaglutide, the compound in Ozempic and Wegovy, tirzepatide (the compound in Zepbound) slows down the emptying of the stomach. People feel fuller, quicker and for longer. All three drugs also target the area of the brain that regulates appetite. But Ozempic has NOT received FDA approval for weight loss yet.

Semaglutide simulates a single hormone in the body, while tirzepatide mimics two, which experts say may be why it’s often more effective at triggering weight loss. In a 72-week clinical trial, funded by Eli Lilly, participants with obesity taking the highest dose of tirzepatide lost around 18 percent of their body weight on average.

According to Lilly, people with commercial insurance whose plan covers Zepbound may be eligible to pay as little as $25 for a one-month or three-month prescription. Those without coverage may be eligible to pay $550 for a one-month supply via a savings card program.

Maximize Sales with AAP Retail Plan-O-Grams

AAP Retail Plan-O-Grams

Maximize Your Independent Pharmacy’s Sales with AAP Retail Plan-O-Grams

AAP Retail Plan-O-Grams was developed through a unique approach to creating OTC plan-o-gram sets that draws from sources of retail data.

AAP’s Retail Plan-O-Grams is a visual merchandising tool that shows the placement of products on shelves in a store. Retail Plan-O-Grams can also show the layout of an entire store. 

Purpose 

  • Maximize sales
  • Minimize wasted space
  • Suggest optimum display for merchandise

Benefits 

  • Increased efficiency
  • Increased customer satisfaction
  • Increased revenue
  • Increased visual appeal

AAP Retail Plan-O-Grams helps you take advantage of: 

  • The most efficient shelf assortments based on your pharmacy’s needs 
  • Additional rebates on items you purchase – the more you purchase, the more rebate dollars you earn 
  • OTCs for your Plan-O-Gram are directly refillable for purchase from the Scan & Toss app 

And best of all, there is no cost to participate! Increase your store’s sales and profits with AAP Retail Plan-O-Grams. Contact your Territory Manager to learn more about this program. 

The six most important factors to consider when selecting an independent pharmacy buying group 

AAP logo- Pharmacy Newsroom
AAP blog - independent pharmacy buying group illustration

Selecting the right independent pharmacy buying group can affect your overall success

Whether you’re a new pharmacy owner or a seasoned operator, selecting the right independent pharmacy buying group can affect your overall success. You should regularly evaluate your business partners – wholesale suppliers, vendors, secondary suppliers and pharmacy buying groups. They are key components in the overall success of an independent pharmacy business operation. 

The stakes are high when the responsibility of choosing business partners, more specifically a buying group, falls on your shoulders. We believe the following factors are the most important when selecting a supplier to meet your business objectives. 

1. Does the pharmacy buying group’s mission align with your own? 

It’s important to question your group’s mission, values, goals and company culture when assessing whether or not they could be a good fit. When a group’s values align with yours, it’s typically a good indication that the partnership will work well. Differences in overall mission, values, goals and culture could potentially lead to conflict. 

2. What is the business structure of the organization? 

Is the group a for-profit entity, nonprofit, not-for-profit, or cooperative? Most groups will have fees or earn administrative dollars. Are the profits retained by the organization owners or shared with the member owners? 

3. What type of additional products or services does a group provide? 

Do some deep digging to understand the types of discounts, programs, analytics or services the group offers. There are strengths and economies realized with group buying power that, when used effectively, will provide efficiencies for group participants.  

4. Does the group or wholesale supplier require a contractual termination commitment? 

Your business will change and evolve. It is important that your business relationships provide flexibility. Understand there may appear to be advantages today for a two- or three-year purchasing commitment, but will those same advantages apply in 12 months, or even six months, as your business changes? Be careful not to put limitations on your business success by entering a fixed, long-term binding commitment. 

5. Does the group provide a customized and flexible purchasing program? 

When it comes to purchasing inventory for your pharmacy, there are many market forces and uncertainties that may require agility and change. Your pharmacy buying group’s ability to allow you to maintain flexibility, while also advising you on adjustments to optimize your buying strategy, is crucial. Do keep in mind that while it is easy for a group to claim they are flexible, real-world customer experience will usually indicate otherwise. 

6. Does the group show you how to purchase inventory? 

Wholesale supplier Brand Rx pricing, Generic Rx pricing, OTC pricing, rebates, secondary suppliers pricing, etc., are all tied together. Too much exclusive focus on any one element, without the consideration of the others, can negatively impact store profits. Aggregating purchases is the foundation of most groups, but no two pharmacies are the exact same. What works for one may be detrimental for another. It’s important to understand how to navigate and then maximize YOUR bottom line. 

Still don’t feel confident in your ability to select an independent pharmacy buying group? Contact AAP to learn more about how we can help you select the right independent pharmacy buying group. 

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What is AAP?

AAP logo

AAP is an independent pharmacy cooperative and buying group

AAP is a completely Member-owned independent pharmacy cooperative, where our Members are the stakeholders guiding how the business is operated. Additionally, millions in board-declared Annual Patronage Dividends are returned to Members each year. 

Our large co-op is comprised of more than 2,000 independent pharmacies and has the high-volume buying power to aggressively compete like the chains, while Members sign no long-term vendor contracts. 

With AAP, you can quickly adapt to changing market forces with our flexible purchasing options. You can enjoy agility within your PVA as you buy from either API Warehouse and/or our primary national wholesaler, to easily adhere to compliance requirements. 

Our independent pharmacy cooperative Members also have access to proprietary business tools, like ProfitAmp business intelligence, SmartSync bulk ordering program, Scan & Toss ordering solution, free OTC Retail Plan-O-Grams and more! These tools help you optimize your buying strategy and profit margin. 

Contact us to receive your store-specific, custom purchasing analysis.

FDA Approved Novavax COVID-19 Vaccine

FDA approved Novavax vaccine - AAP blog
Vaccine administration image – AAP blog

On Tuesday, the FDA approved the updated Novavax COVID-19 vaccine. The shot is expected to roll out weeks after updated vaccines from Pfizer’s and Moderna’s

Novavax’s single-strain vaccine targets omicron subvariant XBB.1.5, for emergency use in people ages 12 and up.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now including Novavax’s shot in the same recommendation it issued last month for updated vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. That recommendation says all Americans ages six months and older can receive an updated Covid jab.

Novavax announced that doses of the shot will likely be available within the next few days.

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10 Ways to Get More Money Out of Expired Products

Expiring inventory is a fact of life in any pharmacy, but you may be leaving money on the shelf if you aren’t taking certain steps to effectively manage your inventory. These 10 tips will help you minimize the number of products that go out of date and ensure you can get the most credit possible from the products that do expire on your shelves.

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Class-Action Lawsuit Filed Against CVS Health, Caremark and Aetna

Class=action lawsuit image - AAP legal news blog

A class-action lawsuit has been filed against CVS Health, Caremark and Aetna to recover millions of dollars for independent pharmacies in what lawyers say are wrongfully assessed pharmacy DIR fees for Medicare Part D prescriptions.

The suit claims that Caremark violated federal antitrust laws and state laws governing contracts while assessing DIR fees. The lawsuit also claims Caremark’s arbitration agreement is unenforceable.

NCPA will provide more information on the case as it develops. In the meantime, the lawyers representing the independent pharmacies will be at the NCPA Annual Convention in Orlando, October 14-17. If you would like to join the class-action lawsuit, this will be your first chance to speak to the attorneys. They will be available to meet with you privately to discuss other actions you can take to recoup wrongfully assessed DIR fees.

Remember, AAP Members and API Customers can save $100 when using the promo code “Buy100.” Register for the convention here.

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Rx Roundup for Sept. 22, 2023

National and state news affecting independent pharmacies

National Pharmacy News

This week, PBM’s were in the spotlight at the Capitol. During the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability hearing about PBMs, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle agreed that PBMs have too much power and very little transparency.

“Instead of fierce competition, now just three PBMs control 80% of the market, and each of the three major PBMs is owned by a major health insurer and owns or is owned by a pharmacy,” stated committee Chair James Comer (R-Ky.). “This means that when they negotiate with a health insurer, they are either negotiating with themselves or one of their direct competitors. The committee has made it a priority to expose the anticompetitive tactics by PBMs that are increasing healthcare costs for Americans and harming patient care.” Read more about the hearing.

U.S. map for Rx Roundup blog post Sept. 22

State Pharmacy News

Florida: Florida lawmakers approved the rules to implement several provisions of the Prescription Drug Reform Act (SB 1550). The rules increase accountability among PBMs. They include all application forms for PBMs seeking to operate in Florida in 2024. Any PBM that attempts to continue operating in Florida next year, and has not been approved as an insurance administrator, can be fined up to $10,000 per violation per day. Read more.

Washington: The Washington State Pharmacy Association (WSPA), NCPA, and NACDS are celebrating a settlement of a six-year lawsuit with the state of Washington. The state agreed to these terms among others:

  • Conduct a cost of dispensing study to move to cost-based dispensing fees
  • Provide more than $60 million in retroactive payments to pharmacies in Washington State’s fee-for-service Medicaid program
  • Use, for now, Oregon’s cost-based dispensing fees and tiers from July 1, 2023, going forward, until a new cost-based dispensing fee obtains necessary state and CMS approval.

Read more.

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Registration now open for 2024 AAP Annual Conference

Registration is now open for the 2024 AAP Annual Conference. All independent and community pharmacies are invited.

Join us in “America’s Finest City”- San Diego, April 4-6.

Springboarding off last year’s hugely successful event, the 2024 AAP Annual Conference is built around YOU! Our goal is to make sure you increase your knowledge, develop new strategies and learn useful tips you can use when you get back to your store. Our program features an informative lineup of speakers from across the country, educational CE sessions and a diverse collection of exhibitors.

And new this year, you have a chance to win $10k, $15k or $25k in API Warehouse credit! Details can be found here.

2024 AAP Annual Conference venue

The 2024 AAP Annual Conference will be hosted at the Town & Country Resort. This stylish mid-century themed hotel is centrally located to all that San Diego has to offer.

The property is adjacent to luxury shopping and golf, and within minutes of the airport, beautiful beaches, hiking, biking and world-class attractions.

With five lively restaurants and a lounge, three pools, Twister the 4-story waterslide, sand volleyball court, and fire pits, you will have plenty to do during your downtime.

Register now for the 2024 AAP Annual Conference.

FDA approves COVID-19 Vaccines

FDA approves COVID-19 vaccines for fall 2023

FDA approved updated versions of the Covid-19 vaccines made by Moderna and Pfizer as hospitalizations rise.

The vaccines are approved for those 12 years and up and are authorized under emergency use for those six months and up. A different vaccine made by Novavax is currently under review with the FDA for use in ages 12 and up.

Health experts will meet this week to discuss recommendations for using the new vaccines and are expected to be available by mid-September.

For these shots to reach the public, the CDC has to make an official recommendation, which could come as soon as Tuesday.

In June, US health officials told drugmakers to reformulate shots in time for fall that would protect against the XBB.1.5 subvariant that accounted for about 40% of Covid infections at the time.

Pfizer and Moderna have both said their updated shots also protect against EG.5, currently the most widely circulating variant.

Navigating Medicare Open Enrollment: What Every Pharmacist Should Know

The Medicare Open Enrollment period is a critical time for patients and pharmacists alike. As more Baby Boomers become eligible for Medicare, the beneficiary population is expected to increase from over 65 million beneficiaries today (as of March 2023) to over 80 million beneficiaries by 2030. Now more than ever, pharmacists must take an active role during Open Enrollment by offering services that help patients understand their plan options. Equipping yourself with the right knowledge could mean a tremendous amount of money saved for both your pharmacy and patients. As you plan to help your patients with navigating their options for the coming year, here are a few things to know:

Read More >>

Weekly Rx Roundup for Sept. 1, 2023

Top pharmacy news stories of the week

Walmart cuts pharmacist pay and hours

Weekly Rx Roundup Pharmacy medication image

In a plan to reduce costs, Reuters is reporting that Walmart is asking some of its 16,000 pharmacists across the country to voluntarily take pay cuts and reduce their work hours. The cuts, which are aimed at pharmacists in higher wage brackets, show how current demand for expensive weight loss GLP-1 medications, coupled with Walmart’s $3.1 billion opioid settlement, are adding to the company’s financial woes.

Walmart states that it was reducing the number of hours it was offering some pharmacists, claiming a drop-off in demand for medications during the summer and requests from pharmacists for a less demanding job. Read more.

CMS selects first drugs for Medicare price negotiation

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has released the first ten drugs that will be available for price negotiation under Medicare Part D. Under the Inflation Reduction Act, Medicare will be able to negotiate the prices of prescription drugs with participating drug companies beginning this year and in 2024, which will become effective in 2026. 

The drugs are:

  • Eliquis
  • Jardiance
  • Xarelto
  • Januvia
  • Farxiga
  • Entresto
  • Enbrel
  • Imbruvica
  • Stelara
  • Fiasp; Fiasp FlexTouch; Fiasp PenFill; NovoLog; NovoLog FlexPen; NovoLog PenFill

HHS officials call for reclassification of marijuana to Schedule III drug

Bloomberg is reporting that officials with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are recommending easing restrictions on marijuana and reclassifying it under the Controlled Substances Act. A top official with the department wrote a letter to a Drug Enforcement Agency administrator saying that marijuana should be classified as a Schedule III drug, which means it has a low potential for abuse. Marijuana is currently a Schedule I drug, meaning it has no medically accepted use and a high potential for abuse. The decision to reclassify marijuana resides with the DEA, which could take months to complete its evaluation.

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FDA Delays DSCSA Deadline Until November 2024

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The Food and Drug Administration has issued a one-year delay on the final enhanced drug distribution security requirements under the Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA). Those requirements were set to take effect in November. The new date will be Nov. 27, 2024.

The decision to delay the DSCSA requirements was made after several advocates warned the FDA that the supply chain was not ready to comply. The extended time aims to allow each sector of the pharmaceutical supply chain time to develop the systems and processes necessary for efficient transactions. Read more.

New COVID vaccines expected in September

New COVID vaccines expected in September image

According to the Centers for Disease Control, new COVID vaccines are expected in September. Vaccines from Moderna, Pfizer and Novavax will be designed to target omicron subvariant XBB.1.5.

Those vaccines still need approvals from the Food and Drug Administration and the CDC, which will form eligibility guidelines.

The arrival of updated vaccines offers some peace of mind to Americans as the U.S. sees an increase in COVID cases and hospitalizations. The current surge appears to be fueled by newer strains of the virus like EG.5, or Eris, an omicron subvariant that accounted for 17.3% of all cases as of last week, according to the CDC. 

But the efficacy of the new COVID vaccine boosters is unknown against another new omicron strain of the virus called BA.2.86, which has been identified in a very small number of cases in the U.S., U.K., Denmark and Israel. Read more.

To order your vaccine program supplies from API Warehouse, like gloves and syringes, click here.

Southeastern Grocers is selling pharmacy businesses to CVS and Walgreens

After announcing last week that it was selling off Winn-Dixie and Harveys Supermarkets to Aldi, and Fresco y Más to an investment company, the news broke this week that Southeastern Grocers is selling the pharmacy business to CVS and Walgreens.

According to internal emails obtained by the Tampa Bay Times, Southeastern Grocers told its pharmacists that it will sell all of its Winn-Dixie and Harveys pharmacy business by the end of the year.

“Prior to the closing of the proposed merger agreements recently announced, Southeastern Grocers has entered into agreements to transfer prescription files to certain CVS Pharmacies and Walgreens,” confirmed Southeastern Grocers communication director Meredith Hurley in an email. Read more.

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Preparing for the 2024 DIR Fee Hangover

Preparing for DIR Fee Hangover image

AAP is helping our Members prepare for the 2024 DIR Fee Hangover

According to a survey by NCPA, approximately 98 percent of pharmacists are concerned about the upcoming 2024 DIR fee hangover and the impact it could have on their pharmacies. Many are even worried that it could lead to pharmacy closures. So, the time to prepare is NOW!

Here are five useful tips to help you prepare.

#1. According to NCPA, the first tip for preparing for the DIR fee hangover is going back to your accounting basics and understanding your cashflow.

There are many key performance indicators, or KPIs, in pharmacy. One cash flow KPI is the Current Ratio, which is current assets divided by current liabilities. How you classify those current assets and liabilities is vital to an accurate ratio. The industry average is around 2.5 to 1, so $2.50 of cash, receivables and inventory for every $1 of current debt. It is wise to know your ratio and aim for a 3 or 3.5 to 1 current ratio going into 2024. This would give you a cash flow cushion to hopefully weather any DIR unknowns.

#2. Our second tip to help you thrive during the 2024 DIR hangover is by increasing your gross margin. The average pharmacy gross margin is anywhere from 23-24%. Increasing this margin will go a long way to improving your cash flow.

One way to increase revenue is to find niches markets, such as women’s health, travel vaccines, pet meds, or nutritional supplements, to fill the holes in your community’s healthcare. Offering unique services to your patients will go a long way to improving your gross margin.

#3. You can find our third tip in the EnlivenHealth DIR Fee Hangover Playbook. To predict the DIR fees that PBMs will attempt to collect in the first quarter of 2024, look at the DIR fees collected from the same timeframe in 2023. (This should be easy to do in your third-party reconciliation platform.) Once you have that number, set it as your savings benchmark. That’s the amount of cash you need to set aside by the beginning of 2024 to avoid the sting of the DIR Fee Hangover.

#4. Our fourth tip is keeping your expenses in check. Your expenses are one of the most important factors to your cash flow and bottom line. When you are trying to figure out the best ways to combat the DIR hangover, your time is best spent focusing on the expenses that will make a big impact: cost of goods sold and wages.

Maximize your PVA

Make sure you are maximizing your purchasing with your Prime Vendor Agreement (PVA). AAP now offers multiple options for stores to help create a buying plan to fit your needs. A good PVA can increase your margin percentage. Contact our team to see which PVA option is right for you.

Keep wages in check

Technology and automation are two ways to help run payroll effectively. Check out the AAP Preferred Partners to see if any of them can help with your store’s needs.

#5. Our fifth tip is to open a business line of credit. If you are worried about cash flow next year, it can be a useful tool to have available for short-term cash flow issues. 

Funds are typically drawn from the line of credit by using a business checking account, a small business credit card or even a mobile banking app.

But a word of caution, these can be dangerous cash flow tools in a pharmacy because they are NOT free money. Lines of credit are usually higher-interest debt. These are not mid- or long-term debt cash flow solutions for a pharmacy, and you shouldn’t rely on them for those needs.

Any time access to a line of credit is utilized, there must be a plan in place on how and when it will be paid back. Long-term cash flow issues within a pharmacy should not be addressed with short-term debt solutions such as a line of credit.

If we learned anything from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that independent pharmacists are innovators. Preparing now will help you thrive in 2024.

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No Strike for UPS

UPS Teamsters members approve 5-year contract

The Teamsters Union members voted to approve the tentative contract agreement reached last month, ending contentious labor negotiations that threatened to disrupt package deliveries for thousands of pharmacies nationwide.

The Teamsters said in a statement that within the highest voted election ever, 86% of the votes casts were in favor of ratifying the contract.

The union ratified more than 40 supplemental agreements except for one that covers about 170 members in Florida. The national master agreement will go into effect as soon as that supplement is renegotiated and ratified, it said.

UPS said voting results for contracts covering employees under two local unions are expected soon. The new contract sets a new standard for pay and benefits.

“Our members just ratified the most lucrative agreement the Teamsters have ever negotiated at UPS,” Teamsters General President Sean M. O’Brien said in a statement. “This contract will improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of workers.” Read more.

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Weekly Rx Roundup for Aug. 18, 2023

Top pharmacy news stories of the week

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Moderna’s updated COVID-19 vaccine is effective against Eris variant

In this Weekly Rx Roundup, Moderna reports an initial study data showed its updated COVID-19 vaccine to be effective against the “Eris” and “Fornax” subvariants in humans.

The company expects the updated shot to be available, pending approval from the FDA, in the coming weeks for the fall vaccination season.

Pfizer has reported that its updated COVID-19 shot showed success at neutralizing activity against the Eris subvariant in a study conducted on mice. Pfizer has yet to complete its study in humans.

Eris, the nickname for EG.5, is a sub-lineage of the still-dominant Omicron variant. EG.5 accounted for about more than 17% of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., according to the latest government data. Infections from Fornax, officially known as FL 1.5.1, are also rising across the country.

Two big PBM stories in this Weekly Rx Roundup

Shares of CVS Health plunged 8% on Thursday after Blue Shield of California said it will drop the company’s pharmacy benefit management services and instead partner with Mark Cuban’s Cost Plus Drugs company and Amazon Pharmacy to save on drug costs for its nearly 5 million members. 

The announcement hints at the potential for health insurers to abandon the traditional pharmacy benefit manager, or PBM, system and sent shares of other companies that offer PBM services lower.

CVS Health’s Caremark has been Blue Shield’s PBM partner for more than 15 years. 

The other big story is that the United States Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday issued an unfavorable decision in the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA) v. Mulready appeal.

The decision overturns Oklahoma’s effort to regulate pharmaceutical benefit managers (PBMs) – and likely would have implications for other states as well. The ruling allowing PBMs to escape certain state regulation by hiding behind the alleged preemption of that law by federal ERISA and Medicare Part D laws. 

“The Tenth Circuit decision is inconsistent with what other federal courts have decided, and it departs from the Supreme Court’s unanimous Rutledge decision, which clearly held that PBMs can’t hide behind ERISA. It must be overturned,” said B. Douglas Hoey, CEO of the National Community Pharmacists Association.

AAP is following this story closely and will keep you updated as it unfolds.

PrimeRx™ Technician Training Webinar

AAP Preferred Partner – Mirco Merchant Systems

In this pre-recorded webinar, please join Robert Dahne, Software Trainer, Micro Merchant Systems for technician training on their PrimeRx™ system.

Micro Merchant Systems is a pharmacy technology company that has been providing exceptional management solutions to the Independent Pharmacy Market for 30 years. Thousands of pharmacies throughout the U.S trust their PrimeRx™ system to manage their Retail, Long-Term Care, Specialty, Compounding, 340B, Mail order, Physician’s office, Hospital & Health System Outpatient, and Hub Service Pharmacy technology needs.

Micro Merchant Systems Windows-based PrimeRx™ Pharmacy Management System serves as a local or hosted platform for their innovative solution offerings. At Micro Merchant Systems, they offer products, services, APPs, APIs, and vendor interfaces to keep the pharmacy running at the peak of performance.

For more information, please email Micro Merchant Systems at sales@micromerchantsystems.com or call (866) 495-3999 to set up a PrimeRx™ Demo. Visit online at www.micromerchantsystems.com.

Weekly Rx Roundup for Aug. 7, 2023

Top pharmacy news stories of the week:

PBS News Hour Story: How the prescription drug supply chain is killing local pharmacies

Understanding the independent pharmacy business in the U.S.

August legislative recess is here

AAP logo- Pharmacy Newsroom Weekly Rx Roundup
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FDA Approves First Postpartum Depression Pill

The Food and Drug Administration approved the first-ever pill for postpartum depression. In trials, the treatment improved depression symptoms among new mothers as early as three days after they started the medication.

The medication, called zuranolone, is taken daily for two weeks. In clinical trials involving women who experienced postpartum depression, the drug improved symptoms — such as anxiety, difficulty sleeping, loss of pleasure, low energy, guilt or social withdrawal. Read more.

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Understanding the independent pharmacy business in the U.S.

By understanding the independent pharmacy business, we can work to make the most of our distinct advantages to meet consumer needs

McKinsey & Company conducted a consumer survey of more than 1,000 people and leads us to better understanding the independent pharmacy business in the U.S. They published their findings in this article, laying out how the retail pharmacy landscape has changed over the years, how consumer preferences have evolved, and how different types of retail pharmacies may respond as a result.

The U.S. retail pharmacy landscape faces saturated retail locations, ongoing labor shortages, inflationary pressure and a leveling-off of generic drug penetration. To effectively compete in this environment, all independent and community pharmacies can strive to better understand and adapt to changing consumer preferences.

This study gives us a snapshot of the market, where we are trailing the big chains and where we can make substantial gains.

How the retail pharmacy landscape has evolved

Over the past two decades, the retail pharmacy landscape has evolved substantially. This survey breaks down the retail pharmacy sector into four categories: retail chains, regional pharmacies such as mass retail and grocers, independent pharmacies, and mail-order and online pharmacies.

McKinsey & Company graph image - understanding the independent pharmacy business

According to McKinsey & Company, the number of independent pharmacies has decreased by nearly 50 percent since 1980, leveling off at about 20,000 locations since 2000. While filling about 48,000 prescriptions a year, independent and community pharmacies remain viable through effective collaboration with other independents and wholesalers. This cooperation has taken the form of support from wholesalers like API Warehouse, pharmacy service administrative organizations, and group-purchasing organizations like AAP.

Understanding the independent pharmacy business in the U.S. is key for retail pharmacies. We can ensure we understand and meet consumers’ needs so we are a preferred destination. Click here to read the full report and gain more insight to understanding and improving your pharmacy’s business.

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August legislative recess is here

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Schedule meetings with your local policymakers during the August legislative recess

The August legislative recess is here. This is the perfect time to invite your local state and federal policymakers to your store and explain how they can help your business.

With the flurry of activity this year on Capitol Hill lawmakers looking to hold PBMs’ feet to the fire, AAP and NCPA members have testified before the House Oversight and Accountability Committee and the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, as well as the Senate Commerce Committee.

Additionally, the Drug Price Transparency in Medicaid Act, was unanimously advanced out of the Energy and Commerce Committee to the House floor as part of the PATIENT Act. These are all encouraging developments, but we need to keep the pressure on policymakers to finish the job and send a comprehensive PBM reform bill to the president’s desk.

This can best be accomplished by hosting members of Congress and candidates in your pharmacy for one-on-one meetings, giving them a firsthand look at the important role you play in your community and in helping your patients, and highlighting the harm abusive PBM practices have on both your pharmacy and your patients. If you aren’t sure how to contact them, you can look up their information here.

During the August legislative recess, members of Congress are usually home meeting with constituents. This is a very opportune time to host your legislators in your pharmacy.

We need all community and LTC pharmacists to participate in this important month of action and keep the pressure on our elected officials to take strong legislative action.

When you do host your local lawmaker, let AAP know. Send us an email and pictures so we can share with our other Members on social media and in our weekly newsletter.

Take advantage of this great opportunity to promote yours and every independent and community pharmacy.

LTC Pharmacy

As you know, there has much information and talk about LTC Pharmacy at Home.  The need for better pharmacy care for people who are homebound or need assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) is a reality with the increasing elderly population. According to projections in a new report from the Population Reference Bureau (PRB), the aging of the baby boom generation (those born between 1946 and 1964) could fuel a 75 percent increase in the number of Americans ages 65 and older requiring nursing home care, to about 2.3 million in 2030 from 1.3 million in 2010. New facilities are not being built today to accommodate people with institutional needs.

Those numbers stress the need to find new ways to administer care and pharmacy services to aging adults with medical conditions and impairments limiting their ability to care for themselves. Long term care (LTC) pharmacy at home is a new way for LTC pharmacies to care for people needing institutional care but who desire to stay in their home or are financially unable to be admitted into a facility.

Many of these people are participating in a home and community-based waiver (HCBS) program from their state where Medicaid pays for institutional care in their home, or they are homebound and need assistance with two or more ADLs (activities of daily living) or IADLs (instrumental activities of daily living). 

While the definition of pharmacy services required to be provided to people qualifying for LTC pharmacy services, a new coalition and others in the industry are providing clarity on these needed services.   The independent community LTC Pharmacy, whether in closed door pharmacy or in a combination pharmacy (retail and LTC), is the best solution in providing pharmacy care to these patients and to assist in decreasing hospitalizations and emergency department visits. We know that people who do not take their medications correctly – too much, too little, wrong time, wrong dose – frequently have complications that result in ER visits and hospitalizations.  A new coalition, the Alliance for LTC Pharmacy at Home is developing strategies to define, promote and get these services paid by insurers (https://www.pharmacyathome.org/). 

Read More >>

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Weekly Rx Roundup for 7-31-23

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Your weekly Rx roundup of news stories affecting independent pharmacy

Top Stories

PBM reform bill advances in Senate vote

UPS and Teamsters Union Reach Tentative Contract

NCPA logo image - Month of Action

NCPA’s Month of Action Starts August 1

Join your colleagues all over the country for NCPA’s Month of Action and get the attention of the people whose vote matters to your pharmacy’s future. Invite your Congressional rep or Senator for visit while they are form for the August recess. Make sure they understand how important it is to keep pressure on PBMs and fight for a competitive and fair business environment.

Pressure is working. In the past week, Senate Finance Committee approved legislation that includes strong PBM reforms, passing the Modernizing and Ensuring PBM Accountability Act by a vote of 26-1. Now it’s on the way to the full Senate before it can proceed to the House of Representatives. Keep the momentum going by contacting your lawmaker today and getting them to visit your pharmacy. The fight isn’t over, so let’s put the action in Month of Action.

Pfizer’s New Migraine Treatment Now Available in U.S. Pharmacies

After FDA approval in March, Zavzpret is now available in U.S. pharmacies. The medication is the first and only calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) receptor antagonist nasal spray for acute migraine treatment in adults. For the nearly 40 million Americans living with migraines, this approval provides an alternative option for relief, especially for those who have contraindications or poor responses to triptans and other acute migraine medications. Read more.

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PBM reform advances in Senate vote

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Breaking News: PBM reform bill advances in Senate vote

More good news for independent pharmacies – a PBM reform bill advances in Senate vote. On July 26, the U. S. Senate voted 26-1 to advance the Modernizing and Ensuring PBM Accountability Act to a vote of the full Senate. This vote is a big step for independent pharmacies because this PBM reform package contains several provisions to enhance transparency into PBM-insurer operations, improve patient access to community pharmacies, and ensure fair pharmacy reimbursements that are based on actual acquisition and dispensing costs.

After a full U.S. Senate vote, the next step would be a vote in the House of Representatives. No date has been set for that, however.

The package also contains language from two other bills: the Drug Price Transparency in Medicaid Act (S. 1038), which creates a fairer reimbursement rate for pharmacies operating in Medicaid managed care, and the Protect Patient Access to Pharmacies Act (S. 2052), which reforms Medicare Part D by clarifying and providing enforcement tools for the any willing pharmacy law. NCPA has more details about the PBM reform bill that advanced in Senate vote

UPS and Teamsters Union Reach Tentative Contract

Breaking news image - UPS and Teamsters Union reach tentative contract

UPS and Teamsters Union have reached a tentative contract, potentially averting a strike that threatened to disrupt package deliveries for independent pharmacies nationwide.

The agreement was announced Tuesday, the first day that UPS and the Teamsters returned to the bargaining table after negotiations broke down earlier in July.

Negotiators for UPS and the Teamsters Union had already reached tentative agreements on several issues, including cameras and air conditioning in the delivery trucks. But clashes continued over increasing pay for part-time workers, who make up more than half of the UPS employees represented by the union.

Teamsters will begin voting on the new five-year contract Aug. 3 and concludes Aug. 22.

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FTC abandons statements and studies that benefit PBMs

NCPA logo image - FTC reevaluating PBMs due to NCPA advocacy

Another blow to was dealt to the PBM industry last week. Federal Trade Commission voted unanimously to warn that some of its previous advocacy statements related to PBMs no longer reflect current market realities. The decision effectively removes a major line of defense for the PBM-insurers in litigation, arbitration, and lobbying against state and federal reforms.

Our friends at NCPA were instrumental in persuading the commissioners to reconsider the agency’s prior statements and ultimately bring it to a vote. Read more on NCPA.org.

Weekly Rx Roundup for July 17, 2023

Your weekly independent pharmacy news update

AAP is at RBC this week

The AAP is in Boston this week at RBC. Come meet with our team and get updates on the AAP Prime Vendor Agreement, ProfitAmp, AlignRx and more. Plus, relax and enjoy some fun with Virtual Reality, cornhole and a golf putting green!

New Jersey joins in the fight against PBMs

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed three bills to help make prescription drugs more affordable for New Jerseyans. The three bills will work together to cap certain out-of-pocket costs, establish greater oversight of Pharmacy Benefit Managers, and promote transparency across the pharmaceutical supply chain. Read more.

Birth control goes OTC

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Opill (norgestrel) tablet for nonprescription use to prevent pregnancy. Opill is the first daily oral contraceptive approved for use in the U.S. without a prescription. Approval of this progestin-only oral contraceptive pill provides consumers a choice to purchase oral contraceptives without a prescription at independent and community pharmacies.  Read more.

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Weekly Rx Roundup for July 10, 2023

Your weekly independent pharmacy news update

Preparing for this fall’s tripledemic

To prevent a repeat of last winter’s “tripledemic” of respiratory illnesses, Americans will be encouraged to roll up their sleeves not just for flu shots but for two other vaccines, one of them entirely new.

The three shots — flu, Covid and R.S.V. — may help to reduce hospitalizations and deaths later this year. But there are uncertainties about how the vaccines are best administered, who is most likely to benefit, and what the risks may be.

For older and immunocompromised Americans, all three vaccines are vital. Yet it’s unclear how many Americans will opt for the shots. 71% of adults ages 65 and older got a flu shot this past winter, but only about 43% chose to get the Covid booster.

The misery of the past winter may help change minds. The flu may have led to as many as 58,000 deaths, peaking in December, according to the C.D.C. Covid claimed roughly 50,000 lives between November and March.

R.S.V. kills up to 10,000 people each year, most of them older. Infections this year peaked in November and resulted in about twice as many hospitalizations, including children, as in prepandemic years.

Only the Covid and flu vaccines were available last fall. The R.S.V. vaccines for adults are new, and in clinical trials proved to be highly effective against infection of the lower respiratory tract, which includes the lungs.

FDA approves Alzheimer’s drug Leqembi

The Food and Drug Administration fully approved the Alzheimer’s treatment Leqembi, which will expand access to the expensive drug for older Americans.

Medicare announced shortly after the FDA approval that it is now covering the antibody treatment for patients enrolled in the insurance program for seniors, though several conditions apply.

Leqembi is the first Alzheimer’s antibody treatment to receive full FDA approval. It is also the first such drug to receive broad coverage through Medicare. Read more.

Five Adalimumab biosimilars launched on July 1 in the U.S.

July 1 marked the launch of five different adalimumab (Humira) biosimilars, setting off the first round of therapeutic alternatives into the market, including adalimumab-abdm (Cyltezo), adalimumab-aqvh (Yusimry), adalimumab-bwwd (Hadlima), adalimumab-adaz (Hyrimoz), and adalimumab-fkjp (Hulio). These medications join adalimumab-atto (Amjevita), the first adalimumab biosimilar that launched earlier this year.1 Read more at Drug Topics.

CMS issues revised guidance to Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Program

CMS recently issued revised guidance to Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Program. CMS noted that the majority of the comments received from supply chain entities on this topic, including manufacturers and pharmacies, supported the use of a standardized, published pricing metric to calculate the refund due from the manufacturer to the pharmacy for the pass through of the maximum fair price as required under the program. Read more.

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Weekly Rx Roundup for June 29, 2023

Your weekly independent pharmacy news update

Senate considers bill to combat high DIR fees

The Protect Patient Access to Pharmacies Act (S. 2052) was introduced this week to the U.S. Senate. This bill addresses the abusive business practices by pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) that have resulted in the growth of pharmacy direct and indirect remuneration (DIR) fees and have led to pharmacy closures.

The bill, supported by NCPA and APhA among others, will help to secure Medicare patients’, who are typically seniors, freedom to receive medications and care from the pharmacy of their choice by improving enforcement of the “any willing pharmacy” law. This law is intended to prevent the exclusion of pharmacies from Part D plan networks.

The Patient Access Act is only the most recent effort working toward DIR fee relief as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) proposed rule made in early 2022 goes into effect in the beginning of 2024. CMS’ proposed rule will work to reduce the financial burden on independent pharmacies and increase transparency in the PBM industry. Read more.

Approval for GLP-1-based weight loss pills on the FDA horizon?

The buzz about Eli Lilly’s experimental pill for weight loss is growing. Retatrutide helped people lose an average of 15% of their body weight after 36 weeks on the highest dose in a mid-stage trial, and as much as 24% of their weight over 48 weeks — the biggest reduction reported to date in clinical trials of a new class of obesity treatments. These results are rivaling what’s seen with currently approved injectable therapies like Wegovy over longer durations.

The drug, orforglipron, had similar side effects as others in the class, known as GLP-1 receptor agonists: primarily gastrointestinal events like nausea, constipation and vomiting, researchers reported in a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Read more.

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Weekly Rx Roundup for 6-19-23

Your weekly independent pharmacy news update

AAP Member Featured in Drug Topics Podcast

AAP Member Greg Mitchell sat down with Drug Topics to discuss the importance of being connected to your community when running a rural pharmacy. You can listen to the entire podcast here.

FDA Committee Recommends Development of Monovalent, XBB-Containing Vaccines for the Fall

The FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) has unanimously recommended that COVID-19 vaccines being developed for this fall should only include protection against the XBB variant.

Trial results showed that among 101 participants who had previously received 4 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, an XBB-containing vaccine was more effective against the currently circulating XBB variants. Read more.

ACA preventive care mandate maintained, for now

A federal appeals court maintained a freeze on a ruling that struck down the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that employers and insurers fully cover preventive health services while a legal challenge to the rule continues to wind through the courts.

The decision from the New Orleans-based U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeal means that over 150 million people’s health care coverage for certain cancer screenings, behavioral counseling and HIV prevention by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force will remain in place for the time being.

Biden names Mandy Cohen — former North Carolina health secretary — to lead CDC

President Biden named Dr. Mandy Cohen as the next leader of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Cohen served in top positions in state and federal government and in the private sector. She served as health secretary in North Carolina, where she worked on expanding access to health care for low-income residents and became the face of the state’s COVID-19 response during the public health emergency. Read more.

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Diversifying Revenue

Your patients rely on you to dispense the right medication for their unique needs. The same level of care should be taken when it comes to your pharmacy’s financial health. We’ll explore strategic and effective ways to diversify your pharmacy’s revenue and ensure long-term success. So, grab your pad and pen, and get ready to lay a foundation for financial well-being for your pharmacy.

Why Diversification is Crucial:

Diversification is important for several reasons. First and foremost, it helps protect your pharmacy against economic downturns and changes in the industry. By diversifying your revenue streams, you’ll be less reliant on any one source of income, which can help you weather any storms that come your way. Additionally, diversification can help you attract new customers and build loyalty with existing ones. By offering a wider range of products and services, you’ll be better able to meet the needs of your customers and keep them coming back to your pharmacy. Read More >>

Weekly Rx Roundup for 6-2-23

AAP Member in the News

We are proud of AAP Member, Kevin Duane, and his fight against PBMs. His advocacy helped pass legislation in Florida and now he’s moved into the national spotlight.

If you didn’t catch his testimony before the bi-partisan U.S. House of Representatives Oversight Commitee, you can watch it here.

FDA approves first oral antiviral for treatment of COVID-19 in adults

FDA gave full approval of the oral antiviral, Paxlovid, for the treatment of mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in adults who are at high risk for progression to severe COVID-19. This includes those at risk for hospitalization or death. Paxlovid is the fourth drug — and first oral antiviral pill — approved by the FDA to treat COVID-19 in adults. The U.S. government will continue to oversee the distribution of Paxlovid, and U.S. residents eligible for the medication will continue to receive the medicine at no charge, according to Pfizer. Read more.

N.Y. federal appeals court clears the way for Purdue Pharma bankruptcy deal

In a landmark ruling Tuesday, a federal appeals court in New York cleared the way for a bankruptcy deal for Purdue Pharma. The deal will shield members of the Sackler family, who own the company, from future lawsuits.

The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals spent more than a year reviewing the case after a lower court ruled it was improper for Purdue Pharma’s bankruptcy deal to block future opioid-related lawsuits against the Sackler family. The Sacklers earned billions of dollars from the sale of OxyContin and other opioid pain medications.

This latest ruling overturns the lower court’s December 2021 decision and clears the way for a deal hashed out with thousands of state and local governments. Read more.

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Weekly Rx Roundup – May 21, 2023

FTC deepens inquiry into PBMs

(Courtesy of NCPA) As part of its ongoing inquiry into pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) and their impact on the accessibility and affordability of prescription drugs, the Federal Trade Commission issued compulsory orders to two group purchasing organizations that negotiate drug rebates on behalf of other PBMs. The orders will require these entities to provide information and records on their business practices. Having previously issued compulsory orders to the six largest PBMs in the U.S. healthcare industry, the FTC yesterday issued two additional orders to Zinc Health Services, LLC, and Ascent Health Services, LLC.

House panel advances transparency and PBM bills

(Courtesy of Axios) On Wednesday, a House Energy and Commerce Committee advanced a health markup in a unanimous 27-0 vote to:

  • Codify and strengthen Trump-era rules for hospitals and insurers to make health care prices available and more transparent.
  • Impose new transparency requirements on PBMs and ban “spread pricing” in Medicaid, where PBMs charge more than they pay for a drug and keep the difference. Read more.

1 in 5 older adults skipped or delayed medications last year because of cost

(Courtesy of NBC News) A growing number of older adults say they can’t afford their prescription medications, a study published Thursday in JAMA Network Open found.

About 1 in 5 adults ages 65 and up either skipped, delayed, took less medication than was prescribed, or took someone else’s medication last year because of concerns about cost, according to the study. 

“That was pretty surprising,” said lead study author Stacie Dusetzina, a health policy professor at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. A study published in the journal Medical Care found that in 2016 about 1 in 7 older adults were not taking their medication as prescribed because of cost.

“So a pretty big jump,” Dusetzina said. 

The study’s findings were based on a national survey taken by more than 2,000 older adults from June 2022 through September 2022. Read more.

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Weekly Rx Roundup – May 12, 2023

After more than three years, the COVID-19 public health emergency ended Thursday.

While many Americans may not initially notice the sunsetting of the declaration, they are likely to feel it if they come down with COVID-19 or suspect they might have it. They could have to start paying for testing and treatment that they’ve grown used to being free during the pandemic. Just how much depends on the type of health coverage they have. Get the testing and vaccine details here.

FDA Advisory panel votes unanimously in favor of making Opill birth control an OTC

Advisers to the Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday voted unanimously to recommend making a birth control pill available without a prescription. 

The 17-0 vote by two advisory panels came despite concerns from agency officials about the quality of the data used to support switching Opill from prescription to over the counter. The agency did not have concerns about the safety and effectiveness of the drug.

The FDA is not required to follow the recommendation but the panel’s opinion will weigh heavily on the FDA’s final decision, which is expected later this summer. Read more here.

FDA approves Rexulti for the treatment of agitation associated with Alzheimer disease dementia (AAD)

It is now the first FDA-approved treatment indicated for AAD in the U.S. According to John J. Miller, MD, Editor in Chief of Psychiatric Times. “Baby boomers are retiring and Alzheimer disease is on the rise, and AAD in one of the most difficult complications of dementia. Meanwhile, the need for treatments of Alzheimer disease and dementia remains huge and largely unaddressed. This approval parallels nicely with recent drug development and research working on decreasing disease progression by removing amyloid plaque with monoclonal antibodies and improving cognitive function.” Read more.

Rely on Prescription Refill Automation for Improved Efficiency and Pharmacy Productivity

A late-2021 analysis by Deloitte about “the future of the pharmacy” includes what may seem to be an obvious observation, but one that still warrants repeating: “Most people don’t realize that pharmacists can perform a range of complex clinical functions around therapy optimization, not just dispense pills.”

The analysis reaches the conclusion that, while the COVID-19 pandemic provided an opportunity for pharmacists to increase their role in providing hands-on patient care, there was no proportionate reduction in the time required to dispense medications. In fact, the article notes, dispensing demands have only increased, as reduced reimbursement and dispensing fees, along with increased direct and indirect renumeration (DIR) fees have caused many pharmacies to actively look to increase prescription volume.

Read More >>

Guide to Buying an Independent Pharmacy

What do you need to consider when buying an independent pharmacy?

Whether buying your first business or tenth, acquiring an independent pharmacy presents unique challenges. Similar to any retail business, you’ll be performing your due diligence evaluating:

  • Location: What’s the neighborhood like demographically? What kind of walk-by or drive-in traffic might you expect? What type of competition are you up against?
  • Property: Is the building owned or leased? What repairs or renovations will be needed? Can it support the business needs you envision?
  • Inventory: What OTC, DME, beauty, giftware, or other categories of inventory are currently sold? What is included as part of the sale?
  • Staff: What are the current staffing levels and related costs? Who are the current team members? What are their skills? Who is essential?
  • Financial viability: Is the business worth the price?

But when you buy an independent pharmacy, there are more dimensions to understand about each of these elements. They involve additional evaluation, regulation, legal, and financial guidance to determine what may or may not be a good buy for you. Below is a guide to some things to consider as you make your plans. Read More >>

SmartSync

SmartSync Pharmacy Bulk Ordering Program

Ordering your most popular items can be done simply with SmartSync, AAP’s customized intelligence-based bulk ordering program. It is available to AAP Members who are opted into ProfitAmp Full Access or ProfitAmp Monthly Assessment, and it is designed to help you save even more on your pharmacy’s most common inventory. 

Watch the video to see how it works. 

First, AAP analyzes your dispensing data each month to suggest a thirty-day supply bulk order, customized to your store’s needs.   

Then, we notify you that your suggested SmartSync order is ready to view on APIRx.com. Your prime vendor GCR and rebate structure are taken into account and API NDCs with the highest-dollar savings are selected. 

Next, within three days, you can approve the order as-is or adjust the order based on your current inventory.   

And finally, you will receive an extra five percent off the invoice price (minus controlled substances) for receiving your order by ground shipping.

That’s it. Fast and Easy. SmartSync saves you time and money. *

To find out how SmartSync can help you, contact your AAP territory manager today. 

*$49 monthly program fee is waived when an order is placed.

Scan & Toss

Scan & Toss

Make restocking your shelves fast and easy with Scan & Toss. Available on both Android and Apple devices, shopping from API Warehouse is more convenient than ever.  

You now have the freedom to quickly purchase from API Warehouse and AAP’s primary contracted wholesaler, anywhere you go, straight from your mobile device.  

Watch the video to see how it works.

You can place your order with just a few taps. You simply scan a product’s barcode to get started, or manually enter an item’s UPC, NDC, API or Cardinal item number, or search by item description.  

The app works with Brand Rx, Generic Rx, and even OTC products. It goes wherever you go, allowing you to place and view orders quickly and efficiently, no matter where you are!  

Scan & Toss syncs all your data across multiple devices! Plus, you can review past orders right on your phone. And the app’s Message Center delivers your rebate information as soon as your API order is placed. 

To get the Scan & Toss Mobile app, you can download it from the Google Play Store on your Android device or the App Store on your Apple device.  

Contact your A-A-P territory manager to get started today. 

2023 set to be a banner year for new prescription drugs

A group of pricey breakthrough prescription drugs are poised to shake up the market this year — including an Alzheimer’s treatment that could be approved today by the FDA.

Why it matters: Though the drugs offer hope to patients with hard-to-treat conditions like Alzheimer’s or sickle cell disease, or who struggle with obesity, their potentially eye-popping prices are sure to create dilemmas for insurers, government programs and patients themselves.

The big picture: The approvals could fuel already-contentious debates around affordability and equity, giving ammunition both to those who say innovation doesn’t come cheap and others who contend medical advances are meaningless if patients can’t access them.

  • Although some of the drugs could be transformative, “they will create choices that need to be made and they will also create potential burdens, particularly on the most vulnerable, on people who are the least well-insured and people who live in states or happen to have insurance coverage that is the least generous,” said Rena Conti, a professor at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business.
  • None of the drugs would be subject to the price controls that congressional Democrats included in the Inflation Reduction Act.

Driving the news: The FDA is expected to today decide whether to approve Eisai and Biogen’s lecanemab, a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, setting into motion another round of debate over how much the drug should cost and whether Medicare should cover it.

  • It would become the second FDA-approved Alzheimer’s treatment targeting amyloid plaques that are believed to contribute to the development of the disease. But it isn’t likely to cause as much controversy as Biogen’s Aduhelm did when it was approved in 2021.
  • Biogen initially priced that drug at $56,000 a year, drawing outrage from critics and presenting big questions about how Medicare could absorb the large spending spike if millions of beneficiaries tried to get it.
  • If lecanemab is approved, experts will be closely watching both its list price and whether the FDA limits its use to subgroups of Alzheimer’s patients. Both factors will be crucial in determining potential spending on the drug.
  • A cost-effective price would be between $8,500 and $20,600 a year, the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review said last month.

State of play: The drug pipeline is brimming with other experimental cures that could make headlines this year.

  • Data for another promising Alzheimer’s treatment by Eli Lilly that is similar to lecanemab is expected midyear, per a recent Cowen research note, and Medicare will almost certainly have to revisit its coverage policy for the entire class of drugs.
  • Several multi-million dollar gene therapies have already been approved. But this year the pipeline includes two treatments for sickle cell disease, which has a much larger patient population.
  • Clinical trial results for Eli Lilly’s obesity drug candidate are also expected in April, potentially ushering a new entrant to what could become a booming market. Disputes over coverage of obesity drugs already on the market will almost certainty continue.

Between the lines: Some novel drugs present an inherent dilemma: They’re worth a lot of money because of the way they can dramatically improve patients’ lives. Even so, manufacturers can still price these drugs well above what experts say they’re worth.

  • Gene therapies may cost millions per patient. Other drugs could cost much less per course, but cater to enormous patient populations or may require long-term use.
  • In any scenario, the expense could present complex problems to federal and state health programs, private insurers and patients who wind up on the hook for out-of-pocket costs.
  • “We’re fortunate there are so many treatments in the pipeline that promise to transform the quality of care for people with devastating diseases. While we recognize there are concerns about cost, the facts point to a health care system that can sustain this incredible innovation over the long haul,” said Priscilla VanderVeer, vice president of public affairs at PhRMA.

Yes, but: The final cost burden hinges on several factors, starting with where manufacturers set the launch price.

CMS releases CY 2023 physician fee schedule

CMS has issued the final physician fee schedule for CY 2023, which updates vaccine payment information. The CY 2023 payment amount for influenza, pneumococcal, and HBV vaccine administration is $31.14. This amount will be geographically adjusted based upon the fee schedule area where the preventive vaccine is administered. With regard to COVID-19 vaccine administration, for CY 2023 the payment amount is $41.52. This differential will remain in place until the end of the calendar year in which the current Emergency Use Authorization declaration for drugs and biologicals with respect to COVID-19 ends. Thereafter, the payment amount for COVID-19 vaccine administration will be adjusted to align with the payment rate for the other Medicare Part B preventive vaccines. Learn more.

CVS and Walgreens agree to $10 billion opioid settlement

Two of the largest U.S. pharmacy chains, CVS Health and Walgreen Co., announced agreements in principle Wednesday to pay about $5 billion each to settle lawsuits nationwide over the toll of opioids, and a lawyer said Walmart is in discussions for a deal.

Together, the developments amount to what could be the last round of huge settlements after years of litigation over the drug industry’s role in an overdose crisis that has been linked to more than 500,000 deaths in the U.S. over the past two decades. Read more.

Novavax COVID-19 Booster Gets OK From FDA

The FDA has issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for a booster dose of the Novavax COVID-19 Vaccine, Adjuvanted (NVX-CoV2373) in adults aged 18 years and older.1 The booster dose should be administered at least 6 months following the completion of a primary vaccination series with an authorized or approved COVID-19 vaccine. It can be administered to patients who do not have access to an authorized bivalent COVID-19 booster, in whom a bivalent booster would not be clinically appropriate, or who chose to receive the Novavax booster because they would not otherwise receive a COVID-19 booster dose. Read more.

Drug-related deaths in senior citizens on the rise

Drug-related deaths are soaring among older Americans, driven by factors including unintentional misuse of prescription medications, self-medicating to treat pain, recreational drug use and social isolation.

In just a decade, the drug-related death rate doubled for those 65 years and older, climbing from 4.2 deaths per 100,000 in 2008-2010, to 8.4 deaths per 100,000 in 2018-2020, according to a report on senior health by United Health Foundation, which is part of UnitedHealth Group, earlier this year. The report drew on statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “It’s a really sad finding,” says Rhonda Randall, D.O., chief medical officer at UnitedHealthcare. “There’s a misperception that seniors may be exempt from this problem.” Read more.

How to Improve Pharmacy Patient Retention through Medicare Plan Consultations

Your patients are the lifeblood of your business. With an increased number of pharmacy alternatives popping up these days — including mail order pharmacies and online pharmacies — how can you ensure your patients stay your patients?

Did you know you can create a customer retention strategy through Medicare plan consultations that keeps your current customers engaged and happy? You can, and we’ll get to that shortly.

Before we understand how you can improve patient retention, however, let’s first look at what patient retention is and how you calculate your patient retention rate. Read More.

Independent Pharmacy News: January 2023 Will Bring Wave of New State Laws Targeting Drug Prices and PBMs

Courtesy of Apotex

With the adjournment of the California Assembly on August 31, only four state legislatures remain in session for 2022—Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New Jersey. (As of this writing, Missouri is in Special Session to deal with state tax issues; a state legislature calendar is available here.) The National Conference of State Legislatures bill tracking database shows that through August, 418 bills had been introduced, in 47 states, directly addressing prescription drug-related issues. Read more.

A Last Minute Approval Gives FDA User Fee Reauthorization

Courtesy of Apotex

At last! After nearly a year of committee hearings and political maneuvering, Congress finally has approved legislation to reauthorize FDA’s user fee programs for brand and generic drugs, biosimilars, and medical devices. The current programs expire with the close of fiscal year 2022 on September 30. Reauthorization will enable FDA to continue collecting application and facility user fees from industry for fiscal years 2023 through 2027, a 5-year period that begins October 1. Read more.

Judge Rejects Antitrust Challenge to UnitedHealth Acquisition

A federal judge ruled on September 19, 2022, against a Justice Department antitrust challenge to UnitedHealth‘s $13 billion acquisition of health-technology firm Change Healthcare, rejecting government claims that the deal would unlawfully suppress competition and limit innovation in health-insurance markets.

U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols ruled for the companies in an opinion that he kept under seal for now because he said it “may contain competitively sensitive information.” The judge said he would release a redacted public version of the ruling in the coming days. In a one-page public order, he denied the Justice Department’s request to block the companies from completing the deal. Read more

Considerations When Starting a New Pharmacy

Starting a new pharmacy can seem like a daunting task, and it certainly is one. However, the road to opening a pharmacy that runs successfully from day one means making the right decisions long before the doors are opened. This article is meant to help independent pharmacists navigate the process of establishing a new pharmacy more easily and successfully.

Create a Business Plan

There’s a well-known adage (often attributed to Benjamin Franklin, though there seems to be no evidence that he ever actually said it) that goes, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” When starting a new pharmacy, this is especially true. Therefore, the first thing to do is write out a business plan that includes the following items:

  • Executive Summary
  • Description of Business
  • Description of Services
  • Marketing Plan
  • Financial Plan

Read More.

FDA Finalizes Rule Allowing Pharmacy OTC Access to Hearing Aids

Millions of Americans will soon have access to lower cost hearing aids, thanks to a final rule from the FDA aiming to improve access to them. The rule creates a category of OTC hearing aids, which allows a patient, ages 18+, with mild to moderate hearing impairment to purchase a hearing aid from a pharmacy or online retailer without a medical exam, prescription, or adjustment by an audiologist. Read more.

Inflation Reduction Act Becomes Law: How Will It Affect Health Care?

Under the new law, the U.S. government is now able to negotiate prices on the costliest prescription drugs, cap costs at $2,000 per year for people on Medicare, limit the monthly cost of insulin to $35 for seniors, and extend subsidies for people buying their own health coverage through the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. The law also provides free vaccines for seniors. Read more.

Resurgence in COVID cases raises vaccine hesitancy concerns

It’s back.  Americans who thought they had successfully put COVID-19 in the rearview mirror are slowly coming to realize that the virus is not quite done with them.  As of mid-July the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported a 7-day moving average of 124,000 daily new cases – a 15.7 percent increase over the prior week.

The surge in new cases, driven primarily by the Omicron BA.5 variant, has fueled discussion about reimposing mask mandates, and the possibility of additional booster shots.  This, despite evidence the latest variant is more resistant to existing vaccines than previous strains. Read More.

What independent pharmacies can expect in the 2022 – 2023 flu season

Flu season is fast approaching. And it’s more important than ever for patients, particularly those who are at risk, to be vaccinated against influenza. Adults 65 and older, along with those with severe health problems, people of color and those of lower socio-economic status are at higher risk of developing severe complications from the illness. Getting vaccinated can help protect these vulnerable populations. Learn more about the selected strains, changes to vaccine recommendations and what to expect next.

Independent Pharmacies Under Attack: Protecting your patients’ personal information

Did you know that more than one-third of health care organizations in the United States were hit by ransomware attacks in 2020? Approximately 65% of these attacks were successful, and approximately one-third of the organizations that had data stolen paid up. However, only 69% of organizations that paid ransom actually got their data back. Here are some tips to help you protect your patients’ information. Read more

PBM ruling for North Dakota stands

With PCMA’s failure to file its appeal by the July 11, 2022 deadline, North Dakota can regulate PBMs as it sees fit. PCMA has exhausted its legal options. So, the ruling in PCMA vs. Wehbi is now the law of the land for the states in the 8th Circuit (Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota). Read more

FDA gives emergency authorization to Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine.

The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday authorized a Covid-19 vaccine developed by Novavax, a biotechnology company in Maryland that received significant federal funding to produce the shot. 

The vaccine will be a new option for Americans as vaccination rates stagnate. The vaccine is authorized as a primary immunization series for adults, rather than a booster. However, the shots can’t be administered until the CDC signs off on the recommendation later this month. Read more.

Florida Governor DeSantis signs PBM executive order

As expected, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed the PBM transparency order.  The order is aimed at lowering the price of prescription drugs. AAP Member Ben Levine was at the governor’s side during the signing. Levine calls this order a victory for all Floridians. “This transparency will really help drive down drug prices, and also improve access for patients in our community so that they can go to the pharmacy they choose.” Read more about the executive order.

AAP Member Ben Levine

What is Long-Term Care (LTC) Pharmacy in 2022

Thirty years ago, pharmacies were just realizing the opportunities available to them in the long-term care space.  At that time, long-term care pharmacy and pharmacists were servicing residents living in nursing homes (SNF) and that was the end of the story.  In 2022, the healthcare spectrum has changed.  Everyone is looking for a way to decrease healthcare costs and provide better care.  Adverse drug reactions account for many hospital admissions – according to a recent meta-analysis, one in ten hospital admissions are for elderly patients.1 This makes pharmacists—more specifically, long-term care pharmacists— part of the solution for both costs and care; especially as the definition of appropriate long-term patients and services continue to be defined. Long-term care pharmacies can be a closed-door pharmacy servicing only long-term care residents or a long-term care pharmacy can be in a “combo” pharmacy where both retail and long-term care pharmacy are being offered under a retail license.

As you know, long-term care pharmacies provide services above and beyond what is delivered at the counter of a typical retail pharmacy for a walk-in patient.  The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has specific requirements for pharmacies servicing Medicare Part D beneficiaries in long term care facilities2.  LTC pharmacies must have the capacity to provide specific drugs in units of use packaging, bingo cards, cassettes, unit dose or other special packaging commonly required by LTC facilities.  They must also have services available twenty-four hours, seven days a week for emergency calls. These are but a couple of the services needed to take care of patients in a long-term care setting. Many pharmacies have added other services such as medication reconciliation, medication management, medication regimen reviews (MRRs), etc., in addition to the ones specified by CMS. Read More.

FDA allows pharmacists to prescribe Paxlovid for COVID-19 treatment

01 March 2022, Berlin: The drug Paxlovid against Covid-19 from the manufacturer Pfizer is lying on a table. Photo: Fabian Sommer/dpa (Photo by Fabian Sommer/picture alliance via Getty Images)

It’s a win for pharmacies, which had been pushing for the FDA to allow them to prescribe the medication, saying that it would ultimately expand access to the antivirals. 

Paxlovid is authorized for the treatment of “mild-to-moderate” COVID-19 in adults and pediatric patients that have tested positive and are considered to be at high risk of developing severe disease.

Read more about the authorization.

In the news: PBM legislation inside a new gun bill

Many Americans across the political spectrum are clamoring for federal action on guns in the wake of a mass shooting at an Uvalde, Texas, elementary schoola Buffalo, N.Y., grocery store and hundreds of other places.

But buried in a bipartisan compromise hashed out by the U.S. Senate on Tuesday is an unrelated provision they might not be so happy about.

The gun bill would enhance the exemption drug middlemen working with Medicare have from the federal “Anti-Kickback Statute.” Read more.

Recognizing pharmacy techs as ‘heroes,’ Walmart vows to raise pay and hire more workers 

Walmart recently announced its plan to raise wages for its more than 36,000 pharmacy technicians working in Walmart and Sam’s Club stores. Additionally, the retail giant plans to hire an additional 5,000 workers in these positions this year. Are you ready to compete for staffing with Walmart? Read the full article from Drug Topics here.

Cardinal Health issues new alert on fraudulent activity

Cardinal Health issued a new alert regarding recently reported fraudulent activity. There are reports of individuals falsely claiming to be representatives from pharmaceutical wholesalers and courier service employees. This is an industry-wide issue, as criminals attempt to place orders and intercept delivery of the product. Be on the lookout, and read the full alert here.

Independent pharmacy tips for improving patient engagement and education

More than 90 percent of people in the United States live within five miles of a community pharmacy. Additionally, patients visit the pharmacy twice as often as they visit their primary healthcare provider. So, your pharmacy can make a significant impact on the lives of your community members, but you must get them through the door first.

One way is standing out from your competition by personalizing your services. From simple handwritten, thank you notes for a new patient to loyalty programs or just recognizing a birthday, the possible ways to connect with patients are endless. To learn more ideas about how to increase your pharmacy customer base, watch the AAP Preferred Partner webinar from TDS here.

Digital medication information reduces your printing costs

Have you ever thought about what it would take for your pharmacy to go green? If you could give your patients their medication information digitally, it would save you thousands of dollars every year in paper and toner costs. Our Preferred Partner, Vuca Health, has an innovative solution called MedsOnCue. Their platform has a library of informational videos about hundreds of medications, in both English and Spanish. 

The system can integrate into your pharmacy’s system and deliver the medication information video straight to your patient’s computer, smartphone or tablet. To learn more about MedsOnCue, watch our AAP Preferred Partner webinar from Vuca Health here.

Tips for making your pharmacy more successful

We know that every pharmacy faces different challenges. That is why we partner with a variety of vendors to give you choices that address YOUR business needs. Our Preferred Partner, Rx30, can make your pharmacy faster and more efficient by optimizing your workflow and customizing it around you.

Check out the AAP Preferred Partner webinar about the types of tools they can provide your business. From integrated pharmacy point-of-sale to insurance claim reconciliation or pharmacy inventory management, Rx30 has a solution for you.

How independent pharmacies should bill for medical services

Independent pharmacies are the cornerstone of every community. And the role your pharmacy plays in your community is constantly evolving. You are not just filling scripts. You are doing healthcare counseling and testing. In many underserved areas, you are becoming the primary care provider for many patients. 

But the question is – how do you bill for all of these services you are offering? In this Preferred Partner webinar, EnLivenHealth explains some of the programs they offer to help you navigate the medical billing system. Watch the webinar here.

Optimize Medication Returns in the Pharmacy

Expiring drug products are a problem in every pharmacy. But out-of-date pharmaceuticals don’t have to be an unmanageable business expense. The right business partner can turn expired medications into cash.

Medication returns vendors, more formally known as reverse distribution or reverse logistics providers, manage between 3.5% and 4% of all pharmaceutical sales, according to a 2018 estimate from the Healthcare Distribution Alliance (HDA) Research Foundation. That’s more than 120 million units annually, worth more than $13 billion, based on 2016 pharmaceutical product sales of $450 billion.

“Return Solutions comes to the pharmacy quarterly and goes through our entire stock to pull everything that is expired or set to expire in the next few months,” said Lisa Stahlman, RPh, pharmacy manager at the WellSpan Pharmacy in Dallastown, Pennsylvania. “A few weeks later, we get a check. I’m sure there are plenty of pharmacies that don’t use a returns company, but it’s so much more time-efficient and cost-efficient than trying to keep up with return policies and requirements for every manufacturer on your own.” Read More.