Archive for October, 2010

Veteran Pharmacist Advises Students on Independent Pharmacy Ownership

Before speaking to a few hundred of tomorrow’s pharmacists about the pros and cons of independent pharmacy ownership, Bill Altland took advantage of the motorcycle ride from Alaska to Philadelphia to gather his thoughts. Continue reading ‘Veteran Pharmacist Advises Students on Independent Pharmacy Ownership’

How Pharmacists Can Help Patients “Safeguard My Meds”

NCPA Executive Committee member and Gloucester Pharmacy owner Keith Hodges recently joined actress and parent advocate Catherine Hicks (of the TV show “7th Heaven”) to launch the Safeguard My Meds patient education and safety campaign. On a whirlwind satellite media tour, they spoke to 30+ national and regional TV, radio, and newspaper outlets to raise awareness for the new program. Click here to watch one of those interviews. Continue reading ‘How Pharmacists Can Help Patients “Safeguard My Meds”’

Community Pharmacists Voice Concerns to Medicare over Walmart Drug Plan

The National Community Pharmacists Association registered its concerns with Medicare over the Humana Walmart Preferred-Rx Plan in a letter sent to the agency today. Continue reading ‘Community Pharmacists Voice Concerns to Medicare over Walmart Drug Plan’

CVS Caremark’s Latest Legal Headaches? A Record $77.6 Million Settlement with DEA in Meth Case and a Scolding, Fine by a California Court

The already extensive list of government entities scrutinizing CVS Caremark’s behavior just got longer. DEA joins the alphabet soup with a record $77.6 million settlement, which includes a $75 million fine (the largest ever under the Controlled Substances Act) and the forfeiture of $2.6 million in profits from illegal sales. Could the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) be next? Meanwhile, a California court upheld a $42,000 fine against Caremark for acting in “bad faith” in a whistleblower lawsuit.

Continue reading ‘CVS Caremark’s Latest Legal Headaches? A Record $77.6 Million Settlement with DEA in Meth Case and a Scolding, Fine by a California Court’

Community Pharmacists Getting Closure in Fox Insurance-ProCare PBM Saga Over Medicare Part D Claims

By Kevin Schweers

When well-intentioned good-government groups decry “lobbyists” and “special interests,” one thing they probably don’t have in mind is the long-running saga of community pharmacists waiting many months for reimbursement while Fox Insurance Company and pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) ProCare sparred over who should pay for indisputably legitimate Medicare Part D claims.

Continue reading ‘Community Pharmacists Getting Closure in Fox Insurance-ProCare PBM Saga Over Medicare Part D Claims’

CVS Caremark’s Analyst Day Comes Amid Mounting Problems for the Company

While the company prepares to dispense “happy talk” at its “Analyst Day” October 8th, the numerous government inquiries into CVS Caremark’s business practices seem to offer a less-than-rosy glimpse of the company’s outlook:

  • The Federal Trade Commission is actively investigating CVS’ merger with pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) Caremark. The FTC has not yet reached a resolution, but has  testified about the investigation and cited that it involves both competition and consumer protection issues. (You can read NCPA’s case for the investigation here.)
  • The Senate Aging Committee recently began asking CVS Caremark questions regarding possible patient steering and cost concerns for Medicare Part D beneficiaries. This could be followed by other investigations, perhaps by Medicare or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General.
  • The Senate Judiciary Committee’s Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights Subcommittee recently requested a briefing from CVS Caremark and has asked for a similar briefing from the FTC.
  • A national and state class action suit was launched in October against CVS Caremark, charging among other things that CVS Caremark was committing RICO violations as a result of the improper exchange and misuse of personal information and widespread violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). This suit poses significant potential liability for CVS Caremark and could compel the restructuring of their use of information.
  • Private patient information entrusted to CVS Caremark was found blowing in the streets of Manhattan this summer, The New York Daily News reported. The incident comes barely one year the company agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it failed to take “reasonable and appropriate security measures” to protect the sensitive financial and medical information of customers and employees, a violation of federal law.  In a companion agreement with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, CVS Caremark paid $2.25 million to settle alleged HIPAA violations.
  • Meanwhile, 24 state attorneys general are conducting ongoing investigations of allegations of deceptive and anticompetitive conduct by CVS Caremark.

CVS Caremark is facing potential enforcement action from the FTC and state regulators, enormous pressure from Congress, and huge litigation costs. The federal antitrust agencies have trained their enforcement guns at major corporations that engage in exclusionary tactics and handcuff their rivals.  In the last three months, the FTC settled the Intel case and earlier this week the Department of Justice brought a major enforcement action against American Express and settled cases with VISA and MasterCard, changing how consumers will be able to shop in the future.

Perhaps CVS Caremark is the next shoe to drop?

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