Magazine article Drug Topics

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Magazine article Drug Topics

One Down

Article excerpt

The first of five Congressional committees tackling health-care reform has finished a bill that has some but not all of what community retail pharmacy groups have endorsed in President Clinton's Health Security Act. The biggest omission, in the view of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores and NARD, is what they call the equal access to discounts provision.

The Senate Labor & Human Resources Committee, voting generally along party lines, endorsed a Clinton-like plan. The margin was 11-6, with Sen. Jim Jeffords of Vermont the only Republican voting to send the bill to the Senate floor. Debate will not begin until the Senate Finance Committee acts on its version of health-care reform.

The Labor Committee legislation did not include the Health Security Act's language that would require drug manufacturers to offer purchasers of drugs "on substantially the same terms [including such terms as prompt payment, cash payment, volume purchases, single-site delivery, the use of formularies by purchasers, and any other terms effectively reducing the manufacturer's costs] as any other purchaser [including any institutional purchaser] the same price." The brand-name industry has fought the proposal, labeling it anticompetitive and a one-price policy that would eliminate discounts.

Although similar language was considered in early drafts by chairman Edward M. Kennedy (D, Mass.) and an amendment was readied for inclusion in the final version, it was never offered, Robert Betz, executive director of the Health Industry Group Purchasing Association, told Drug Topics. …

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