Magazine article Drug Topics

Berlex, PCS Launch Novel Distribution Plan for MS Drug

Magazine article Drug Topics

Berlex, PCS Launch Novel Distribution Plan for MS Drug

Article excerpt

Betaseron, Berlex Laboratories Inc.'s new drug for the treatment of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, is being distributed in an unprecedented manner. Pharmacists enrolled in a special network will be given the opportunity to dispense the drug--though none will have to purchase it.

The unusual system was developed by PCS Health Systems Inc., which was hired by Berlex to handle direct dispersion of the precious commodity. "Basically, the drug is going to be supplied directly to the patient from the manufacturer," Blair Jackson, PCS' v.p.-corporate communications, told Drug Topics. "The pharmacy and PCS are just going to sort of help in that process, but not take a profit off the price of the drug."

Essentially, the program works like this: Patients getting Betaseron will have a special "Betaseron card" that they present to the pharmacist, regardless of whether or not they are also PCS cardholders or members of another third-party prescription drug program, Jackson explained. The R.Ph. will punch the order into the computer, transmitting it to PCS through the PCS RECAP system. PCS, in turn, will contact Berlex, which then ships a month's supply, or 15 vials, back to the pharmacy. The patient should be able to pick the drug up two days after he or she came into the pharmacy.

Pharmacists will not purchase or stock Betaseron, Jackson said. However, they will be paid $7 for their professional services each time they dispense it to a patient. "Berlex has worked very hard to keep the price of this drug as low as possible," he added. "That's really been an overriding objective. So, they've set up this system with us to accomplish that by cutting out the middlemen who add the markups onto it."

Another goal was to get pharmacists involved "in a more professional capacity," allowing them to serve strictly as counselors to the MS patient, Jackson continued. "They don't have to inventory anything," he added. "It's a simple transaction process. The payment is handled through our system with the pharmacist."

To participate, pharmacies need to be part of the PCS RECAP system, which 95% of all pharmacies are," Jackson said. Pharmacists must also have the space to refrigerate the drug, since it is shipped on ice via an overnight service. "There's been a solicitation of pharmacies to participate in this," he said. "There's been a real good response."

Also, patients who will be getting the drug will have the opportunity to request that their favorite pharmacy dispense the drug to them. …

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