MPhA News

Small Doses

May 19, 2017
Breaking News
News From MPhA
Minnesota News
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National News
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Breaking News

2017 Legislative Session in its Final Week…PATF Provisions Included in HHS Bill

PATF Lobbyist Buck Humphrey reports that the Minnesota legislature is working feverishly to come to a compromise on State budget targets. This includes the Minnesota House and Senate HHS Conference Committee Omnibus bill the legislature will pass on each floor at the end of budget negotiations and send to Gov. Dayton for signature and ultimately, enactment. A week ago, both the Republican-controlled House and Senate passed SF800, the HHS Omnibus finance bill. As with all state government finance funding bills passed by the legislature to date, the HHS Republican budget bill was vetoed by Gov. Dayton.

Technically, this means the legislature has to start over on the various finance bills. However, multiple bills are still on the House and Senate floors that could/will be used as vehicles to pass the omnibus finance bills once the legislative leadership reaches agreement with the governor. A worst-case scenario would be no agreement between the legislature and governor by the constitutionally mandated legislative adjournment date of midnight on Monday, May 22. If they can’t get an agreement, the governor would then need to call a Special Session of the legislature, presumably sometime in June, to avert a July 1 government shutdown.

The legislature and Dayton administration will work through the weekend to hopefully come to a compromise on how to fund the government and move to adjournment. Stay tuned…

Humphrey reports that the HHS Omnibus bill includes the opioid bottle warning label mandate language. Simultaneously, the opioid labeling legislation is also being taken up on the floor of the House and Senate to ensure passage. The governor has said he will sign the bill if it reaches his desk. The Senate passed the revised language that is acceptable to the Minnesota pharmacy community. The House is set to take up the Senate’s bill at any time, most likely Friday or over the weekend.

Other provisions of note include the CMS pharmacists reimbursement compliance (increase) language, language for the reimbursement of injectables through a PBM, opioid abuse reduction grants and the 4-day maximum opiate prescription mandate in the vetoed bill. Neither legislative nor administration leaders have indicated that these provisions will not survive final negotiations. Additionally, it is confirmed that the Senate will take up Biosimilars language included in SF1184 and HF712 Friday or this weekend, already adopted by the House. When this legislative language is enacted, it will put Minnesota in compliance with similar laws across the U.S.

Last, the House HHS Finance Committee had an informational hearing on May 24 on HF747. The bill would make changes to the Prior Authorization (PA) system that would ban Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) from taking drugs off a plan sponsored/contracted formulary before the benefit contract expires. Currently, PBMs can and do take drugs off their formularies, mid-contract, at any time. Rep. Rod Hamilton (R-Mountain Lake), who has had a long history of issues with PBMs and obtaining and maintaining his MS medication regimen, introduced the legislation and passionately testified in support of the PA and PBM reforms. The Minnesota Medical Association, Mental Health Association of Minnesota, Independent Physicians Association and Academy of Family Physicians all testified in support of the PA reform legislation. Representatives from the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, Express Scripts, Health Partners and Prime Therapeutics all testified in opposition to the bill. This issue is certain to be taken up next year.

News From MPhA

Nominate a Friend or Colleague Today for MPhA Awards and Recognition

The Minnesota Pharmacists Association frequently hears of pharmacy professionals who go above and beyond the call of duty. Help us recognize these pharmacy leaders and inspirations by nominating a pharmacist or pharmacy technician for one of our awards. Nominations are now open.

Read the full award descriptions.
See a list of past recipients.

Nomination form(s) and letters of support must be submitted to the MPhA office by Friday, June 16.

Minnesota News

Fittest U.S. City? Either Minneapolis/St. Paul or Duluth

According to the American College of Sport Medicine (ACSM) and the Anthem Foundation, the Minneapolis-St. Paul area is number one on a list of America’s 50 “fittest cities.” Meanwhile, the Duluth News Tribune reports that the makers of the Fitbit fitness monitor designated Duluth, Minn., as the fittest city in the U.S. Fitbit ranked data such as daily steps, active minutes, resting heart rate and sleep duration from more than 10 million users of the device in 2016.

ACSM’s report examined a variety of health indicators, including rates of asthma, diabetes and heart disease, obesity, smoking, availability of farmers markets and investments in public parks. Also in the top five: Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Seattle and San Jose, Calif.

In the Fitbit data, Duluth topped Appleton and Eau Claire, Wis., which ranked second and third fittest, respectively, while Rochester ranked eighth and Minneapolis 20th. Madison, which was No. 1 in 2016, dropped to sixth place this year.

7,000 Minnesotans Exposed to Measles Virus

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has identified 7,000 people exposed to the measles virus at child care centers, schools and health care settings, the Star Tribune has reported. An MDH incident command team is overseeing a coordinated effort to stop the spread of measles. The current outbreak is the worst in Minnesota since 1990, with at least 60 confirmed cases.

Use Your Member Benefits

Ransomware Cyber-attacks Show Need for Pharmacies to Protect Data

From Pharmacists Mutual’s Risk Management Newsletter: The recent cyber-attacks that hit businesses in more than 150 nations around the globe represent just one example of the need for pharmacies to educate ourselves in the targeted areas that interest cyber criminals, and to learn how to protect our pharmacies from being attacked. The health care industry is among the most vulnerable to data breaches. Read the full article

Pharmacists Mutual Insurance Company offers Risk Management Newsletter as a service to its customers.

National News

Pharmacies Join Lawsuit Against Benefits Manager

Nearly 500 independent pharmacies nationwide are suing Catamaran, an Illinois-based PBM, alleging that it illegally inflated the costs of prescription medications. OptumRx, based in Minnesota, recently acquired Catamaran. The suit, filed on May 1 with the American Arbitration Association by attorney Mark Cuker of Williams Cuker Berezofsky in Philadelphia, also claims that Catamaran failed to adjust the reimbursement rates for pharmacies in a timely fashion, and did not disclose pricing information and/or the method and rate at which drug rebates are applied to them.

Cuker says the pharmacies are seeking unspecified damages. They want Catamaran to change its price-setting system to one that is fairer to pharmacies. Cuker will host a phone call on Tuesday, May 23, from 10 to 11 AM CDT to explain this mass action lawsuit and look for more participation. The phone number is (800) 582-3014. The access code is 67960162#.

Pharmacy Organizations Meet with HHS Secretary

From National Community Pharmacists Association Advocacy Center Update: NCPA and the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) were among the pharmacy organizations and pharmacists who met with Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Dr. Tom Price recently.

Earlier this year NCPA requested a meeting with the Secretary to talk about the role of PBMs in rising prescription drug spending and how community pharmacists can help lower those costs and improve health outcomes. NCPA was able to talk directly to the Secretary and CMS Administrator Seema Verma and share with them some suggestions for solutions that would benefit consumers, taxpayers, and the pharmacy small business owners who serve them. NCPA will continue to make the case to HHS, CMS, Congress and elsewhere on behalf of community pharmacies and the patients they serve.

NCPA, ASHP Urge Senate to Protect Prescription Drug Benefit Provisions of ACA

From National Community Pharmacists Association Advocacy Center Update: NCPA sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and 12 other members of a working group of Republican senators developing legislation in response to House passage of H.R. 1628, the American Health Care Act. On May 15, the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists also urged senators to consider legislative proposals that will safeguard public health through the provision of robust coverage — including access to health care services, affordable medications and pharmacist patient care services. NCPA recommended the following:

  • Support patient access to medication and ensure reasonable pharmacy reimbursement that includes both a community pharmacy's medication acquisition and dispensing costs in any Medicaid reforms (Section 2503)
  • Expand patient access to community pharmacists to help manage chronic conditions (Section 10328)
  • Assure greater oversight of and transparency from PBMs in federal health care programs (Section 6005)
  • Maintain regulatory relief for small business community pharmacies (Section 3109)

In addition to Sen. McConnell (R-Ky.), members of the working group are Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), John Thune (R-S.D.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.). NCPA will continue to engage lawmakers to champion priorities for community pharmacies during this process.

Read more about ASHP’s statement

MPhA Events

Help Set the Direction for Your Association at MPhA’s 2017 Leadership Summit and House of Delegates Event

Join Minnesota pharmacists, student pharmacists and pharmacy technicians for a day of inspiration, information, influence building and crafting MPhA’s policy agenda at the 2017 MPhA Leadership Summit and House of Delegates meeting on Tuesday, June 20, at Midland Hills Country Club in Roseville, Minn. The program, themed, “Building Influence to Advance Patient Care & Practice,” is open to all members and non-members, in addition to those who will serve as delegates to the MPhA House of Delegates meeting. Non-delegates are welcome to stay and observe the policy deliberations that will lay the groundwork for MPhA’s policy agenda for the next year. MPhA seeks delegates — you will be asked if you are willing to serve and for which constituency during the registration process. MPhA will strive to assign delegates to their desired constituency but retains the right to assign delegates as needed to ensure all groups are represented. Nearly 50 people have registered more than a month ahead of the event — this is always one of our most popular programs!

Registration Information

The registration fee for the event is $45 for MPhA members, $60 for MPhA non-members and $20 for student pharmacists and includes breakfast, lunch and reception appetizers.

Register Online

Register for Next Week’s MPhA Primer Webinar for 2017 House of Delegates

Join MPhA Speaker of the House Kati Dvorak, Vice Speaker Tony Olson, Parliamentarian Terry Hietpas and the MPhA leadership for an Open Forum Webinar on Wednesday, May 24 between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Central Time during MPhA’s Virtual Coffee Break. We welcome both MPhA members and non-members for this webinar.

Register Online

Save the Date!

2017 MPhA Annual Learning Networking Event

September 7–8, 2017 | St. Paul RiverCentre

Did You Know?

DEA Brings in Record Amount of Unused Prescription Drugs on National Take Back Day

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and more than 4,200 of its law enforcement and community partners collected more unused prescription drugs than at any of the 12 previous National Prescription Drug Take Back Day events.

On Saturday, April 29, the event brought in 900,386 pounds (450 tons) at close to 5,500 sites across the nation. Marking the 13th National Prescription Take Back Day since September 2010, these events have altogether collected 8,103,363 pounds (4,052 tons) of prescription drugs.

The National Prescription Drug Take Back Day Initiative addresses a crucial public safety and public health issue. According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 6.4 million Americans abused controlled prescription drugs. The study shows that a majority of abused prescription drugs were obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet. The DEA’s Take Back Day events provide an opportunity for Americans to prevent drug addiction and overdose deaths.

DEA’s next National Prescription Take Back Day is Saturday, October 28.

May Is Hepatitis Awareness Month

Not only is this Hepatitis Awareness month, but today (May 19) is the sixth annual national Hepatitis Testing Day! The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) shares information to help your efforts during May and beyond. Here are the top three tips:

  1. The Hepatitis Awareness Month and Testing Day Resource Center has free tools to help support your awareness activities and testing events. Resources include buttons, badges, and a quiz widget for your website or email signatures; Live-Read Radio Scripts templates to pitch your events to local radio stations; and sample proclamations for Hepatitis Awareness Month and/or national Hepatitis Testing Day.
  2. If your organization provides ongoing hepatitis testing and vaccination services, visit and fill out an online form to make sure your services are registered within that database. This site is a tool for people to enter their zip code and find ongoing services in their area.
  3. The Know More Hepatitis campaign, which encourages people born 1945-1965 to get tested for hepatitis C, and the multilingual Know Hepatitis B campaign, promoting hepatitis B testing among Asian Americans, have free resources available for use. Campaign resources include video PSAs and posters, radio PSAs, infographics, fact sheets, customizable event flyers, and other materials.