Omnicare: New rules are not likely to harm the business

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Omnicare: New rules are not likely to harm the business
Omnicare: New rules are not likely to harm the business
The nation's largest institutional pharmacy vendor does not expect proposed drug handling rules to adversely affect its business, even though they likely will increase drug-delivery costs.

But Omnicare Inc. added it's still reviewing a potential change requiring independence of consultant pharmacists.

Omnicare noted that the company looks forward to providing the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services with information concerning the role of its consultant pharmacists — and the benefits they deliver to the market.

“Omnicare's payers and customers and their residents currently benefit from the consultant pharmacists' expertise in the areas of geriatric drug therapy and long-term care pharmacy regulations,” the firm noted in a statement.

The company also said payers and residents may be denied benefits or forced to pay more for them if CMS were to mandate the change.

The firm noted that it charges market rates for its consultant pharmacist services. In addition, Omnicare's consultant pharmacists do not prescribe pharmaceuticals but may recommend a drug if it is clinically equivalent and at a lower cost to the payer. Or they may recommend another therapy option in accordance with published CMS guidance.

As an example, the company noted that in the past half decade, its consultant pharmacists have made more than 700,000 recommendations to prescribers regarding antipsychotic use, 99.7% of which were to reduce a dose; discontinue the drug; question the reason the drugs were used; or monitor for potential, known side effects.

According to the proposed rule, relationships between nursing homes and pharmacy suppliers could “conflict with the best interests of nursing home residents.” Therefore, the proposal to mandate independent pharmacists was made.

The regulation also could have implications for Omnicare's hostile takeover bid for rival PharMerica, according to observers.