In brief: Philips buys pharmacy sleep services provider, Roche sues over alleged rebate scheme

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Friday, March 31, 2017

AMSTERDAM, the Netherlands, and SYDNEY – Royal Philips has signed an agreement to buy Australian Pharmacy Sleep Services, in a move that the company says will accelerate its home sleep testing offering through the pharmacy channel in Australia.

“With the addition of APSS to our sleep and respiratory care business in Australia, Philips will be able to provide better access to home sleep testing for those who need it, where and when they need it,” said Kevin Barrow, managing director at Philips Australia and New Zealand.

APSS, founded in 2011, offers a sleep apnea program for pharmacies that includes screening, home-based sleep studies based on CPAP therapy, training and services.

The retail pharmacy market provides a convenient and central local access point to offer simple and effective sleep screening, Philips says.

“This screening is aimed at assessing sleep quality and determining if subsequent sleep treatment may be required,” it stated in a press release. “APSS works closely with medical professionals for assessment and diagnosis of sleep problems, and subsequent sleep treatment.”

Philips expects to complete the transaction in the second quarter of 2017. It will not disclose financial details.

Roche sues pharmacies, supply companies

INDIANAPOLIS – Roche Diagnostics and Roche Diabetes Care have filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Indianapolis, claiming they have wrongfully paid millions of dollars in rebates and lost millions of dollars in legitimate sales for blood glucose test strips at the hands of an alleged scheme by six pharmacies and medical supply companies. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court of Indianapolis, charges the pharmacies and medical supply companies with allegedly obtaining test strips from Roche that were intended for reimbursement under DME plans but were sold for retail under pharmacy plans, according to the Indianapolis Business Journal. Test strips under pharmacy plans have a higher list price than strips under DME plans, but pharmacy plans receive larger rebates. “By purchasing strips from Roche at the lower DME list price and diverting them to sale in channels where they would be reimbursed at the much higher pharmacy plan rate, defendants and their co-conspirators made millions of dollars in illicit profits,” the lawsuit charges. Several defendants, including Binson’s Hospital Supplies of Centerline, Mich., and J&B Medical Supply of Wixom, Mich., had allegedly promised to sell the DME test strips only through DME channels, according to the lawsuit. Through a spokesman, J&B Medical said it stopped purchasing test strips from Roche in 2009. "This coincided with the FDA issues with the strips and numerous insurance companies asking J&B to stop purchasing from Roche," he said in an email. "Bottom line, J&B did not purchase from Roche during the timeframe detailed in the lawsuit." J&B said it its 100% confident it will be exonerated and removed from the lawsuit, the spokesman said. The other defendants named in the lawsuit were Northwood of Centerline; Olympus Global of East Lansing, Mich.; Delta Global of Flint, Mich.; and Alpha XE of Cheyenne, Wyo.

CMS says CGMs cannot be used with other technology

WASHINGTON – Medicare beneficiaries using Dexcom’s G5 Mobile continuous glucose monitoring system cannot use smartphone apps or tablets to display glucose data if they want to have the CGM device reimbursed, according to recently released guidance from CMS. If a beneficiary uses a non-DME device (smart phone, tablet, etc.) as the display device, either separately or in combination with the CGM receiver classified as DME, the supply allowance is non-covered. CMS in January said it would classify certain CGMs as DME. Currently, only the Dexcom G5 meets criteria.

AAHomecare pulls together resources

WASHINGTON – AAHomecare hascollected resources and talking points for providers and state associations to use in discussions with payers. Providers can link to information on the CURES letter, pricing comparison by region, HME suppliers/locations by state and an HME cost study by Dobson DaVanzo to show the impact of drastic reimbursement reductions. Laura Williard, senior director of payer relations for AAHomecare,is working with several state/regional associations to support their meetings with payers. Links to the information can be found here.

Supreme Court sides with SCA

STOCKHOLM – SCA says it has won an important victory in its seven-year patent infringement case against First Quality Products. A six-year statutory period of limitations, during which a patent infringement claim must be commenced, cannot be shortened based on the equitable doctrine known as laches, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 7-1 decision on March 21. The decision allows SCA to proceed with its claim for pre-suit damages, the company announced in a press release. “We are thrilled the Supreme Court ruled in our favor,” said Michael Freenan, vice president of sales and marketing for SCA Incontinence Care North America. “SCA can now pursue all of the damages to which it is entitled.” In 2010, SCA sued First Quality in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky for infringement of a patent covering adult incontinence products. A lower court dismissed SCA’s claim for pre-suit damages in response to a petition by First Quality. Now that the Supreme Court has reversed that decision, the case returns to Kentucky for trial on both pre- and post-suit damages.

Medicare keeps coverage for wheelchair trays

WASHINGTON – Medicare made a clerical error when it said it considered wheelchair trays, tables or similar products convenience items. The agency said claims for E0950 would be denied as statutorily non-covered, no benefit, according to an LCD and policy article revision posted by the DME MACs on March 16. The article was corrected on March 30. The change was set to take effect retroactively on Jan. 1, 2017. Concerns with the change included the medical necessity of these items and the timing. “They made they change retroactively without any comment period,” stated the Midwest Association of Medical Equipment Services in a bulletin to members. Stakeholders planned to bring up the change at upcoming meetings with the DME MACs in April.

Apria offers payment options

LAKE FOREST, Calif. – Apria Healthcare has partnered with CarePayment, a patient financial engagement company, to provide financing to patients. The 0% APR payment program allows individual to pay over time for their medical supplies and care, according to a press release. “Americans are increasingly burdened by the rising out-of-pocket costs in our healthcare system,” said Dan Starck, CEO for Apria. “Unfortunately, extended illnesses often leave them struggling to make ends meet. We are so pleased to be able to offer our customers a solution that can help reduce the financial anxieties of managing medical conditions at home.”

Respiratory Services opens fourth location

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Respiratory Services of Western New York has a new retail store at 535 Summit Point Drive in Henrietta, N.Y. The provider held a ribbon cutting ceremony at the store on March 23, with members of the community, local hospital representatives and employees in attendance. “There was a big need in the Rochester area for a company such as us to facilitate referrals from hospitals in a fast manner and provide the level of service that has differentiated us in the marketplace,” said Patti Capitani, vice president of sales, in a press release. During the ribbon cutting, Respiratory Services offered tours of its showroom, which features compression stockings, bath safety equipment, ambulatory devices, aides to daily living, sleep apnea equipment, oxygen equipment, diabetic shoes, lift chairs, scooters and more. Established in 1997, Respiratory Services also has locations in Cheektowaga, Dunkirk and Arcade.

Sigvaris completes expansion

PEACHTREE CITY, Ga. – Sigvaris celebrates the grand opening of its expanded corporate headquarters today. As part of the festivities, the manufacturer is offering plant tours, and the opportunity to meet with corporate executives and members of the founding family from Switzerland. The 40,000-square-corporate headquarters now houses office, manufacturing and warehouse space, all under one roof. The grand opening at the corporate headquarters follows a ribbon cutting at a second new manufacturing facility in Holland, Mich., on March 28. Sigvaris focuses on the development, production and distribution of medical compression garments, including hosiery, socks and inelastic compression garments.

Convaid revamps website

TORRANCE, Calif. – Convaid has launched a new website to provide a more user-friendly experience and optimized functionality. The website makes it easy to explore the company’s line of pediatric wheelchairs, with how-to videos, customer insights, industry resources, an educational portal and an interactive community section. It also helps users “geo-locate” dealers anywhere in the world. The website is compatible with all browsers and mobile devices.

Conference updates: AAH, Medtrade, CRT

AAHomecare has shortened and slashed the price of its Washington Legislative Conference this year. The conference will take place at the Washington Court Hotel on May 24 and 25, but events will conclude at 2 p.m. on May 24, giving attendees more time to conduct meetings on Capitol Hill. “Whether you’re an experienced, regular attendee of the conference or this is your first time attending, your direct, in-person engagement with legislators and their staff members is the most effective means to advocate for better public policy for HME,” the association stated in a press release. AAHomecare is offering a rate of $49 for members and $99 for non-members this year, half the cost of last year’s conference. To increase the buzz around the conference, the association is encouraging stakeholders to share why they feel attending is so important on social media using #AAHWLC17. Register here…Show organizers have locked in Oct. 23-26 as the dates for this year’s Medtrade in Atlanta. “We believe Medtrade 2017 can be a huge focal point as the industry rebounds from very difficult times,” said Kevin Gaffney, group show director, Medtrade, in a press release. Organizers have also set Feb. 26-28, 2018, as the dates for the next Medtrade Spring in Las Vegas…Among the sessions at the upcoming National CRT Leadership and Advocacy Conference will be a panel presentation providing an overview of the healthcare issues, options and politics in Washington, D.C. Participating in the panel will be Eric Gascho, vice president of government affairs at the National Health Council; and Amy Cunniffe, principal, and Sarah Egge, senior manager, of the Washington Council at Ernst & Young. NCART says the session will be a “great primer” for the congressional visits on April 27 that will follow educational sessions on April 26. The conference takes place at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in Arlington, Va.

Short takes: Medforce, Circadiance, AOPA, FODAC

Medforce Technologieshas joined the National Association for Home Care and Hospice. “We have experienced solid growth in the home health sector over the past several years,” said Esther Apter, Medforce CEO. “Joining NAHC was a logical choice to help us stay in tune with the latest challenges and continue to learn how to best serve this industry”…Circadiance has launched the SleepWeaver 3D Soft Cloth CPAP Mask in the U.S., following its recent 510(k) clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The cloth mask provides an interface for CPAP or BIPAP therapy and is intended for single patient re-use…The American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association (AOPA) has announced that the American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics & Pedorthics (ABC) will sponsor the Presidential Papers at the 2017 AOPA World Congress. The Presidential Papers represent the top 10 clinical education submissions of original research backed by a full manuscript and will be published in a special supplement of the Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation. ABC will also be an official partner of the Congress, Sept. 6-9 in Las Vegas…Friends of Disabled Adults and Children (FODAC) will hold its 17th Annual Run Walk n’ Roll at Stone Mountain Park in Stone Mountain, Ga., on May 6. The 5-mile race and 2-mile walk is one of FODAC’s main fundraisers. Participants can run, walk or roll through the course—wheelchairs, strollers and walkers are all welcome.