In brief: Unlicensed providers win; neb meds up, down

Sunday, June 22, 2008

MIAMI - Industry stakeholders have raised concerns that some Round 1 contract winners in the Miami competitive bidding area won't be able to provide oxygen to Medicare beneficiaries come July 1. Out of 44 contracts awarded in the CBA, nine went to companies that lacked the necessary license required by the state to provide medical oxygen to patients. Florida's Department of Health told Rob Brant, president of the Accredited Medical Equipment Providers Association, that it takes a minimum of six months to get a license.

Neb meds up, down
WASHINGTON - Medicare suspended a planned payment cut for asthma drug Xopenex last week, saying it needed to review the policy. The cut, originally slated for July 1, would have reimbursed the brand-name Xopenex, manufactured by Sepracor, at the same rate as generic albuterol. The latest average sales prices (ASP) figures, released last week, report 10 cents per dose for albuterol and 58 cents for Xopenex, down from 70 cents the previous quarter. Sepracor's shares rose nearly 1% on the news. The company had Xopenex sales of $160 million in the first quarter of 2008. In other pricing, ipratropium stayed at 20 cents; while Budesonide was up 30 cents to $5.34. DuoNeb dropped almost 30 cents to 58 cents per dose; Pricing for newer long-acting beta agonists was mixed, with Brovana up 5 cents to $4.79 and Perforomist dropping 86 cents to $4.08 per dose.

Providers sue for temporary contracts
MIAMI - In yet another legal challenge to competitive bidding, a network of Miami providers filed a bid protest against the United States in Federal Claims Court June 16. The All Florida Network was disqualified when three of its member companies supposedly failed to provide certain financial documents, said network member Jack Marquez, owner of Miami-based Cobra Medical Equipment. "We're claiming we are damaged by the actions of the government, and it is going to adversely affect all of our companies," he said.