Deal puts providers on defensive

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Soporex’s sale of 20,000 respiratory medication patients to Lincare in August could have far-reaching consequences for HME providers, say industry sources.

Just before filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy Aug. 22, Dallas-based Soporex told senior pharmacy staff at its Independent Home Pharmacy to start transferring patient records to Med4Home, Lincare’s respiratory pharmacy .

Med4Home, say industry insiders, has a reputation for “data mining” patient bases for other business.

“They could start calling those patients and trying to get them for oxygen, sleep and diabetic supplies,” said one industry insider.

IHP, like most neb-med pharmacies, filled prescriptions for HMEs without their own pharmacies. In return, providers got to serve the patient’s other needs.

Selling the patients to Med4Home puts providers on the defensive, industry sources say.

“This is going to go against the wishes of a lot of HMEs that thought IHP was a great place to send their business,” said Mickey Letson, president of Decatur, Ala.-based Letco Companies. “It is not fair to providers who had referred them their patients, thinking they would not be going to a competitor.”

Fortunately, patients have the right to choose who to get their medications from, he said. Several larger neb-med providers reported an uptick in business right after the news broke.

“Our phones have not stopped ringing,” said one pharmacy provider, who expected to gain a significant increase in patients. “It comes down to patient choice and the HME referring body to choose a business partner that is not in competition with them.”