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Last updateWed, 23 May 2018 12am







    Tuesday, May 22, 2018-2:26:27A.M.






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Cohen: PHI did an outstanding job

PACIFIC Health Inc. vice president Bruce Cohen said the absence of an outpatient pharmacy at the Commonwealth Health Center would be detrimental to the people who need access to pharmaceuticals.

Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. Chief Executive Officer Esther Muna has said that PHI’S operation at the hospital will expire on Aug. 14, and that CHCC intends to run its own outpatient pharmacy that will offer low-cost medications through the federal 340B program.

In a phone interview, Cohen said PHI has been doing an outstanding job of providing outpatient pharmacy services for 21 years.

“We would like to work with CHC and stay with CHC to provide outpatient pharmacy services,” he said, but added that both parties failed to reach common ground.

According to Cohen, in 1996, when they first came in, CHC had trouble with the procurement of pharmaceuticals and the pharmacy was running out of medications.

“We rectified the problem,” he added.

But Muna said they now have more medicines than the outpatient pharmacies. “In fact, the pharmacies here on island borrow from us because sometimes they don’t have the medications in stock . They borrow from us more than we do.”

Cohen said under the original pharmacy outpatient agreement, which PHI signed in 1996, there was to be some lending of pharmaceuticals “back and forth.”

“PHI would help CHC and PHI could also borrow from CHC,” he added.

If CHCC intends to run its own pharmacy starting on Aug. 15, Cohen wants to know if the hospital has a pharmacy license or if it has an insurance company.

“If Esther thinks they can open an outpatient pharmacy, I would like to ask if they have hired pharmacists and staff. Do they have a location at the hospital that is under construction?”

Cohen said the public should compare the prices of PHI’s prescription medicines to those of Guam and Hawaii. He said PHI drugs are cheaper than those offered by pharmacies on Guam and Hawaii.

He added that pharmacies do not set the price for prescription drugs — insurance companies do.

“The prices at pharmacies are dependent on health insurance companies. The insurance companies hire a pharmacy benefit manager that designs the reimbursement for pharmacies using average wholesale prices or different pricing schemes plus a dispensing fee.”

Regarding the 340B discounted drug program, Cohen said if CHCC is qualified, it can contract with a pharmacy like PHI.

“I told Esther that we could be a contract pharmacy for them because we have computers, pharmacists and staff, medications — we have everything in operation with no additional costs and we can institute the 340B drug program through PHI.”

Cohen said CHCC can run its own pharmacy and can dispense 340B drugs, “but they have to hire pharmacists, get licenses, and they must have equipment for inventory. They have to get computers. It’s a regulated program. A contract pharmacy [like PHI] has the expertise and could do the 340B program.”