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Arbitration to Settle Union Debate over Prescription Costs

Saturday, June, 13, 2015


A labor management dispute has arisen between Connecticut state employee unions regarding compounded prescriptions. The dispute will now head to arbitration September 23 of this year.

 

Compounded medications are a mixture of drugs that are made into an alternative form (for instance a pill becomes a topical cream). They are often made by out-of-state pharmacies that mark up prices of ingredients. The cost of making these medications has skyrocketed in the last three years from $800,000 to $24 million, and many believe taxpayers should not be on the hook for paying for the service.

 

Pre-Authorization Now Required

 

A prior authorization rule was recently implemented for compounded medications, but the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC) is challenging the pre-authorization policy and has requested binding arbitration to end the debate, claiming the rule interferes too much with a patient’s medical choices.

 

Despite the arbitration hearing date, there will continue to be discussions in hopes of reaching an agreement before the September deadline. Both parties agree that compounding pharmacies are trying to make money off of people’s suffering.

 

Compounded drugs are not approved by the FDA, despite the individual medications being cleared. They are also not approved for the particular administration method. For instance, a medication might be approved in pill form, but not as a topical cream.

 

Government Watch revealed that over the court of October 2013 through September 2014:

 

  • 8200 compounded prescriptions were given, costing taxpayers more than $10 million
  • Fluticasone (believed to be given for scar treatment) was the main ingredient in the most expensive compounded drugs
  • The bulk of the money paid for compounded drugs was sent to pharmacies out of state, the highest amount going to AssuredRx of Clearwater, FL.