GAO counters drug companies on preferential pricing. In a report released earlier this month, the General Accounting Office said extending the federal government's preferential drug prices to public hospitals operated by state and local governments would have an "uncertain" effect. That runs counter to drug industry claims such a scheme would raise drug prices. Drug purchasing provisions of a 1994 federal law that has yet to be implemented were the subject of the GAO report. Those provisions would amount to price controls, said the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, which praised the report for saying the purchasing scheme would create more problems than it would solve. But the Public Hospital Pharmacy Coalition read the report as supporting its contention that drug prices would not be forced higher by the law. "We feel vindicated," said Bill von Oehsen, counsel to the PHPC. "We are especially pleased that GAO cited our market analysis showing that only 0.5% of the total prescription drug market would be affected."
LabCorp settles auto mileage case. Laboratory Corporation of America has paid $700,000 to settle allegations that it overcharged Medicare for car-mileage reimbursement when phlebotomists drove to draw blood from homebound or nursing home patients. The agreement settled claims that LabCorp-through Florida facilities formerly owned by its subsidiary, National Health Laboratories-defrauded Medicare. In Florida, Medicare reimbursed laboratories for mileage. The government said LabCorp's phlebotomists exaggerated the miles they drove from 1989 to 1996.
Top Horizon/CMS exec resigns. Albuquerque-based Horizon/CMS Healthcare Corp. announced that Michael Jeffries has resigned as the company's senior vice president of operations. Jeffries joined Horizon/CMS in 1989 as the chief operating officer of its long-term-care division. He will remain as an assistant to the president through Sept. 1. Horizon said Joseph Turmes will replace him as senior vice president of operations in charge of the company's long-term-care, assisted-living and specialty hospital divisions. Turmes had been vice president of operations for the long-term-care division.
Tenet names chief medical officer. Tenet Healthcare Corp. of Santa Barbara, Calif., has named Norman Bobes, M.D., the company's first chief medical officer. Bobes was also named a company senior vice president. Bobes will report to Tenet President and Chief Operating Officer Michael Focht. Bobes has been a member of Tenet's 16-member Physician Advisory Board since 1993.
Cardinal, Sharp ink drug pact. Cardinal Health has inked a five-year multiline pharmacy service deal with Sharp HealthCare, San Diego. Cardinal, based in Dublin, Ohio, will handle distribution of an expected annual drug volume of about $25 million. As part of the pact, Cardinal will also lease to Sharp 150 automated dispensing stations made by its Pyxis Corp. subsidiary. In addition, Cardinal will supply Sharp with consulting services, including placing a pharmacist from its Owen Healthcare subsidiary on site at Sharp.
Another Baxter spinoff. Baxter International is spinning off its immunotherapy division into a joint venture that will be majority controlled by Vimrx Pharmaceuticals, Wilmington, Del. Deerfield, Ill.-based Baxter will hold about a 20% stake in the joint venture, which has yet to be named and will be based at the current headquarters of Baxter's immunotherapy division in Irvine, Calif. Baxter will receive Vimrx stock worth about $90 million under the deal outlined in a letter of intent.
Crawford named to AHA post. The American Hospital Association earlier this month appointed Raymond S. "Tres" Crawford III, M.D., as its new senior vice president for quality leadership. Crawford is a former executive vice president and chief operating officer of FMAS Corp., a medical information services company headquartered in Rockville, Md.