Weekend Update

  • The President released his Fiscal Year 2009 budget on Monday. Govexec.com offers a series of special reports on the budget. The budget contains no new FEHB Program proposals. It drops last year’s proposal to weight an annuitant’s FEHBP government contribution on his or her years of government service.
  • The agenda for the March 19-20 FEHBP carrier conference has been posted online.
  • URAC is seeking public comment on its new Specialty Pharmacy, Mail Service Pharmacy and Pharmacy Benefit Management (PBM) for Workers Compensation and Property and Casualty accreditation programs.
  • Merck agreed to pay the government $650 million to settle False Claims Act charges based on its marketing practices for the arthritis drug Vioxx and the cholesterol drug Zocor. The settlement derives from alleged Medicaid best pricing law violations and therefore will not benefit the FEHB Program.
  • In other pharma litigation developments, four health insurers were awarded a $69 million antitrust judgment against Mylan Laboratories for using its market domination over two anti-anxiety drugs, lorazepam and clorazepate, to inflate the prices charged for those drugs. Interestingly, the health insurers had opted out of a class action against Mylan Labs for the same practice. Mylan Labs has announced that it will appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.