AAP pursues ‘road to true independence’
Its leaders and member-owners call it “the newest and best independent pharmacy cooperative in the nation.” It’s certainly one of the largest.
American Associated Pharmacies was created in September 2009, the result of the merger of United Drugs and Associated Pharmacies, or API. The combined co-op offers its members “additional buying leverage” and a “larger network of pharmacies for managed care contracting.” The overriding goal: to enhance members’ “profitability and survivability” by wielding the combined clout of its 2,000 affiliate drug stores.
Said AAP president and CEO Jon Copeland, “true independence today can be gained only with interdependence with a true cooperative that is owned by its members.”
Among the core services offered to those members, a spokesman said, are a massive warehouse and distribution center in Alabama — a legacy of API — along with a managed-care contracting program that delivers “analysis and negotiation of all contracts,” and “gross margin analysis and responsive third-party reimbursement issue resolution.”
In addition, said AAP spokesman Brett Doucette, there is a growing list of “back-office services.” Among them:
A billing reconciliation service called TrueScript Reconciler that helps with processing of centrally paid claims, along with a reporting system to monitor receivables and manage collections;
A sophisticated order-entry system called Scan & Toss that links stores with the API warehouse and AAP’s primary wholesaler, Cardinal Health, via use of a hand-held scanner that automatically searches for product availability and the lowest price before placing the order;
A service called ProfitMinder that tracks down billing errors and other inefficiencies that could be draining members’ profit dollars; and
An increasingly sophisticated planogram and shelf-slotting service that connects independents with rebate opportunities from OTC manufacturers.
Council for Responsible Nutrition, Natural Products Association respond to British Medical Journal meta-analysis
WASHINGTON — Two associations representing dietary supplement companies criticized a British Medical Journal meta-analysis published April 20 that concluded calcium and vitamin D supplementation may increase risk of heart attack and stroke.
“[The] findings were not what one would expect to find — that for the women not taking personal calcium supplements at the start of the trial, those allocated to combined calcium and vitamin D supplements were at an increased risk of cardiovascular events,” Council for Responsible Nutrition SVP scientific and international affairs John Hathcock said. “Conversely, the authors also wrote that for women who were taking personal calcium supplements at the start of the trial, combined calcium and vitamin D supplements did not alter cardiovascular risk. So in this case, it appears the more you take, the better off you may be,” he said. “It seems more likely that [the] findings are a procedural or statistical anomaly.”
The authors of the controversial meta-analysis elected not to disclose possible benefits of calcium supplementation, Hathcock added. “While the authors did include data for those who before the trial had ‘any personal use of calcium’ having a highly significant 16% decrease from death from all causes, they chose to ignore that point in their text, having identified it only in a table.”
“This latest analysis does not present compelling evidence against calcium and vitamin D, and in fact, there are many more studies touting the beneficial effects for both,” stated Cara Welch, VP scientific and regulatory affairs for the Natural Products Association. “We hope that all individuals who use calcium supplements for bone health, and especially those under the direction of a physician, will continue their supplementation and not be swayed by this flawed analysis.”
CDC kicks off Flu App Challenge
ATLANTA — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday announced its CDC Flu App Challenge to identify innovative and creative uses of technology that would help raise awareness of influenza and/or educate consumers on ways to prevent and treat the flu. All told, the challenge will award up to $42,500 in prizes.
The submission period runs through May 27; winners will be announced June 8.
In an effort to support a place where the public and government can solve problems together, the CDC has compiled a wealth of data that now is available to the software development community at FluApp.challenge.gov to generate innovative solutions to promote healthy flu prevention behavior. Participants will be charged with creating new ways to utilize technologies for any platform broadly accessible to the open Internet.
The judges of the competition include Jim Cashel, chairman of Forum One Communications; Maureen Marshall, health communications specialist at the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases; Fred Smith, the technology team lead at the CDC’s electronic media branch; Mark Smolinski, director of global health threats at the Skoll Global Threats Fund; and Peter Speyer, director of data development for the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.
Judging criteria (followed by weight of criteria in parentheses) includes the degree to which the app or game uses a combination of creative and relevant data sets, including at least one from the list of CDC datasets (20%); the degree to which the app operates in a functional and elegant fashion (20%); the to which degree the software applies best practices for health and risk communication, as cited on CDC.gov/HealthCommunication/HealthBasics (20%); and, most importantly, the degree to which the app is considered creative, interesting and fun to use (40%).
The awards are $15,000 for first place, $10,000 for second place, $5,000 for third place, $2,500 for “People’s Choice” and $2,500 for honorable mention. Judges will have the discretion of awarding up to an additional five "honorable mention" prizes at $500 each.