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APhA annual gathering a call to advance Rx

BY Jim Frederick

SAN DIEGO —Pharmacists working in every type of practice setting must join in a broad campaign to renew the practice of pharmacy, build a more prominent role in the healthcare system of the future and connect their disease-management and drug therapy efforts with a fully integrated network of patient care, the leaders of the American Pharmacists Association asserted last month.

Addressing pharmacists, pharmacy stakeholders and hundreds of students at the association’s 2008 Annual Meeting and Exposition, outgoing APhA president and CVS pharmacist Winnie Landis and incoming president Tim Tucker spotlighted the drive by APhA and other pharmacy organizations to advance patient care activities, medication therapy management and a new and more economically viable model for pharmacy practice. And they highlighted APhA’s increasing collaboration with other groups like the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the National Community Pharmacists Association and the Coalition for Community Pharmacy.

“In communities across the country, we light the way for patients and those in need, adrift in the difficult, disorienting and occasionally dangerous healthcare ocean,” Landis said at the meeting’s opening general session March 15. “To continue evolving we must build on our success by further developing our crucial relationships, ensuring that we receive our deserved and desired recognition and increasing our responsibility.”

Landis and other pharmacy leaders who descended on San Diego’s Convention Center readily acknowledged the legislative, regulatory and financial hurdles still ahead for the profession. But the four-day event also provided a showcase of new ideas in clinical practice and professional standards, as well as APhA’s traditionally rich diet of clinical seminars on every topic of interest to practitioners, from compounding to nuclear pharmacy.

The profession’s biggest yearly gathering, hosted by its oldest professional organization, drew seasoned practitioners from every practice setting, along with pharmacy students and educators, healthcare experts and guests. It also drew a slew of prospective employers, including most of the industry’s largest retail pharmacy chains, who eagerly courted those pharmacy students.

In speeches and dozens of seminars, the event put a sharp focus on the common challenges pharmacy professionals face and the need for collaboration to confront such issues as Medicaid reimbursements, tamper-free prescription pads and medication therapy management.

In his inaugural address as 2008-2009 APhA president, Tucker urged attendees to think of the 156-year-old association as “a lighthouse for the practitioners, students and scientists of our profession.” He cited the renovation of APhA’s headquarters building—the only association hub located on the National Mall in Washington—as “a symbol of pharmacy’s rich heritage at one of the most prestigious locations in the country, highlighting the profession’s contribution to health care.”

The newly renovated headquarters is due for completion next year. Together with a slew of programs unleashed by APhA to improve patients’ wellbeing and foster greater recognition of pharmacy’s value, said Tucker, the increased capacity at the new headquarters “will serve as a catalyst to transform the delivery of health care.”

Tucker, a community pharmacist from Huntingdon, Tenn., predicted that “many of the projects and programs APhA has recently launched will bear fruit in 2008 and 2009.” Both he and Landis ticked off some of those initiatives to advance the profession, many of which are in collaboration with other groups like NACDS and regulatory agencies like the Food and Drug Administration.

Among them:

New guidelines for MTM. This year’s APhA conference featured the long-awaited release of Version 2.0 of Medication Therapy Management in Pharmacy Practice: Core Elements of an MTM Service Version 2.0. The new document, created through a collaboration of APhA and the NACDS Foundation, updates the original 2004 version, which provided the foundational framework for the development of many MTM programs across the country.

The launch at the conference of a campaign to educate patients and policy makers about the risks of unintentional misuse of prescription drugs and the role of the pharmacist in helping with appropriate medication use. APhA teamed up with the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, with support from the Community Pharmacy Foundation, to launch the project.

The Diabetes Ten City Challenge [see related story above];

The expansion of Project Destiny, a collaborative effort to establish and demonstrate a model for pharmacy care.

The Bringing Your Medicines to Life campaign to raise funds to establish a Center for Pharmacist-Based Health Solutions at APhA’s headquarters. The new center will be “designed to respond quickly and …

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JPMA refutes media reports about dangers of baby bottle materials

BY Jenna Duncan

MT. LAUREL, N.J. The media has been asked by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association to halt stories with claims of purported negative health effects from using baby products containing bisphenol A (BPA). JPMA claims that statements of ill health linked to items containing BPA are often misleading and frighten consumers.

According to JPMA, research has shown that when used properly, products made with BPA do not pose a health threat.

Robert Waller, Jr., the president of JPMA, said, “JPMA is extremely disappointed in the media for speculating that Health Canada’s assessment of BPA would recommend labeling the chemical a dangerous substance, when in fact the report has not even been issued yet.”

Claims in the media have stated that risk may come from the plastic shields on pacifiers, parts of baby bottles or sippy cups being broken down or chewed, and then ingested with food or saliva. Scientific findings indicate that BPA may cause estrogenic effects in laboratory animals, and so concerns about the safety of baby products, especially bottles, has been under scrutiny.

JPMA, whose mission is to educate consumers and industry professionals about juvenile products and safety, is referring consumers to its Web site, www.babybottles.org, for more information on BPA and related health findings.

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American Greetings reports fiscal 2008 profit

BY Doug Desjardins

CLEVELAND American Greetings generated $83.3 million in earnings for fiscal 2008, including $15.6 million in the fourth quarter ended Feb. 29, and more than $1.77 billion in total sales for year. Total sales were down about 1 percent from $1.79 billion the previous year, but earnings were up 96 percent from $42.4 million.

“I’m pleased we were able to achieve earnings within our forecasted range and exceed our cash flow guidance,” said American Greetings chief executive officer Zev Weiss. “Our strong cash flow allowed us to make two acquisitions in the digital photo space and repurchase shares.”

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