PHARMACY

APhA’s diabetes challenge shows promising results

BY Jim Frederick

WASHINGTON A lengthy and broad-ranging pilot project to test the effectiveness of diabetes care initiatives by pharmacists allied with other healthcare professionals is yielding positive results among patients enrolled in the program, new data show.

Reporting on the initial results of its so-called Diabetes 10 City Challenge, the American Pharmacists Association Foundation cited “improved patient health across key clinical and diabetes care indicators” as a result of pharmacist interventions and other collaborative efforts.

The 10 City Challenge is an employer-based diabetes self-management program conducted by APhA Foundation with support from GlaxoSmithKline.  Since it was launched in October 2005, 31 employers in ten cities have joined forces with hundreds of pharmacists to help more than 1,000 people manage their diabetes.

The interim results of the years-long project appear in the March/April issue of the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association. They show a positive trend in controlling diabetes, according to APhA, including “documented clinical improvements in all the recognized standards for diabetes care.”

Among the results were decreases in blood sugar, LDL cholesterol and blood pressure levels; increases in the number of participants who keep current on influenza vaccinations, foot examinations and eye examinations; and a 21 percent rise in the number of participants who achieve American Diabetes Association goals for hemoglobin A1C results.

In addition, the report stated, more than 97 percent of patients who participate in the 10 City Challenge report being “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with the diabetes care provided by pharmacists.

 “The results to date prove that this collaborative-practice model is effective for managing diabetes and replicable in diverse locations and employers,” said William Ellis, chief executive officer of the APhA Foundation and co-author of the peer-reviewed interim data article. “In years of experience with this model we have seen that when you have positive clinical outcomes and increased patient satisfaction in the early stages, the economic benefits follow.” 

The final 10 City Challenge report, due out in 2009, will include cost-savings data for the employers who participated.

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Pharmacy organizations in California request CMS examination of Medi-Cal cuts

BY Adam Kraemer

SACRAMENTO, Calif. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the California Pharmacists Association and the California Retail Association called on federal regulators Friday to carefully examine a state plan amendment for a 10 percent “across-the-board” cut to Medi-Cal reimbursements.

In a joint letter to the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Kerry Weems, the groups highlighted potential consequences of the reduction, which was enacted last month.

“We urge that CMS ensure that DHCS and the Medi-Cal program have performed their statutorily required due diligence under the Medicaid statute in evaluating the impact of each component provider reduction on beneficiary access. If they have not done so, we urge that the SPA be rejected,” the groups stated.

“Maintaining pharmacy access is important not only to Medi-Cal beneficiaries’ health and safety, but also to the Medicaid program’s overall ability to constrain costs at the ‘macro’ level,” they noted, citing studies that have found reduced access to prescriptions can result in increased emergency room visits and prolonged hospital stays, which are more costly forms of healthcare.

Pharmacies fill over 22 million prescriptions for Medi-Cal patients every year, and NACDS, CPhA, and the CRA represent approximately 5,000 pharmacies operating in California.

“Many California providers—and particularly pharmacy providers—have experienced repeated reductions in Medi-Cal reimbursement over the last few years,” the groups wrote. “[It] it is crucial that any additional cuts be performed in a measured and rational manner that takes beneficiary access levels into consideration. We trust that if the supportive documentation submitted by the state with the proposed SPA fails to meet the federal statutory standard, CMS will reject that submission and insist that the federal standard be met through a provider-by-provider evaluation of beneficiary access levels.”

The full text of the letter is available here.

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Merck inks deal to commercialize future Marcadia products

BY Drew Buono

INDIANAPOLIS Marcadia Biotech and Merck have signed a deal under which Merck will help the company test and commercialize its products.

Under the terms of the agreement, Merck will pay Marcadia an initial upfront fee, as well as payments for exclusivity and ongoing research. Marcadia will also be eligible to receive future milestone and royalty payments associated with research, development and commercialization of certain new drugs. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Marcadia does not have any products on the market yet. It is developing a synthetic hormone that will be supplied in an injector pen, making it ready for quick use in emergency treatment of hypoglycemia.

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