PHARMACY

Avalere study shows Part D alleviates financial burden on those with diabetes

BY Drew Buono

WASHINGTON According to a new study by Avalere Health, Medicare Part D has improved drug coverage and lessened the financial burden for many beneficiaries with Type 2 diabetes. The study also focused on drug utilization and the impact the “doughnut hole” coverage had on patients staying on their drug regimen.

Some of the results of the study were: most drugs used to treat diabetes and its two most common co-occurring conditions, hypertension and dyslipidemia, are widely covered by Part D health plans, at rates of 85 percent to 88 percent, and on tiers 1 and 2 of plan formularies, which are associated with the lowest co-payments. By comparison, previous Avalere analysis showed that Part D formularies included an average of 75 percent of antipsychotic drugs and 88 percent of antidepressants.

In terms of drug utilization and costs for the medications, out-of-pocket diabetes drug costs per prescription were 35 percent lower for stand-alone prescription drug plan enrollees and 25 percent lower for Medicare Advantage prescription drug plan enrollees, as compared with fellow Medicare beneficiaries who chose not to enroll in Part D. PDP enrollees were taking 11.2 percent more prescriptions and MA-PD enrollees 6.2 percent more prescriptions than before they had Part D coverage.

The study also showed that once beneficiaries hit the “doughnut hole” for coverage, there was no reduction in the number of prescriptions filled by the patient. The results are noteworthy considering that the scare of the “hole” was that once patients would have to pay out-of-pocket, they would cease taking their medications regularly, if not altogether.

“Knowing when people with diabetes may hit the coverage gap is important for physicians who can look for signs of non-compliance, and for individuals who can use this data for financial planning purposes,” said Valerie Barton, vice president of Avalere Health and co-author of the study. “The lack of change in the number of prescription drugs used invites more research on whether patients with Type 2 diabetes tend to enroll in Part D plans that offered gap coverage, the financial sensitivity of patients with chronic illness and generic switching patterns for patients in the coverage gap.”

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PHARMACY

NACDS Foundation, eHealth Initiative to host health technology conference

BY Jim Frederick

ALEXANDRIA, Va. Scrambling to keep its members abreast of rapid changes in health information technology and electronic communications, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Foundation will co-host a two-day conference in June on the advances transforming health care.

The NACDS Foundation is collaborating with eHealth Initiative, a Washington-based nonprofit organization specializing in quality and health information technology, to sponsor the event. Titled “HIT, EMR, PHR- Transforming Patient Care,” the conference is set for June 11 to 12 at the Sheraton Crystal City in Arlington, Va.

Among the topics the meeting will address are the use of technology in electronic prescribing, medication therapy management, patient education programs, comprehensive medication review and other initiatives to manage data and improve patient health.

“Advances in health information technology, new electronic prescribing regulations and increased adoption of electronic medical records are changing the landscape of pharmacy provided patient services,” said foundation president Phil Schneider. “As other sectors of the healthcare system adopt health information technology practices, the opportunity is tremendous for community pharmacy to play an integral role in new ways to provide patient care.”  

Janet Marchibroda, chief executive officer of eHealth Initiative, said the event would focus on “highlighting significant progress made—across a variety of sectors of health care, including pharmacies—in using health information technology to transform patient care.” The conference, she continued,  “will offer practical guidance and best practices for using health IT to improve the quality, safety and effectiveness of health care in the United States.”

Registration information can be found at www.nacdsfoundation.org.

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Medical Marts clinics lose funding, are forced to close

BY Antoinette Alexander

LAS VEGAS Medical Marts, an operator of physician-staffed clinics located in select Meijer, Sears/Kmart and ShopKo stores, has closed its doors.

Ken Richmond, who had served as vice president and chief medical officer of Medical Marts, told Drug Store News that the venture capitalists backing the operation changed their mind for reasons that are unclear and decided to move in another direction.

When it closed, the company had operated 13 clinics in Utah, Illinois and Virginia. The physician-staffed clinics were within retailers ShopKo, Meijer and Sears/Kmart. It staffed about 75 employees, of which more than 20 were physicians.

Medical Mart, which opened its first clinic in Salt Lake City in November 2006, had planned to open up to 100 more clinics in 2008.

Dismayed over the company’s decision to close, Richmond said he believes the concept “is a winner” that addresses many of the problems in mainstream healthcare, especially access to healthcare.

“This is the first way in which physicians were truly community based,” said Richmond. “Rather than physicians saying to the public you come to us, we came to the public and made ourselves available at their convenience.”

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