PHARMACY

Baroma ACO implements Walgreens WellTransitions program

BY Michael Johnsen

MIAMI — Baroma on Tuesday announced a strategic relationship with Walgreens that will bring pharmacists and hospital staff together to help reduce re-admissions and increase medication adherence for Baroma’s accountable care organization.

Baroma has implemented Walgreens WellTransitions program, a collaborative transition of care program that provides ongoing follow-up and patient support during and after discharge from the hospital, to help achieve its goals for re-admissions and medication adherence, two important criteria outlined under the shared savings initiative with The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

“The health information landscape is fragmented, with individual groups or facilities often knowing only what they have prescribed or what their patients have discussed with them. Now, when a patient is discharged, we can inform our physicians of their patient’s medication history," stated Marisela Rodriquez, Baroma COO. "So, as the primary care physician, they can make more informed decisions and can better educate their patients on how they should take their medications. This access to information will help reduce hospital admission caused by medication mismanagement or nonadherence.” 

WellTransitions, launched by Walgreens in 2012, utilizes features such as real-time patient readmission information, root cause analysis and more as part of a multi-step process that spans the discharge period. The program has already proven instrumental in helping hospitals recognize the “triple aim” of greater patient satisfaction, better health outcomes and lower costs. 

As an Accountable Care Organization, Baroma has chosen to further develop Walgreens WellTransitions as an ACO-specific tool, with the Walgreens pharmacy team working in collaboration with Baroma Care Navigators and participating physicians to reduce preventable hospital readmission by improving medication adherence.

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Biosimilars should take same generic names as branded counterparts, Hospira’s Ramachandra says

BY Alaric DeArment

LAKE FOREST, Ill. — A top executive of generic drug maker Hospira spoke in favor of giving biosimilar drugs the same generic names as the branded biologics they’re based on.

In remarks in Geneva on Tuesday at the World Health Organization’s 57th Consultation on International Nonproprietary Names for Pharmaceutical Substances, Hospira SVP and chief scientific officer Sumant Ramachandra said that European regulators had approved biosimilars with the same generic names as their reference biologics for more than six years in a system that had proved effective. Ramachandra’s remarks were from a paper that the drug maker issued last week.

The question of whether biosimilars should carry the same generic names as their reference products or carry special names has emerged as a key issue as the Food and Drug Administration works to create an abbreviated approval pathway for biosimilars, as mandated by provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Biotech companies, which stand to lose billions in sales when cheaper biosimilar versions of their products enter the market — according to IMS Health, biosimilars in Europe have helped lower costs by 20% to 30%, and the Generic Pharmaceutical Association estimates they could safe the U.S. healthcare system $20 billion per year — maintain that because biosimilars will be made using separate cell lines, there is a risk that they will be different in terms of efficacy and safety.

Ramachandra also said that biosimilars have been successfully tracked in the marketplace using their brand names, meaning that a separate name isn’t necessary for keeping track of them, and that the Affordable Care Act didn’t include language requiring separate generic names. Furthermore, separate generic names could create confusion among the clinicians who rely on international and local standards to fill prescriptions, potentially resulting in safety and medication access issues.

“Biosimilars represent an enormous opportunity to put many of today’s most life-changing medicines in reach for millions more patients,” GPhA president and CEO Ralph Neas said. “It is critical that any decision on naming these products does not jeopardize that potential. That is why we are so pleased that WHO is taking a thoughtful and deliberate approach to reviewing this issue.”

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Amgen acquires rights to Neupogen, Neulasta in 100 markets from Roche

BY Alaric DeArment

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — Biotech drug maker Amgen has acquired from Roche the rights to drugs used to boost the immune systems of cancer patients on chemotherapy in 100 markets.

Amgen announced Tuesday that the transfer of rights to Neupogen (filgrastim) and Neulasta (pegfilgrastim) in several countries in Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa would take effect on Jan. 1, 2014. Financial terms were not disclosed, but the drugs generated about $200 million in sales in those areas last year. Roche has since 1989 held the rights to the drugs in those markets under license from Kirin-Amgen, a joint venture between Amgen and Japan-based Kirin Holdings Co.

"This agreement will enable Amgen to reach more patients around the world with two of our innovative medicines," Amgen chairman and CEO Robert Bradway said. "The transaction will allow us to build experience and capacity in countries that will be important in accelerating future growth of Amgen’s pipeline products."

 

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