PHARMACY

BI-LO Pharmacies to process Tennessee drug card

BY Allison Cerra

CHATTANOOGA , Tenn. In an effort to make one state’s healthcare initiative accessible to all, BI-LO Pharmacies has agreed to process customers who are unable to access Tennessee’s new online discount prescription program, officials said Tuesday.

The Tennessee Drug Card, which was launched earlier this week, is accessible to all underinsured or uninsured residents who seek discounts on their prescription medications. Because the initiative is Internet-based, many Tennesseans in need of the discount have may trouble accessing it if they do not have a computer. BI-LO Pharmacies, however, encourages patrons that do not have a card in hand to visit one of their stores, mention the program and receive a discount on their medications, officials said.

While there are over 900 pharmacies in the state of Tennessee that participate in the program, BI-LO pharmacies has become more involved by helping out those customers without a card in hand. Currently, there are a total of 18 BI-LO pharmacies in the state.

The Tennessee Drug Card is an initiative established through the partnership between United Networks of America and pharmacy companies that work to deliver affordable drug prices to individuals lacking prescription benefits, officials stated. Tennessee Drug Card has also aligned with non-profit group Health Access America to inform the public about the availability of these discounts.

“By working with Tennessee Drug Card on this initiative, we saw the opportunity to reach out to the communities we operate in and help folks save some money on their prescriptions,” said BI-LO regional pharmacy manager Maurice Kopp.

Savings through the program range from 10 percent to 75 percent, depending on the drug. Generic drug discounts average 35 percent to 45 percent, while brand-name drugs average savings of 10 percent to 20 percent, officials said.

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FDA increases potency of levothyroxine products

BY Drew Buono

WASHINGTON The Food and Drug Administration is strengthening the potency specifications for levothyroxine sodium to ensure the drug retains its potency over its entire shelf life.

The agency is increasing the specifications from a 90 to 110 percent potency range to a 95 to 105 percent range. The percent ranges were changed following concerns about the product by healthcare professionals and patients.

Data taken by the FDA showed that some of the levothyroxine products like blister packs degrade quicker than other package types. Also, some of the strengths have been shown to degrade more rapidly than others.

Manufacturers and marketers have two years to comply with the revised specification. Levothyroxine sodium products are used by over 13 million patients.

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FDA to review heart problems from osteoporosis drugs

BY Drew Buono

WASHINGTON The Food and Drug Administration is looking at new safety data on reports of atrial fibrillation in patients taking bisphosphonates.

Bisphosphonates are used to treat osteoporosis. The FDA is looking into the issue after a study in the May 3rd issue of the New England Journal of Medicine reported increased rates of serious atrial fibrillation in patients taking Fosamax and Reclast.

The FDA has performed an initial review and found that there was not a large enough group of people who were at risk for atrial fibrillation and would not as of right now ask for healthcare professionals to change their prescribing habits or to tell patients to change their use of the drugs.

The agency is seeking additional data to perform an in-depth review of the issue that could take up to one year to conclude.

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