PHARMACY

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois hits e-Rx milestone

BY Allison Cerra

CHICAGO Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois announced Monday that physicians and healthcare providers in the Illinois E-Prescribing Collaborative reached a major milestone in their e-prescribing efforts: the one millionth e-prescription transmitted. The Illinois Blues program also recorded the significant benefits of expanded use of electronic prescribing technology.

“E-prescribing enhances patient care and prevents errors,” said Scott Sarran, M.D., BCBSIL’s chief medical officer. “E-prescribing reduces the potential for drug interactions, which can be extremely harmful, and even fatal in some cases, and it can eliminate the potential for errors that can occur if pharmacists can’t read hand-written prescriptions.”

Sarran said that since BCBSIL launched the e-prescribing program in April 2007, more than 119,000 possible drug interactions have been flagged. As a result, nearly 20% of prescriptions were changed or cancelled.

Based on national trends, more than 670,000 prescriptions will be changed and cancelled in 2009, due to drug interaction warnings, and more than 53,600 prescriptions will be changed or cancelled due to drug allergy warnings.

The Institute of Medicine reports that more than 1.5 million Americans are injured every year by medication errors and recommends that all prescriptions be written and received electronically by the year 2010, BCBSIL said.

Surescripts, a St. Paul, Minn.-based national electronic prescribing network, said e-prescribing accounts for about 4.5% of all prescribing in the United States. However, since 2007, e-prescribing has more than doubled to 68 million in 2008 from 29 million in 2007.

Sarran said BCBSIL providers using the technology have increased. He has seen growth in the number of scripts routed electronically. According to the 2008 Electronic Prescribing Progress Report, Illinois ranked 21st in the nation for total number of prescriptions routed electronically. In 2007, the state ranked 28th and was 27th in 2006.

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Asteres to debut new automated pharmacy kiosk at NACDS Pharmacy & Technology Conference

BY Alaric DeArment

SAN DIEGO A company that makes automated pharmacy kiosks plans to unveil its latest products at an upcoming conference.

Asteres, which makes the ScriptCenter kiosk, announced this week that it would debut ScriptCenter 24/7 Automated Pharmacy Services at the 2009 National Association of Chain Drug Stores Pharmacy & Technology Conference in Boston, which begins Saturday.

“To date, ScriptCenter has enabled retailers to reduce pharmacy hours and increase customer services,” Asteres CEO Mark de Bruin said in a statement. “The addition of 24/7 Automated Pharmacy Services will expand customer engagement opportunities and drive incremental store sales leveraging kiosk, online and cell technologies.”

The services include the Express Prescription Pickup, Prescription Drop Off Anytime, one-touch pickup for families, ScriptCenter.com and others.

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Sciele Pharma announces availability of head lice treatment

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK A new drug for treating head lice has become available from a subsidiary of a Japanese drug company.

Sciele Pharma, part of Shionogi, announced this week the availability of Ulesfia (benzyl alcohol lotion 5%). The medication kills head lice by asphyxiation without potential neurotoxic side effects, the company said.

Head lice infestation affects 6 to 12 million children between the ages of 3 and 12 every year. To breathe, head lice use breathing holes that close upon contact with most liquids, which allows them to go into suspended animation and survive for hours without respiration, but Ulesfia prevents them from closing their breathing holes, causing the insects to asphyxiate.

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