Cardinal Health RBC 2016 panel highlights impact, potential of pharmacy advocacy
Given that 51% of prescriptions in the average pharmacy are for Medicare or Medicaid beneficiaries, independent pharmacists know just how the business of pharmacy and public policy are inextricably linked. And at Cardinal Health RBC 2016, the ways pharmacists can have an impact on the legislative process were front and center.
During Cardinal Health RBC 2016’s Opening Session, host Eva Saha moderated a panel discussion about pharmacy advocacy, featuring Cardinal Health SVP Independent Sales Steve Lawrence, Healthcare Distribution Alliance SVP Kristen LaRose Freitas, National Community Pharmacists Association President and CEO Doug Hoey and Bronx-based independent pharmacist and President of the Pharmacists Society of the State of New York Roger Paganelli.
Paganelli kicked off the panel by discussing one of the tangible effects his involvement as a member of PSSNY has had on the profession, pointing to a New York law taking effect this year that focuses on multi-source generics pricing (MACs), creating a way for disputes to be appealed, investigated and resolved. The law requires pharmacy benefits managers to respond to pharmacy-filed appeals within seven days. If an appeal is deemed valid, all other pharmacies in the network will see the maximum allowable cost adjusted.
“When we are reimbursed less than what we pay for a prescription, we wanted the opportunity to go back to the PBMs and say, 'You paid us less than what we paid for this. It's not fair. We want it back,’” Paganelli said.
On the national level, HDA’s LaRose Freitas touted the speed with which pharmacy owners and other stakeholders came together to lobby Congress to pass a bill that worked to combat the prescription drug abuse epidemic, while ensuring legitimate patients could get access to their medication. The Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act was signed by President Barack Obama in April. The law clarifies some Drug Enforcement Agency regulations, while allowing pharmacies to correct any identified issues with medication before corrective action is taken.
“I think sometimes people feel like their voice isn't heard, but this legislation is an example of how pharmacy groups and patient groups asked for some guidance and clarity in DEA regulations and were ultimately successful,” LaRose Freitas said. “This was legislation that moved extremely quickly. Congress heard there was a problem that needed to be addressed, and they did it in a bipartisan way.”
Alongside the legislative victories are ongoing efforts that Hoey discussed, including one of the most anticipated issues awaiting congressional action — giving pharmacists provider status under Medicare Part B. The legislation, which has 290 House members and 49 senators as co-sponsors, is currently awaiting action by the Congressional Budget Office.
In addition, the NCPA has had a big hand in asking the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to issue a guidance that would address direct and indirect remuneration fees, which can be assessed by PBMs and plans months after a prescription is dispensed. The guidance NCPA is pushing for would require those fees to be disclosed at point of sale.
“It's not a cure all, but at least it's a step forward in being able to make some business decisions,” Hoey said.
Throughout the panel discussion, participants emphasized the impact that pharmacists who get involved in the process of lobbying lawmakers can have simply by reaching out to their representative. And Lawrence left RBC attendees with a call to action, highlighting the only pharmacist in Congress, Rep. Earl “Buddy” Carter, R-Ga.
“We need more pharmacists throughout state and national levels,” Lawrence said, adding that advocacy is equally important. “[Lawmakers] need to understand what you do every day so they can pass the right legislation and you can take care of your patients the way you want to. Doug said it best, and I’ve heard other people say it — you need to get into politics or get out of pharmacy — and you should take that to heart and get involved.”
Q&A: How consumers can fight the bedbug epidemic with KiltronX
Since a resurgence in the late 1990s, bedbugs persist as a problem across the United States. According to recent surveys by the National Pest Management Association, 99.6% of pest professionals surveyed treated for bedbugs in 2015 and one out of five Americans has had a bedbug infestation in their home or knows someone who has encountered bedbugs at home or in a hotel. As these infestations continue to rise across North America, DSN talked to Gary Beutler, COO of KiltronX Enviro Systems, about the problem and the remedies required to combat it.
DSN: How widespread is the bedbug problem in the United States?
Gary Beutler: About 85% of the U.S. population is now looking to avoid bedbugs and looking into steps needed to prevent them. Close to 200 million in the United States have had, know someone who has and are looking to avoid bedbugs. The real problem is that the majority of Americans can’t afford professional pest control and have nowhere to turn because pesticides, heat and poisons can’t stop them. KiltronX Live Free Pesticide Alternative is a mechanical killer and not a poison. Bedbugs are everywhere and on the move, hiking their way into our homes, movie theaters, automobiles, schools, institutions, workplace and all spaces that humans and pets share.
DSN: What can retailers expect from bedbug pandemic this year?
Beutler: The bedbug epidemic has become a life-and-death threat and public health risk that is underreported, underdiagnosed and has no cure or vaccine.
Complaints and possible civil liability have occurred as bedbugs have become resistant to popular pesticides and can't stop them. Pesticide pushback on products currently found on shelves links to cancer and terrible illnesses. An estimated 12 million people in the United States are infected with tropical diseases and most don't know it. Increased cases of deadly diseases, such as Chagas disease and MRSA, are transmitted by bedbugs and is the greatest insect threat to Americans, even greater than Zika.
DSN: How is KiltronX delivering value within the pest control space to its retailer customers?
Beutler: KiltronX’s mission and purpose is the marketing of our products with our company's commitment to "HelpingUHelpsMe," so when a consumer buys one, we gift one and our company is socially responsible to helping those who can’t help themselves. So with every purchase made, we verifiably gift bedbug products. KiltronX products are made in America and sold by veterans through our Veteran Foxhole Program. Our Live Free Pesticide Alternative Bedbug products are the most affordable, carry the longest guarantee DIY products available. Once installed, they create a live free "wall" between the consumer and bedbugs. Live Free Textile products work 365/24/7 and (by far) carry the longest unconditional replacement guarantee of any product.
DSN: Which consumer segments do you see as key to your growth strategy? What is KiltronX doing to reach these desired segments?
Beutler: We have a reciprocal partnership with the 200-year-old WestPoint Home textile company. Their value proposition to us is their tradition, size, quality textiles and worldwide distribution, and we bring the innovation and market expansion. WestPoint Home’s partnership with KiltronX is further validation of the scale and eminence of solving this world problem.
Our ultimate corporate goal is to completely eliminate bedbugs from the planet. With that in mind, we have selective specialization for prioritizing the highest potential markets. Once we receive large market adoption, we can expand into all other segments to completely squash this pest. In a recent survey of all pest control professionals in the country, 95% reported treating bedbugs in apartments/condominiums, 93% in single family homes and 75% in hotels/motels. Bedbugs live where we live, which is why we are so focused on partnering with local neighborhood pharmacies and drugs stores. Because our products are an entirely new method for solving this human dilemma, we have two main categories we are focusing our efforts [on].
Treatment of bedbug infestation is an existing market that has been traditionally served with pesticide chemicals with little positive evidence of success. This psychographic segment is being served with our product with great success, and we are targeting "innovators," "thinkers" and "makers" within this segment because they are attracted to safe alternatives, simple functionality of our product, potential DIY application and our commitment to making our product in America. The hurdle in this segment is the legacy belief that it has to be a "nasty" pesticide to kill a "nasty" bug, but our customers continue to be amazed that our product is significantly more effective and safe.
The second major category is prevention, which is not served by any other comparable product. This behavioral segment is best defined by occasions. Bedbugs must hitchhike to move from location to location, and we've designed our product line to take advantage of this inherent trait. I define this consumer segment in my own words as "movers and shakers." The major link between these consumers is travel or moving. Any person who travels for business, vacation, grand kid visit, wedding, funeral, reunion, public transportation, including trains, buses, automobiles, RVs, taxis; and permanent movers like college kids, apartment renters or new home buyers. These consumers want to "live free" from bedbugs and protect their loved ones when they come back home. The hurdle of this segment is educating the consumer that there is a safe product available for prevention. Because historically, no one would have purposely exposed their loved ones to pesticides if they didn’t already have an infestation — we have to change the consumer mindset. The best way to effect this change is with trusted influencers such as pharmacists, local drug store owners, corporate human resource officers and employees that live in the same community. We have also partnered with Tony Bongiovi and Radd.Org in delivering music in our efforts to empower children.
Q&A: Changing the paradigm in personalized wellness with Unomi
Drug Store News caught up with Unomi founder and CSO Pam Helmly for a rundown on the brand and how it will change personalized wellness.
DSN: What is Ūnomi, and why should retailers be interested in getting involved?
Pam Machemehl Helmly: Ūnomi will change the paradigm in personalized wellness. We are a complete system that is not found on the market today. Retailers want to offer a true nutritional solution to common healthcare concerns, and that’s where we come in. … Our at-home test kits check a multitude of deficiencies and issues that concern consumers, such as brain chemistry levels, testosterone levels, cholesterol, diabetes markers and many others. We’ve also made the system very turnkey: A consumer picks up their desired test at the store. The kits come complete with return postage, instructions and collection device. The consumer sends their sample to our lab where the test results are personally reviewed by one of our Ūnomi team of experts. When the results are ready to view, they receive an email notification. Their test results are available to view privately and securely online, along with their unique daily supplement plan recommendation.
For example, if LDL cholesterol comes back high, a recommendation of increasing aerobic exercise would be made, coupled with a decrease in bad fats, as well as a supplement regimen to help improve these levels. The end product … is often additional testing that will help guide the consumer through a true wellness plan. Ūnomi is careful to not make recommendations to clients who need to seek a physician immediately.
DSN: How will Ūnomi change/grow the VMS category? How does it work?
Helmly: We have a very unique model of identifying problems and recommending solutions using independent, certified labs. Since our proprietary software offers a custom report to the consumer, the sale of specific formulas are part of the solution. Plus, the formulas are unique combinations not typically found on pharmacy shelves. We have an additional component to our software that is offered to pharmacies that choose to utilize our solution at retail. This additional software offers the upsell of the store brand supplementation when a pharmaceutical is dispensed that causes Drug Induced Nutrient Depletions (DINDs). Most pharmacists are aware of the DINDs, such as the B vitamins that are depleted with birth control pills or Co Q-10 that is depleted with statin medications.
DSN: Tell us about your target consumer. What healthcare trends does Ūnomi capitalize on?
Helmly: Our program is driven by science and is focused on making people feel better by guiding them to reversing nutritional deficiencies. Therefore, our target consumer is someone who frequents a pharmacy for guidance on improving their health and wellness, as well as those who take prescriptions. Many of these consumers may want to do additional testing between visits to their practitioner to see if the regimen that they are implementing with pharmaceuticals or nutritionals is effective, or perhaps they are uninsured and would like a cost-effective way to improve their health, since at-home testing is increasing at a rapid clip. Consumers are also driving natural health and wellness. We coupled those two economic trends with such health issues as prediabetes, heart disease support, hormonal fluctuations due to stress and many mood and focus issues.
DSN: What is the clinical support/evidence available to insure efficacy and quality?
Helmly: We are fully HIPAA compliant and use only FDA-certified labs and manufacturers. Our scientific knowledge bases include recommendations considered the best standard of care by the Institutes of Functional Medicine and American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, as well as The American Heart Association dietary and lifestyle recommendations. Since the solution includes retesting, appropriate recommendations can continually be included. The device that is being utilized has unique stability far and above the typical testing cards that have been utilized in the past by at-home testing companies. This device can separate whole blood from serum to allow for a variety of tests to be performed. Once the sample is removed from the at-home collection device, it is analyzed in the same manner as venipuncture derived blood.
DSN: How can large employer groups, such as national retailers, leverage Ūnomi for their employee populations?
Helmly: Ūnomi has a special portal for corporate wellness/employee populations. Custom test panels are available, as well as access to nutritionals. The data analytics available can be used for risk assessment and employee engagement.
We plan to be on-shelf in the first quarter of 2017. We look forward to our formal launch at NACDS TSE in Boston. We’re excited to work with our retailer-partners to dramatically impact the personalized wellness paradigm together, and we remain fully committed to “making people feel better.”