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CARE expands into Vermont

BY Michael Johnsen

ALEXANDRIA, Va. CARE Pharmacy, based just outside the nation’s capital, announced Tuesday its entry into the Vermont market by attracting one of the state’s most successful community pharmacy owner operators, Steve Hochberg, to the company’s franchise model.

Hochberg owns and operates 3 stores in his immediate market, Rutland Pharmacy, Springfield Pharmacy and newly opened Manchester Pharmacy.

CARE is currently evaluating additional new markets including Massachusetts, North Carolina, South Carolina, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Kentucky. “CARE’s unique structure and value proposition are attracting successful and forward thinking owner operators who understand what the pharmacy market values, and how a highly compliant group like CARE can leverage its buying power at levels individual entities cannot,” the company stated.

“We are excited about the addition of these fine community pharmacies, and that a respected community pharmacy thought leader like Hochberg has determined CARE is the right environment for his stores,” stated CARE chief executive officer Gerry Crocker. “It is confirmation that our model represents access to contracts and services critical to keeping stores profitable and in a position that enables their growth to continue.”

CARE Pharmacies is a leading independent pharmacy franchisor in the United States, with 50 shareholders throughout Maryland, Virginia, and Washington and more than $200 million in annual sales.

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Pharmacy franchise networks expanding medication therapy

BY Jim Frederick

ST. LOUIS —Two franchise pharmacy networks owned by Cardinal Health are laying claim to an industry-leading position in their delivery of medication therapy management services to a select group of patients covered by the Medicare Part D drug benefit program.

The franchise groups, Medicine Shoppe and Medicap Pharmacy, have embraced the MTM concept and are expanding their out-reach efforts with patients, according to Bill Rampy, senior vice president of franchise operations for Medicine Shoppe International. For the second year in a row, he said, the two pharmacy networks scored highest in follow-through among pharmacy retailers participating in the MTM program sponsored by Community Care Rx, the pharmacy-sanctioned Medicare prescription drug plan.

“In 2007, Medicine Shoppe and Medicap Pharmacy stores completed the largest number and percentage of available MTM cases in the Community CCRx MTM program, compared to other pharmacy groups in their category, and achieved an approximate 20 percent increase in their performance from 2006 to 2007,” the company noted. “Additionally, three of the top 20 performers for the Community CCRx MTM program were Medicine Shoppe and Medicap Pharmacy pharmacists.”

Through MTM sessions, Medicine Shoppe and Medicap pharmacists have counseled patients on many medication issues, including potentially fatal drug interactions.

In addition, several MTM sessions have been able to identify patients that are non-compliant with their medication or could save money on their prescriptions.

“The basic principles of MTM parallel the values that define the Medicine Shoppe and Medicap Pharmacy brands, and help our pharmacies to continue providing patients with the highest level of personalized care,” Rampy said.

Over the next year, he added, Medicine Shoppe will work with payers to drive the MTM concept beyond its original role as a service for Medicare Part D patients. “As pharmacy reimbursements continue to shrink, it is increasingly important for community pharmacies to leverage new opportunities for growth,” Rampy noted. “MTM is an excellent opportunity to generate new revenue, as well as deepen customers’ view of the pharmacist as an essential healthcare resource.”

CCRx has proven a fertile launching pad for MTM. The company was launched in 2005 by the National Community Pharmacists Association as a Medicare-endorsed prescription drug plan, or PDP, in collaboration with MemberHealth and Computer Sciences Corp. The PDP encourages retail pharmacists across the country to enroll qualifying Medicare patients in MTM, and to use a Web-based clinical management system called MirixaPro to deliver patient education and intervention services.

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Kerry, Gingrich champion electronic prescribing efforts

BY DSN STAFF

WASHINGTON

That much was clear at a high-profile Capitol Hill press event March 4, when former political adversaries joined forces in a multifront campaign to spur the nationwide adoption of electronic prescribing and health information technology.

On hand at the event were Massachusetts senator and former Democratic presidential contender John Kerry and former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and Republican firebrand Newt Gingrich, who in recent years has staked his reputation on overhauling the U.S. healthcare system.

The two political leaders appeared at a press conference to announce the third annual Safe-Rx Awards presented by e-prescribing platform provider SureScripts and its two founding organizations, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the National Community Pharmacists Association. The top award, which honors the state that has done the most over the past year to promote e-prescribing, went this year to Massachusetts.

The Bay State ranks first in the nation when it comes to transmitting prescriptions electronically, according to the results of a nationwide audit. Physicians in Massachusetts transmitted more than 4 million scripts electronically in 2007, or 13.4 percent of the state total, according to SureScripts president and chief executive officer Rick Ratliff, who hosted the event with Gingrich.

“I am thrilled to receive this award on behalf of my state and its care providers, and it is with their tireless work in mind that I will fight to pass the electronic prescribing legislation I have introduced in the Senate,” said Kerry, who accepted the award.

In December, Kerry and Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., led a bipartisan effort to introduce the Medicare Electronic Medication and Safety Protection Act in Congress. The so-called E-MEDS bill, if passed, would reimburse doctors for investing in e-prescribing technology, along with incentive payments each time a script is transmitted electronically and the claim is submitted through Medicare.

“We should all be encouraging our physicians to use this kind of practical technology to protect their patients,” Gingrich said.

The transition won’t be easy, Gingrich acknowledged. Unless there’s a hand-holder or a ‘coach,’ it’s dramatically harder for people to take general policy and translate it into personal behavior.”

Rounding out this year’s top e-prescribing states were Rhode Island, Nevada, Delaware, Michigan, Maryland, North Carolina, Arizona, Connecticut and Washington. Also honored was Health and Human Services secretary Michael Leavitt, who received the “Safe-Rx Evangelist Award” for his efforts to link e-prescribing to Medicare reimbursements. Leavitt also has proposed that Congress require doctors to use paperless prescribing to qualify for higher Medicare compensation rates.

The press conference also served to announce the launch of a new, Web-based program to help more physicians through the e-prescribing process. Five physician groups joined forces to launch www.GetRxConnected.com, which gives doctors a step-by-step process to move away from paper prescribing.

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