PHARMACY

Coalition of pharmacy, health groups urges Congress to address compliance

BY Jim Frederick

WASHINGTON Pointing out that “one-third to one-half of patients in the United States do not take their medications as prescribed,” a broad coalition of 27 healthcare organizations is appealing to lawmakers to tackle the stubborn problem of patient noncompliance in health-reform proposals now advancing in Congress.

In a letter to all members of the House and Senate, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the National Community Pharmacists Association, the American Pharmacists Association and 24 other groups on Tuesday urged lawmakers to include measures to address medication adherence in whatever bill emerges from the ongoing debate over health reform. Such measures are “critical to achieving improved healthcare quality and value,” the coalition noted.

“Costs resulting from nonadherence may be as high as $100 to $300 billion annually,” the coalition told members of Congress. “Research also shows that many patients face multiple barriers to taking their medications as directed.

“As such, addressing the problem will require multifaceted strategies and involve a diverse group of stakeholders,” the letter continued. “Doing so is a win-win … better health outcomes for patients and cost savings.”

The coalition urged lawmakers to incorporate five recommendations in legislation to improve patient adherence levels. They include:

  • An explicit recognition of the “critical” importance of medication adherence and “appropriate medication use” in any legislation to improve health care and clinical outcomes
  • Language to encourage greater coordination among all health providers “to engage the patient and other caregivers in developing and executing the care plan” for patients, particularly in light of “the important role that medications play in treating and managing illnesses”
  • Provisions to foster the rapid adoption of health information technology, to “improve the flow of timely and complete information between patients and providers, and enable providers and payers to identify and address gaps in patients’ medication use”
  • New programs to educate and engage patients in their own drug regimens, and “to help them better understand their conditions and treatments. These efforts also must support providers in effectively communicating the importance of following treatment plans, and in providing medication support services to patients and caregivers.”
  • Funding additional research on drug adherence, “including a focus on the effectiveness of a wider range of interventions to improve adherence, as well as an analysis of the diverse factors, behaviors, costs and consequences related to poor adherence.”

Among the other organizations that signed onto the initiative were the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy, the American Academy of Nursing, the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, the Food Marketing Institute, the Generic Pharmaceutical Association, the National Consumers League and the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America.

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PHARMACY

FDA approves fifth H1N1 vaccine

BY Michael Johnsen

ROCKVILLE, Md. The Food and Drug Administration on Monday announced that it has approved a fifth vaccine for protection against the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus, this one manufactured by ID Biomedical of Quebec, Canada, which is owned by GlaxoSmithKline.

As with the four previous H1N1 influenza vaccines licensed by the FDA on Sept. 15, ID Biomedical Corp. will manufacture its H1N1 vaccine using the established, licensed egg-based manufacturing process used for producing seasonal flu vaccine.

ID Biomedical’s H1N1 monovalent vaccine will be produced in multidose vials, in a formulation that contains thimerosal.

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PCMA responds to drug price increase

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON An article in The New York Times reporting that drug companies have dramatically increased the prices of drugs despite a decrease in the Consumer Price Index has prompted calls for biosimilars reform from an organization representing the nation’s pharmacy benefit managers.

The Pharmaceutical Care Management Association said that policy-makers should focus on creating a regulatory approval pathway for biosimilars instead of “shell games” to lower prescription drug costs. “Increased choice and competition generated by pharmacy benefit managers has been pivotal in driving prescription-drug trend to historic lows, while expanding consumers’ access to drug and pharmacy choices,” a statement by PCMA read.

The Times reported Sunday that while drug companies have promised to lower overall drug prices by $8 billion, wholesale prices of branded drugs increased by 9%, while the Consumer Price Index decreased by 1.3%.

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America criticized the article Monday, saying that drug companies determined drug prices independently based on such considerations as patent expirations and research and development costs, and that many PhRMA member companies had experienced flat or negative sales growth.

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