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Coalition urges Congress to tackle drug adherence

BY Jim Frederick

WASHINGTON —The campaign by pharmacy and healthcare advocates to boost Americans’ abysmal medication compliance rate gained new voltage in mid-November with a direct and urgent appeal to every member of Congress by a broad coalition of 27 large-scale healthcare organizations.

Among the groups calling for legislation to attack the noncompliance crisis were the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the National Community Pharmacists Association, the American Pharmacists Association and the Food Marketing Institute. Those organizations—along with 23 others—cosigned a letter delivered to all members of the House and Senate Nov. 17.

Also participating were the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy, the American Academy of Nursing, the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, the Generic Pharmaceutical Association, the National Consumers League and the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America, among other groups and corporations. Together, they painted a stark picture of the costs of medication nonadherence, both in terms of the physical toll it takes on patients and the financial drain it places on the U.S. economy.

Pointing out that “one-third to one-half of patients in the United States do not take their medications as prescribed,” the coalition appealed to lawmakers to tackle the stubborn problem of patient noncompliance in health-reform proposals advancing in Congress at press time. The goal: to include measures to address the problem 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;” and

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.”

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Hy-Vee names new president

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Edeker had previously served as EVP and COO.

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Tricare expands vaccination coverage to pharmacies, clinics

BY DSN STAFF

NEW YORK Convenience and value. That’s what community pharmacy and their retail clinic partners deliver to their patients. And that’s what the Department of Defense is counting on in covering immunizations at local pharmacies and identifying convenient care clinics as network providers — two separate pieces of news issued within the past month that really underscore the importance of pharmacies and retail clinics in the delivery of health care today.

Prior to these announcements, military personnel interested in getting their flu shots had to schedule an appointment with their doctor, as Tricare only covered the cost of shots delivered in a doctor’s office.

“As a convenient and accessible healthcare provider, pharmacy is uniquely positioned to offer services for patients, such as vaccinations,” stated Steve Anderson, president and CEO for the National Association of Chain Drug Stores. Anderson noted that as of earlier this year, pharmacists have the ability to immunize patients in all 50 states. “[This] presents an important opportunity for pharmacists to counsel patients during their visit, and an additional healthcare provider from which to obtain these vaccinations.”

It’s also quite a bit of opportunity for pharmacy — Tricare provides healthcare coverage for 9.5 million eligible beneficiaries. Those beneficiaries pick up almost 2.3 million prescriptions every week, and 1.2 million of those at retail pharmacies, according to Tricare .

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