PHARMACY

Consumers surpass physicians in reporting adverse events

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK Between 1998 and 2006, the number of adverse event reports filed by consumers and doctors reversed, according to Food and Drug Administration data.

Physicians reported 48,314 adverse events in 1998, compared with 23,691 reported by consumers. In 2006, however, consumers reported 127,475, compared with 113,444 reported by physicians. The trend continued into the next year as well: 174,216 from consumers and 121,000 from physicians.

There are, however, problems with analyzing the reports. A major issue is that some reports don’t have the name of the person filing on the form. Another is that some reports have multiple people filing. Nevertheless, the reversals represent a possible increase in consumers’ awareness of drug safety issues, especially in light of high-profile incidents such as the recall of Merck’s Vioxx and safety concerns about GlaxoSmithKline’s Avandia.

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Microsoft, TriZetto offer insurance self-management tool for consumers

BY Drew Buono

NEWPORT, Calif. The TriZetto Group has announced an agreement with Microsoft under which TriZetto will develop a connector for its payer customers that enables members of health plans to use TriZetto’s Member Benefit Profile application with Microsoft’s HealthVault.

The Member Benefit Profile software gives plan members a Web-based, personalized healthcare financial statement. A display summarizes information about health status, medical treatments, insurance claims, remaining deductibles, status of pre-authorizations, reimbursements and medical account fund balances, available online or as a hard-copy. HealthVault is a secure Web-based platform that helps patients collect, store and share health information with family members and participating healthcare providers. It brings together third-party applications and tools that enable individuals to manage their fitness, diet and health.

“This agreement is another example of our commitment to enabling Integrated Healthcare Management, the systematic application of processes and shared information to optimize the coordination of benefits and care for the consumer,” said Jeff Hensley, chief technology officer at TriZetto. “With IHM, we empower consumers with tools to take a more active role in managing their own health and care through access to information. The connector between the Member Benefit Profile software and HealthVault will provide improved portability of information for consumers, as well as provide a health information portability solution for payers that will enhance their ability to serve employer groups.”

TriZetto will make the connector between the Member Benefit Profile application and HealthVault available to its payer customers later this year.

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NACDS commends Sen. for credit card legislation

BY Drew Buono

ALEXANDRIA, Va. Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin, D-Ill., recently introduced legislation to address excessive fees imposed by credit card companies for retail transactions. As a result, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores has commended the senator on his work.

The association went on to say that excessive “interchange” fees for credit card transactions increase costs for retailers and lead to higher prices for consumers. Because of the market power held by major credit card companies, merchants are currently unable to negotiate fair fees. Sen. Durbin’s bill, the Credit Card Fair Fee Act of 2008 (S. 3086), would ensure that interchange fees are set in open negotiations between retailers and credit card companies, helping to level the playing field for merchants and the customers they serve.

This bill mirrors H.R. 5546, which was recently introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by House Judiciary chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., and Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah.

“Pharmacy is a low margin business,” said NACDS president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson. “Money that we are forced to pay credit card companies for excessive interchange fees cannot be devoted to helping consumers lower their prescription drug costs, assisting patients with medication management or other pharmacy services they need. We are very pleased that both the House and Senate have recognized the need for this legislation, and we thank Sen. Durbin for his leadership in the Senate.”

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