PHARMACY

Consumers unsure of how U.S. healthcare system works, survey finds

BY Antoinette Alexander

WASHINGTON Despite widespread media coverage on healthcare reform, political debates and legislative initiatives over the past year, many consumers still do not understand how the healthcare system works, according to the 3rd Annual Deloitte Center for Health Solutions Survey of Health Care Consumers.

The survey also found that, despite suffering from chronic conditions and often not participating in a wellness program, many consumers still perceive themselves as healthy — a problem that will continue to challenge the healthcare system.

"In a year marked by historic debate over the future of the healthcare system, our survey indicates that not much has changed from 2009 to 2010 in terms of consumers’ understanding and perceptions of the system," stated Paul Keckley, executive director of the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions.

 

The Web-based questionnaire of 4,008 U.S. consumers ages 18 years and older was conducted between Dec. 28, 2009 and Jan. 5, 2010.

 

According to the survey, 23% of respondents said they understand how the healthcare system works, but 76% grade the system a "C" or below and nearly half (48%) believe that 50% or more of healthcare dollars are wasted.

More than half (57%) of consumers surveyed said they are satisfied with their health plan, yet 46% said they understand their health insurance coverage. One-in-four do not know how much they are paying for health insurance.

 

The survey also identified a variety of contradictions concerning consumers’ perceptions, attitudes and behaviors about their healthcare decisions and personal health status.

 

 

For example, 88% of consumers surveyed said they believe they are in "excellent," "very good" or "good" health, yet 54% have been diagnosed with one or more chronic conditions and, of the 56% who take prescription medications, nearly half (47%) take three or more daily. In addition, only one-in-five surveyed said they participate in a wellness program.

 

 

Additional survey findings include:

  • Fifteen percent of consumers said they used a retail-based clinic in the past 12 months
  • More than one-third (34%) of consumers said they are likely to use a retail clinic if it cost 50% or less than a doctor’s visit, compared with 30% of consumers who indicated they would do likewise in 2009
  • Confidence in prescription medications remains high and unchanged from 2009 survey results — 3-out-of-4 are confident that the medications they take are effective
  • Sixty-seven percent of consumers indicated that they would choose a generic medication over a brand name drug if given a choice, a slight decrease from 2009 (71%)
  • Fourteen percent said they delayed or forewent treatment recommended by a doctor or medical professional.

 

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NACDS names Guckian state affairs chief

BY Jim Frederick

ALEXANDRIA, Va. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores has named Sandra Kay Guckian, a pharmacy and policy veteran of the organization, as VP state government affairs.

Guckian, nee Sandra Jung, will oversee the work of five state government affairs directors based in regions throughout the U.S., as well as an administrative assistant based at NACDS headquarters. She reports directly to Carol Kelly, NACDS’ SVP government affairs and public policy.

In addition to leading the state government affairs team, Guckian manages state-level legislative and regulatory advocacy in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

Guckian replaces Gary Wirth, who has left the association to pursue other interests, according to NACDS spokesperson Chrissy Kopple. The appointment is effective immediately.

Guckian is one of the longest-serving members of NACDS’ management team, and last served as VP and deputy director of state government affairs. NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson called her promotion “the latest step in the transformation of NACDS to maximize its strategic focus and effectiveness.

“In her 13 years at NACDS, Sandra has established a reputation as a member-focused, highly substantive and strategically oriented leader who is absolutely passionate about pharmacy,” said Anderson. “Sandra is well equipped to work collaboratively with NACDS member company representatives, with state association partners, and with her dedicated colleagues on the state government affairs team and throughout NACDS to help advance pharmacy at all levels of government for the ultimate benefit of patient care.”

Guckian earned her B.S. in Pharmacy and M.S. in Pharmacy from The University of Texas at Austin College of Pharmacy, and completed an accredited residency at Parkland Memorial Hospital.  She has practiced as a pharmacist in a variety of settings including community retail pharmacy, hospital pharmacy and home health care practice.

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FDA: Certain prostate cancer drugs may cause other health problems

BY Alaric DeArment

SILVER SPRING, Md. The Food and Drug Administration is investigating a possible link between drugs commonly used to treat prostate cancer and a risk of serious health problems, the agency said Monday.

The FDA said it was conducting a safety review of gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists, saying they have been associated with a “small increased risk” for diabetes, heart attack, stroke and sudden death. The agency is suggesting that healthcare professionals monitor men using the drugs, but that patients should not stop using them unless directed to do so. It also cautioned that it had not made any conclusions about whether the drugs cause an increase in the risk of developing heart disease and diabetes.

GnRH agonists include such branded drugs as Abbott’s Lupron (leuprolide acetate), Watson’s Trelstar (triptorelin pamoate) and several generic drugs.

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