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CVS Caremark: Patients believe specialty pharmacy team encourages medication adherence

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. Many pharmacy patients believe that their specialty pharmacy team plays an important role in encouraging them to take their specialty medications as prescribed, according to the results of a recent CVS Caremark study.

The telephone survey, which was completed in August 2009 and included responses from more than 700 respondents, found that nearly 70% of respondents believe their specialty pharmacy team instrumental in encouraging medication adherence. The findings place the specialty pharmacy team at the forefront of managing adherence for these patients, behind only the patient’s physician and his/her staff and the patient’s friends and family in terms of influence.

Specialty pharmaceuticals are typically injectable or infused drugs requiring special handling and used in the management of chronic, rare and complex conditions such as multiple sclerosis or rheumatoid arthritis. Because these medications are often expensive, generally require special handling, require training for proper administration and can cause bothersome side effects, patients can face many barriers to medication adherence and persistency.

“Our patients’ belief that their specialty pharmacy team plays a key role in adherence, along with results showing that 93.5% of patients indicated that they were satisfied with CVS Caremark specialty pharmacy services, clearly validate the benefits of the patient-focused, high-touch services we provide,” stated Scott Reid, SVP of CVS Caremark specialty pharmacy operations. “This support begins when a patient first enrolls with CVS Caremark specialty pharmacy, and is assigned a pharmacist-led care team that provides personalized care and therapy management including ongoing counseling, education and adherence management.”

While the survey found that the vast majority of patients surveyed indicated that they take their specialty medications as prescribed (97%) and believe that taking their medications as prescribed is important to maintain their quality of life (96%), patients still identified a variety of factors that impacted their medication adherence, including: cost/state of the economy (32%), changes to the patient’s schedule or routine (19%) and side effects (12%). In addition, while results varied depending on the therapies prescribed, those respondents taking a medication for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis or multiple sclerosis who agreed that their specialty pharmacy team and/or specialty pharmacist is important in encouraging them to take their medications as prescribed were 35.9% less likely to stop therapy than those who did not recognize the role of the specialty pharmacy.

CVS Caremark specialty pharmacy care yeams are comprised of pharmacists and pharmacy service representatives. These professionals are focused on the treatment of a particular condition and undergo training and education related to their therapeutic area. This team works directly with the patient at the start of therapy to coordinate a comprehensive overview, including: review of dosing and medication schedules, discussion of side effects and how to manage or alleviate them, review of potential drug/drug or drug/food interactions, assessment of the patient’s ability to self-administer medication and identification of potential barriers to care. The care team reinforces the physician’s instructions to make sure the patient safely and effectively administers their prescribed medication. In addition, the team also works to positively impact patient adherence by proactively calling patients to identify gaps in adherence to their regimen. When indicated, care team members will use strategies and tactics to encourage and enable their patient to return to their prescribed regimen, and will also communicate with the patient’s physician to discuss an appropriate course of action.

The Olinger Group, an external market research firm, conducted the survey. Survey participants were randomly selected and represented patients on three drug classes, including human growth hormone, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.

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Pushing through stunted sales with Rx, health

BY Alaric DeArment

For many years, Kmart has played second or even third fiddle to fellow nationwide mass-merchandise chains Target and Walmart, despite once having been the monarch of mass merchandising in the United States.

The chain was a relative bright spot amid the woes of parent company Sears Holdings in 2009, as comparable-store sales increased by 1.7% in the fourth quarter. But Kmart still had its share of problems, largely due to the economic recession. In the second, third and fourth quarters of fiscal 2009, Sears Holdings announced the closures of 43 Kmart stores. The company also announced that it would shut down five Sears Essentials and Sears Grand stores. Sears Essentials is a mass-merchandise pharmacy concept similar to Kmart, while Sears Grand combines the mass-merchandise aspects of Sears Essentials and Kmart with the traditional Sears department store format.

For the year, revenues for merchandise sales and services for Kmart were $15.7 billion, compared with $16.2 billion in 2008. Sales for Sears Holdings were $44 billion, compared with $46.8 billion in 2008. Sears Holdings’ fourth-quarter 2009 profits were $430 million, compared with $190 million in fourth-quarter 2008, while profits for the year were $235 million, compared with $53 million in 2008. The smaller full-year numbers were due to large quarterly losses in 2008 and 2009 that offset profits for the years as a whole. The company said Kmart’s gains largely were driven by increased sales in toys and home products, but were offset by declines in clothing sales.

KMART

Headquarters: Hoffman Estates, III. 2009 sales: $15.7 billion % change vs. 2008: -3%No. of stores: 1,327No. of stores with Rx: 1,021Avg. store size: 93,000 sq. ft.Rx sales: $2.5 billion% of sales from Rx: 16%Sales per store: $11.8 million

Source: Company reports, Drug Store News

But despite its problems in the sales arena, Kmart has created several health and pharmacy initiatives at its stores. In May 2009, the store in Rehoboth Beach, Del., opened the chain’s first retail clinic under a partnership with the Beebe Health Center. The clinic includes two exam rooms and is staffed by a nurse practitioner, as well as an on-call physician. In June 2009, the chain introduced the Smart Assist Savings Card for unemployed residents in Michigan, providing discounts of 20% on more than 1,200 private-label pharmacy and grocery products for up to six months. And in July 2009, Kmart launched a prescription drug savings club, charging a $10 enrollment fee for eligible members in exchange for $10 gift cards and $100 gift cards for customers who transferred four prescriptions to the store.

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Supermarket shows Rx southern hospitality

BY Mike Duff

The 151-unit Brookshire Grocery chain added and upgraded pharmacy operations at stores throughout its market area in 2009. Among its initiatives, which also included informational health-and-wellness expos, the chain added a free antibiotic and discount generic drug program last year.

“Our generic program includes more than 400 drugs,” company spokesman Sam Lanier noted. “We have 30-, 60- and 90-day supplies—based on usual day’s supply—for $3.99, $6.99 and $9.99, respectively. There are about 50 entries on our Free Antibiotics Program, which includes varying strengths of about a dozen or so antibiotics.”

In early October 2009, Brookshire opened up a brand new, 31,000-sq.-ft. store in Seagoville, Texas, that provided enough space for a pharmacy operation. A few weeks later, Brookshire celebrated a grand reopening of its store in Forney, Texas. Beyond an additional 2,200 sq. ft., the store also gained an upgraded pharmacy drive-through.

In June 2009, Brookshire debuted a newly remodeled 62,000-sq.-ft. Super 1 Foods store in Lafayette, La., offering an expanded pharmacy relocated to the front of the store. The new configuration provided for a wider selection of health-and-beauty products, and established sections devoted to diabetes, sleep and therapeutic aids and supplies. It also added drop-off and checkout areas to pharmacy; additional office space for health services and consultations; and durable medical equipment, a category not often offered in supermarket pharmacies.

In January 2009, the company renovated a 38,500-sq.-ft. store in Shreveport, expanding the pharmacy operation and adding a drive-through.

Brookshire’s commitment to expanding pharmacy was evident in the launch of a new concept store—Fresh by Brookshire’s, a 55,000-sq.-ft. supermarket, opened in south Tyler, Texas, on Feb. 16. The new format was developed for shoppers with a taste for gourmet food, but also houses an expansive selection of wellness items and a full-line pharmacy.

BROOKSHIRE GROCERY

Headquarters: Tyler, Texas2009 sales: $2.12 billion% change vs. 2008: -3.6%No. of stores: 151No. of stores with Rx: 112Avg. store size: 40,000 sq. ft.Rx sales: $296.8 million% of sales from Rx: 14.0%Sales per store: $14 millionSource: Company reports

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