PHARMACY

CVS Health expands safe medication disposal program into 750 pharmacies

BY Michael Johnsen

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Health on Wednesday officially introduced the expansion of the company's safe medication disposal program to include locations inside CVS Pharmacy stores, marking the Drug Enforcement Administration's National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Saturday, Oct. 28.

"Solving the opioid crisis will not be easy and it will take the concerted effort of patients, providers, payors, pharmacies, advocacy organizations, elected officials and community leaders," stated Thomas Moriarty, EVP, chief policy and external affairs officer and general counsel, CVS Health. "Our safe medication disposal program is just one of the many initiatives we have undertaken to help prevent opioid abuse and drug addiction in our communities."

The new safe medication disposal kiosks inside 750 CVS Pharmacy locations will add to the more than 800 units CVS Health has donated to law enforcement officials across the country, which have collected more than 100 metric tons of unwanted medication. Properly disposing of unused medications can reduce the risk of misuse, abuse or diversion.

CVS Health is unveiling its first disposal units inside CVS Pharmacy locations in Wilmington, North Carolina and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania this week.

"The opioid crisis is tearing apart families all over North Carolina and this nation," commented Attorney General Josh Stein of North Carolina. "Safely disposing of unneeded medications is an important and simple step we can all take to keep these drugs out of the wrong hands. I applaud and thank CVS for making it easier for us to get rid of these dangerous and highly addictive drugs."

"[As many as] 80% of heroin users start with a legal prescription drug," Attorney General Josh Shapiro of Pennsylvania said. "We appreciate this effort to end diversion of these highly addictive drugs."

Together with law enforcement, CVS Health also continues to underscore the importance of proper medication disposal this week at the Chatham County Sheriff's Office in Savannah, Ga., which has received two medication disposal units from CVS Health.

"The opioid epidemic is one of the greatest public health threats facing our country, one that took the lives of 982 Georgians just last year," said Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr. "It affects every state and has a devastating impact on our communities tearing apart families and stretching the budgets of local law enforcement and first responders as they do the difficult work on the front lines. CVS Health is continuing to find innovative ways to help in this fight, and we are very grateful to have them as a partner in our Drug Take Back efforts in Georgia."

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse of medications. Nearly 100 CVS Pharmacy locations will be among the many sites across the country where law enforcement will hold a one-day event to collect unwanted prescription medication. Patients can find a participating medication return location using this location finder tool.

CVS Health is also working to address and prevent prescription drug abuse by increasing access to the opioid-overdose reversal medication naloxone in 43 states. Additionally, through the company's Pharmacists Teach program, CVS pharmacists have volunteered to educate more than 300,000 students about the dangers of prescription drug abuse.

In September, CVS Health announced an expansion of its enterprise initiatives to fight the opioid abuse epidemic by limiting to seven days the supply of opioids dispensed for certain acute prescriptions for patients who are new to therapy; limiting the daily dosage of opioids dispensed based on the strength of the opioid; and requiring use of immediate-release formulations of opioids before extended release opioids are dispensed.

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Cardinal Health enhances patient support through new ConnectSource platform

BY Michael Johnsen

DUBLIN, Ohio — Cardinal Health Specialty Solutions recently introduced a new cloud-based patient engagement platform called ConnectSource to address an unmet need from the biopharma industry for better insights into the patient experience and treatment journey.

“Clients have consistently told us that while patient data from hub providers is widely available, visibility into bigger picture trends is challenging to access,” stated Jennifer Fillman, VP and general manager specialty services at Cardinal Health Specialty Solutions. “We saw an opportunity to raise the bar on patient services by delivering actionable insights that enable our clients to more effectively engage and influence patients, while also supporting more informed decisions about commercial strategy.”

“Digital engagement is driving opportunity across the health care ecosystem as patients want to be informed and engaged, and life sciences companies want a closer connection to their patients” said David Rosner, principal and digital life sciences leader, Deloitte Consulting. “Patient Connect is empowering life science organizations like Cardinal Health to put patients at the center of the health care ecosystem.”

Approximately half of Cardinal Health’s hub services clients have already migrated their patient services programs to ConnectSource, including several top 10 pharmaceutical companies.

Delivered through Cardinal Heath Sonexus Access and Patient Support, ConnectSource helps enhance patient support programs by streamlining processes such as benefits investigations and prior authorizations to ensure patients get on therapy faster. The new platform also provides transparency into treatment trends and critical issues, such as when patients are falling off therapy, so clients can make smarter decisions about how and when to engage patients and providers. And the offering enables integration with other hub and specialty pharmacy data sources, so clients can gain a 360-degree view of their product.

ConnectSource is Cardinal Health’s implementation of Deloitte Digital’s industry leading software ConvergeHEALTH Patient Connect. Patient Connect enables life sciences companies to provide robust patient services, support and personalized engagement through a flexible cloud software platform. Delivered exclusively as a Salesforce Managed package, Patient Connect provides consistently high-touch patient experiences across channels and enables adherence and care coordination across each patient’s full care network.  

 

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Data as an effective tool to boost medication adherence

Medication adherence remains a major obstacle to saving lives, controlling costs and improving the quality of healthcare.

Statistics show that nearly three of five American adults take at least one daily medication and separate data tell us that from 2000 to 2012, the proportion of people taking five or more prescription medications had doubled.

A recent report, “Adherence and Health Care Cost,” estimated between 20% and 50% of patients are noncompliant with drug therapy. Additionally, poor medication adherence following hospitalization costs the U.S. healthcare system roughly $100 billion annually, according to a New England Journal of Medicine study.

Through their accessibility and relationships with their patients, pharmacists already play a vital role in achieving positive health outcomes such as fewer hospitalizations, less disease progression, and fewer co-morbidities. How could pharmacists use data to improve medication adherence without disrupting their workflow and unnecessarily expending time and resources?

A study showed that while 20% of healthcare outcomes are determined by medical treatment, 50% rely on social determinants. To be more effective, we need to understand all factors involved in medication adherence to help pharmacists gain more insight about the patients they serve.

Part of the solution lies in public records data on patients that focus on social determinants of health categories identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: social and community context, neighborhood and built environment, economic stability and education.

Among these categories alone, there are hundreds of clinically validated attributes that correlate with health outcomes, including medication adherence, prescription costs, hospitalizations, stress and motivation to care for one’s own health. For example, increased community involvement is correlated to more spending on prescriptions — more active in community, more active in one’s own care. Meanwhile, patients living in higher crime areas tend to have lower medication adherence — these patients may avoid leaving home for fear of one’s safety.

These data points — which can be combined into predictive health scores — can help pharmacists prioritize time and resources more efficiently and improve health outcomes for patients.

The socioeconomic information helps fill in the missing pieces in solving the puzzle of medication adherence. It can alert pharmacists to higher-risk patients who may require a more in-depth consultation. Pharmacy chains can use the same data to identify and analyze the level of engagement and resources most appropriate for a particular neighborhood, city, state or region. Access within the workflow to this level of socioeconomic data could help a pharmacist drill down to the individual patient level to determine the likelihood of adherence and can be used to flag specific, more at-risk patients to help better achieve the proper level of care.

Current data being collected for other uses, such as on unfilled prescriptions, could be applied to achieving better medication adherence by cross-checking unclaimed prescriptions with a patient’s socioeconomic information allowing the pharmacist to tailor outreach.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, “Tracking medication adherence through health IT will be a critical advance in giving physicians and other healthcare providers the tools they need to provide better care for their patients.”

Additionally, with the evolution of value-based care initiatives, increasing medication adherence through the analysis of the data at our fingertips is a way to prevent readmissions. This makes it even more important for pharmacies to understand the patient in a holistic way.


Bobbie Riley is the vertical market lead, pharmacy, at LexisNexis Risk Solutions – Health Care; Erin Benson is director of market planning and engagement at LexisNexis Risk Solutions – Health Care; and Bill Frank is senior solutions consultant, LexisNexis Risk Solutions – Health Care.

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