Diabetes ‘challenge’ yields health savings
WASHINGTON —Retail pharmacists working with the cooperation of local employer-based health plan sponsors can dramatically reduce the costs of diabetic health care, a major, multi-year demonstration project has found. The result, said project leaders, could be profound changes in the U.S. healthcare delivery model.
Results of the Diabetes Ten City Challenge, released April 6 by the American Pharmacists Association Foundation, show clearly that the intervention and counseling of diabetes patients by trained pharmacists can have a measurable impact on the health costs those patients incur over an extended time period. Buoyed by the results of the long-term demonstration project, APhA will publish the results in a peer-reviewed article in the May/June issue of the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association.
Data gathered by project leaders show that average total healthcare costs were reduced by $1,079 per patient per year, compared with projected costs if the Ten City Challenge program had not been implemented, according to APhA.
The APhA Foundation launched the Ten City Challenge in 10 U.S. communities in 2005, with support from GlaxoSmithKline. The program was coordinated by HealthMapRx—a partnership of the APhA Foundation and Mirixa Corp. that offers incentive programs to encourage patients with chronic conditions to better manage their conditions. The HealthMapRx programs match patients to community pharmacist “coaches” who provide hands-on education, monitoring and evaluation of health improvements.
The goal of the Ten City Challenge, according to APhA, “was to fundamentally change the way chronic disease is managed and paid for through a value-based benefit design model” that would “align incentives for all stakeholders,” including employer-sponsored health plans.
The results of that effort took a long time to compile and evaluate. But the benefits arising from a regular series of patient interventions by pharmacists participating in the diabetes project were clear and profound.
“Aggregate data for 573 participants, who were in the program for an average of 14.8 months, show patients saved an average of $593 per year on their diabetes medications and supplies,” APhA reported.
The program also demonstrated improvements in key clinical measures, according to the group. Among the gains: a 23% increase in the number of participants achieving goals set by the American Diabetes Association; an 11% increase in the number of participants achieving National Cholesterol Education Program goals; and a 39% increase in the number of participants with a combined diastolic/systolic blood pressure goal achievement of 130/80.
“The Diabetes Ten City Challenge demonstrated the power of partnership and the impact of putting patients at the center of their own care,” said Toni Fera, director of patient self-management programs for HealthMapRx and lead author of the report.
Kroger to serve as exclusive supermarket sponsor of Fiesta Atlanta ’09
ATLANTA Kroger will serve as the exclusive supermarket sponsor of Fiesta Atlanta ’09, an outdoor Cinco de Mayo festival celebrating Latino culture, music and food.
Fiesta Atlanta ’09 takes place on Sunday, May 3 at Centennial Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta. For Kroger, the partnership represents the company’s commitment to the Hispanic community.
“We are very excited and looking forward to Fiesta Atlanta,” said Glynn Jenkins, director of communications and public relations for Kroger’s Atlanta Division. “Kroger has always made exceptional efforts to serve the Hispanic community and joining this celebration is another commitment to our Hispanic customers.”
Atlanta’s largest Hispanic outdoor family festival, Fiesta Atlanta attracted over 40,000 attendees last year. This year’s event will once again feature authentic food from many Latin-American countries, arts and crafts, sponsor displays with many free product samples and continuous live musical performances by national and local recording artists.
AARP cites big jump in Rx prices
NEW YORK A report by AARP indicated that prices for branded drugs have increased at a rate outpacing the rate of inflation by more than six percentage points.
The report found that manufacturers’ prices for branded drugs increased by 9% last year, compared with the general inflation rate of 3.8%. Meanwhile, prices of generic drugs decreased, on average, by 10.6%.
Generic drugs have already grown significantly over the years, accounting for 69% of all prescriptions dispensed in the United States, but 16% of money spent on prescriptions, according to IMS Health. In 2007, according to the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the average price of a generic prescription drug was $34.34, compared to $119.51 for a branded drug.
Price increases for branded drugs significantly higher than the overall rate of inflation, mixed with the recession, are likely to drive more consumers to generics. According to AARP, nearly a quarter of all older Americans skip medication doses because of the cost, while other studies have shown that many Americans facing economic hardship don’t have prescriptions filled at all.
At the same time, many branded pharmaceutical drugs – not to mention biologics – don’t yet have a generic version. This could create difficulties for elderly and other patients who may be able switch to medications that are cheaper, but different from what they take, or who take biologic drugs or newer drugs that have no equivalent on the market.
The Generic Pharmaceutical Association said the report indicated that generic medicines are “the right choice for better health.”
“During these difficult economic times, it is truly disturbing to hear reports that our nation’s seniors cannot afford their prescription drug costs,” GPhA president and CEO Kathleen Jaeger said in a statement responding to the report. “No one should be forced to choose between putting food on their table and paying for needed medicines.”
Jaeger also said the report illustrated the need for a regulatory pathway for biosimilars.
“It’s time to do right by our seniors and all Americans struggling with healthcare costs by approving legislation that brings safe, effective and affordable biogeneric medicines to patients sooner rather than later,” Jaeger said. “GPhA also strongly believes that increasing funding for FDA would ensure the more timely approval of generic medicines, increasing the opportunity for consumers to save immediately.”