PHARMACY

DOD expands pharmacy’s role in vaccinating TRICARE beneficiaries

BY Antoinette Alexander

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The U.S. Department of Defense has issued a final rule that, effective Aug. 12, expands the scope of retail pharmacy-provided vaccination services in the TRICARE military healthcare program for the nation’s military, retirees and their families.
 
Under the DOD’s interim final rule, released on Dec. 10, 2009, retail network pharmacies first were recognized as providers and were authorized to administer the H1N1, seasonal influenza and pneumococcal vaccines to TRICARE patients. For the first six months following publication of that interim final rule, more than 18,000 vaccines were administered in pharmacies. The DOD estimated that more than $1.5 million was saved by administering these vaccines through the pharmacy, rather than the medical, benefit.

The newly released final rule complements the interim final rule and further authorizes retail pharmacies to administer all vaccinations covered under the DOD’s preventive care program, as permitted by state law. And similar to the interim rule, the final rule also waives all co-pays for TRICARE beneficiaries who obtain vaccination services from network pharmacies.

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores on Thursday applauded the issuance of the final rule. “We applaud the Department of Defense for expanding retail pharmacy’s role in administering vaccinations for TRICARE beneficiaries,” stated NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson. “Pharmacy-provided vaccinations are important preventive healthcare services, which can help prevent the spread of disease, improve patient health and reduce healthcare costs over the long term.”

“As the face of neighborhood health care, pharmacy is committed to improving patient health and reducing costs one patient-pharmacist interaction at a time,” Anderson added. “TRICARE’s recognition of pharmacy’s value further illustrates the critical role of pharmacy in public health and the healthcare delivery system."

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Merck partners with universities to research ways to eradicate HIV

BY Alaric DeArment

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. — A team comprised of scientists from drug maker Merck and several U.S. universities will look for ways to eradicate HIV, Merck said.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill announced that researchers at nine universities and Merck scientists would study HIV latency and find ways to purge persistent infection of the virus from the body. In addition, the University of California San Francisco would organize an international team of academic, governmental and Merck scientists to work on a five-year research effort to define and better understand HIV’s reservoirs and test potential treatments.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, will be the main funding organization for both research efforts, though Merck will not receive any funding for its participation.

“Collaboration has been the hallmark of much of the progress made against HIV since the virus was first identified 30 years ago,” Merck Research Labs VP Daria Hazuda said. “Continued collaboration is absolutely essential to better understand HIV reservoirs and identify potential approaches to the daunting challenges of eradicating HIV.”

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American Pharmacists Association seeking nominations for annual practitioner and scientific awards

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — The American Pharmacists Association is seeking nominations for its annual practitioner and scientific awards and honors, the organization said Wednesday.

The APhA said it would present the winners at the annual APhA Annual Meeting and Exposition in New Orleans next March. The APhA Academy of Pharmacy Practice and Management administers the practitioner awards and honors, while the APhA Academy of Pharmaceutical Research and Science administers the scientific awards and honors. The deadline for submissions is Sept. 15.

Nomination guidelines, forms and criteria are available at Pharmacist.com/awards.

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