PHARMACY

DSN, higi crown winner of first-ever Fit Pharmacist Challenge

BY David Salazar

NEW YORK — Because a fit pharmacist is a good pharmacist, Drug Store News, the leading source for news, information and analysis in the multi-billion dollar retail pharmacy industry in both print and online, and higi, a leading omni-channel community health engagement platform, have partnered to create the first-ever Fit Pharmacist Challenge, an online series of fitness-tracking competitions that rewards pharmacists for modeling healthy behavior for their patients, by logging the most miles in a given challenge period.
 
Nearly 600 pharmacists signed up in June to enter the inaugural round of the Fit Pharmacist Challenge series, and Drug Store News and higi are proud to announce that Publix pharmacy manager Marlena Kelly, of Daphne, Ala., was the winner of the first edition of the contest, “walking away” with the top prize — a $500 American Express gift card — for logging more than 50 miles during the month of June. Runners-up Kamala Nola, associate professor and vice chair of pharmacy practice at Lipscomb University College of Pharmacy in Nashville, Tenn.; Crystal Lennartz, Health Mart’s director of clinical development; and Rite Aid pharmacist Michael Kazzaz from Everett, Mass., each logged at least 10 miles during the contest period to qualify for the event.
 
“We are thrilled to partner with higi on this important and ground-breaking new program,” said Drug Store News publisher Wayne Bennett. “A fit pharmacist makes for a good pharmacist, and as pharmacists across the country play a more proactive role in consumer health care, it’s even more important for them to model healthy behavior for their customers.”
 
“Most people know higi for the nearly 10,000 higi health stations installed in retailers across the country,” noted Sheila McCormick, Chief Marketing Officer at higi. “However, we also integrate with over 50 fitness apps and devices, such as Fitbit, Nike+, Garmin, Moves and Jawbone, allowing higi users to seamlessly track and be rewarded for their physical activity across all of these different platforms. The Fit Pharmacist Challenge series is a great way to motivate pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to track and increase their physical activity.”
 
For each of the winners and runners-up of the first-ever Fit Pharmacist Challenge, exercise helps make them better pharmacists, they told Drug Store News, because it helps them focus on their work, and it helps them to better embody the advice they give to their patients. 
 
For top winner Marlena Kelly, staying active is as much about the personal benefits — stress relief and staying healthy — as it is about being an example for her patients. “As a pharmacist, it is important to stay active,” Kelly told Drug Store News. “Being active helps [us] keep up with our sometimes stressful, long schedules while on our feet throughout the day. We can also serve as good role models for our patients. I am currently training for a half-marathon and try to stay active three to five times a week.”
 
Being a role model to patients is especially important for runner-up Kamala Nola. “Since I work with patients who have arthritis, one of the first recommendations I have is to move — be physically active,” she said. “People need to move to improve joint mobility, decrease pain and prevent long-term complications if possible. As a pharmacist, I try to practice what I preach and get my 10,000 steps in everyday if possible.”
 
Despite her busy schedule, exercise also is essential for fellow runner-up Crystal Lennartz — who considers that being active is what you make of it — looks at exercise as a way to help her focus on the needs of Health Mart’s independent pharmacy owners. “I try to do something active every day, but sometimes fitness for me means a family bike ride or completing my first 5K pushing a stroller,” Lennartz said. “When I do exercise alone, it gives me time to think and refocus, which makes me more productive at work and better able to respond to the needs of our customers.”
 
Runner-up Michael Kazzaz also tries to encourage his patients to take charge of their personal fitness. “Being fit results in positive energy, and passing that energy to friends and family. I love pushing others to do the same on a daily basis. Without health, you have nothing,” Kazzaz said.
 
The next Fit Pharmacist Challenge will be held in October. To enter, Entrants must walk — or run — 50 miles or more during any one-month Fit Pharmacist Challenge period, and are entered to win a monthly grand prize of a $500 American Express gift card. Entrants who log at least 10 miles during a given challenge period are entered to win a runner-up prize of a $100 American Express gift card. Winners are selected randomly throughout the month and will be featured in Drug Store News.
 
To learn more, visit DrugStoreNewsCE.com/fit-pharmacist.
 
For all the latest news and analysis on the retail pharmacy industry, go to drugstorenews.com/user/register
 
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Study: Florida’s anti-opioid abuse laws show results

BY David Salazar

BALTIMORE — A study conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has found that Florida’s legislative efforts to curb opioid abuse seem to be having their desired effect. The study was published in JAMA Internal Medicine and looked into the efficacy of Florida’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program and laws aiming to stop pill mills — clinics that dispensed or prescribed opioids recklessly. 
 
Researchers studied a group of 431,890, 296 pharmacies and 2.6 million patients between July 2010 and September 2012 in Florida and Georgia during which time about 7.7% of prescriptions were for opioids. At the outset, Florida’s monthly opioid volume and prescriptions dispensed were higher than Georgia’s. But the laws in Florida created statistically significant drops in the amount of opioids being prescribed and the volume in the state. 
 
A year after Florida’s laws took effect, opioid prescriptions dropped about 1.4%, opioid volume fell 2.4% and there was a 5.6% decrease in the morphine milligram equivalent per transaction. These reductions were highest among patients and prescribers with the highest baseline of opioid use and prescription. 
 
Subscribers to JAMA Internal Medicine can read the entire study here.
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Amneal launches generic Abilify liquid

BY David Salazar

BRIDGEWATER, N.J. — Amneal Pharmaveuticals has announced the launch of its liquid Abilify (aripiprazole) generic. The company is one of the first to launch a generic version of the discontinued Abilify Oral Solution used to treat depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. 
 
“Healthcare providers can now continue prescribing a therapy they are comfortable with and in a form certain patients require,” Amneal EVP sales and marketing Jim Luce said. “It’s a product that would otherwise be unavailable if not for the generic equivalent.” 
 
As of June 2015, aripiprazole oral solution had annual U.S. sales of $62.8 million. Amneal’s liquid aripiprazole is currently shipping in 150-ml bottles direct to the trade and through distributors and wholesalers. 
 
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