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ECRM CEO and founder Charlie Bowlus leaves behind important legacy

BY Antoinette Alexander

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — There’s no doubt that the industry is still coming to terms with the unexpected passing of ECRM CEO and founder Charlie Bowlus — a longtime industry veteran whose passion and humility touched so many lives.

(THE NEWS: ECRM founder, CEO Charlie Bowlus passes away. For the full story, click here)

Commenting on the news, Pepsom Group president John Brown III wrote on DrugStoreNews.com: “Charlie was a first-class person, in every sense of the word. Ever since I first met him, he has always been innovative, positive-minded and generous with heart and soul. I was blessed to have known him for many years, when ECRM was not even a blip on the radar. We send our sincerest condolences to his family, and to the entire ECRM staff. I know he will always remain a legend in the retail industry and beyond, but more importantly, everyone will always keep fond memories of Charlie, the friend, father, mentor, in our hearts. Thanks for spending time with all of us, Charlie, we will miss you.”

“… Charlie, you were a true friend and a comrade in arms and I only hope that you have the opportunity to have as many parties in Heaven as you held here. You were a pioneer and you never forgot where you came from. You touched the bottom and you went to the top and everything you got, you earned and then some. You never forgot your friends wherever you met them …” wrote Gregory Rubin, Garcoa Labs CEO.

“… I often think of Charlie as the reason I am blessed to have my three boys and wonderful wife who I met at an ECRM show. I always thanked Charlie every time I saw him as if it wasn’t for him our family wouldn’t exist. Charlie, you will be extremely missed and we are thankful for the lives you have touched. I will continue to think of you as my children grow, remembering you are who helped put them in my life,” wrote Jeff Stice, Olympic Mountain Products president.

These are just a few of the many comments. Clearly, the number of people who commented just within 24 hours of the sad news is a reflection of the important legacy Bowlus leaves behind.

Those who would like to share their thoughts and express their condolences are encouraged to comment via Facebook, post a comment on DrugStoreNews.com or send an email to reder@lf.com.

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Report: Appellate court strikes down insurance mandate in health law

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK—The healthcare-reform law took a hit Friday when a federal court in Atlanta ruled one of its key provisions unconstitutional, according to published reports.

The Wall Street Journal reported that in a 2-1 ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit found the law’s mandate for individuals to buy health insurance or face penalties to violate the Constitution because it represented a "wholly novel and potentially unbounded assertion of congressional authority." Judges Frank Hull, a Clinton administration appointee, and Joel Dubina, appointed by George H.W. Bush, wrote the 207-page opinion.

Twenty-six mostly Republican governors and attorneys general, the National Federation of Independent Businesses and two individuals had filed the suit. The appeals court upheld the portion of an earlier ruling by U.S. district judge Roger Vinson of Florida that overturned the insurance mandate, but kept the rest of law. Vinson had ruled the entire law unconstitutional.

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Study examines impact of voluntary, mandatory mail on medication adherence

BY Antoinette Alexander

NEW YORK — Mandatory mail seems to cause some patients to prematurely discontinue therapy, especially among those patients without previous mail-service pharmacy experience. At least, that’s what a recent study on mandatory mail suggested.

The CVS Caremark-funded study, “Adherence to Medication Under Mandatory and Voluntary Mail Benefit Designs,” recently was published in the American Journal of Managed Care.

It is no secret that a challenge in designing pharmacy benefits is to find the ideal balance between access to essential medications and cost management. It is a balancing act that is becoming increasingly difficult and, in an effort to help curb costs, employers increasingly are offering a mail-service option. According to the study, in 2010, nearly 96% of all employers offered mail pharmacy services to their employees. The majority of plan sponsors offer voluntary mail, while nearly 19% of employers implemented mandatory mail.

However, the impact on adherence rates under voluntary and mandatory mail benefit designs remains murky. The study — which focused on adherence rates in the first year of therapy — aimed to help clear the waters.

The study examined seven therapeutic classes for either anti-diabetic or cardiovascular therapies. The data came from employer-sponsored pharmacy insurance plans that offered either mandatory or voluntary mail pharmacy benefits managed by CVS Caremark between July 1, 2008, and March 31, 2010.

“Participants with a mandatory mail pharmacy benefit design were less likely to remain persistent during the first year of therapy. Most impacted were those who had no previous mail use and thus were most likely to have been unfamiliar with the requirements of mandatory mail,” the authors wrote. Some of the authors are current or former employees of CVS Caremark.
 
According to the results, persistence rates were similar through the first 60 days of therapy; however, the mandatory mail cohort experienced a “notable” drop in persistence by the 90th day of therapy.

“The lower persistence in the mandatory mail cohort beginning between days 60 and 90 indicates potential barriers to access during the period of time when the prescription must be transferred from a retail pharmacy to a mail-service pharmacy,” the authors wrote. “The substantial drop in adherence occurring at this transition point suggests an important target for improved processes at mail-service and retail pharmacies to facilitate transitions between distribution channels — a transition that can require several steps.”

Several key takeaway points:

  • By restricting pharmacy choice and access, mandatory mail appeared to cause some members to prematurely discontinue therapy;

  • When members chose to discontinue, rather than switch pharmacy channels, the unintended consequence was a reduction in medication adherence and the potential for increased medical expenses; and

  • Individuals without previous use of mail-service pharmacy are particularly sensitive to this plan design and are an important population to target for interventions to support adherence.

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