PHARMACY

Flu cards just tip of functioning health-reform iceberg

BY Rob Eder

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — There currently are about 1,200 retail clinics and more than 100,000 certified immunizing pharmacists. Expect those numbers to rise steadily as other employers looks to mimic Citi’s free flu shot card program — and you can bet they will.

(THE NEWS: Citi’s flu care card pushes employers toward lower-cost retail channels. For the full story, click here)

Why? Finally, payers are starting to get it. And that means you can expect some pretty radical changes in the way health care is delivered in the United States.

The reality is that it is cheaper for an employer simply to give its beneficiaries free flu shots administered in a community pharmacy or a retail clinic setting than it is to allow its employees to pick up part of the bill to receive that same shot in a physician’s office. It’s the same vaccine.

According to analysis compiled for Citi by an outside consulting firm, in 2010, the average cost of a flu shot administered to one of its employees in a physician’s office cost about $80. Even if Citi’s employees paid a co-pay of $25 or $30, Citi was stuck with paying $50 or more for a shot that now costs the company about $30 apiece, even if it asks its employees to pay absolutely nothing.

At the end of the day, this is about driving down cost and realigning incentives to put more of a focus on preventive care. Flu shots cut down on absenteeism and reduce the impact of "presentee-ism" (i.e., the massive drain on productivity that occurs when sick employees come to work), which add up to even more critical health-cost savings downstream.

Research has demonstrated that healthy workers who received flu shots reported 43% fewer sick days in the average year versus unvaccinated workers. They also reported 25% fewer cases of upper respiratory infection in a typical cold-flu season. The bottom line: workers who get flu shots save their employers about $46 a year in total healthcare costs. Getting flu shots at pharmacies and retail clinics brings the cost of the flu shot down more than 60%.

That’s the kind of math that is going to make health reform work.

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PHARMACY

Axium, Firma Medical enter ED collaboration

BY Alaric DeArment

LAKE MARY, Fla. A specialty pharmacy provider and a manufacturer will collaborate to provide treatments for erectile dysfunction.

 

Axium Healthcare Pharmacy and Firma Medical announced the partnership Wednesday where by Axium’s erectile dysfunction line of injectable compounded pharmaceuticals will be marketed to Firma’s physician and patient customers around the country. The companies said the deal would give Axium broader distribution while increasing the number of treatment options for Firma’s customers.

 

 

“Axium is pleased to partner with Firma Medical,” Axium EVP Greg Vaughn said. “This partnership shows our commitment in expanding our product offerings for patients with ED.”

 

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Teva Women’s Health discusses emergency contraceptive at symposium

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK Nearly 1 million acts of unprotected sex take place in the United States every night. This statistic was a major talking point at a breakfast symposium for journalists on Thursday sponsored by Teva Women’s Health, manufacturer of the Plan B One-Step emergency contraceptive pill.

Those unprotected sex acts help contribute to the more than 3 million unintended pregnancies that affect U.S. women every year.

“Overall, it has been estimated that the widespread use of emergency contraception in the United States could prevent 1.7 million unintended pregnancies each year,” Columbia University Medical Center professor Anne Davis said in a statement on behalf of Teva.

Plan B One-Step (levonorgestrel) is a single pill available from behind the counter for girls and women ages 17 years and older, designed to be taken 72 hours after unprotected sex or contraceptive failure. But the four panelists at the symposium agreed that part of the challenge to increasing usage of the pill in the event of an “oops moment” is making people aware of it and combatting misinformation around it.

Visibility and convenience can go a long way to promoting usage, panelist and University of Southern California pharmacy professor Kathleen Besinque said, mentioning what she called “the condom look” — the anxious look on young men’s faces that is a telltale sign they’re looking for condoms. Similarly, customers looking for emergency contraception may be embarrassed to talk about it openly and thus afraid to ask where the pills are or worried the store doesn’t carry them.

“I talk to pharmacists all the time, and I try to encourage them to put the product where it can be seen,” Besinque told Drug Store News, adding that one way of ensuring visibility could include shelf tags near the shelf where condoms are kept.

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