FSAs may become latest healthcare-reform casualty
WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — There’s been quite an uproar following healthcare reform’s flexible spending account proposal that in January will force consumers to spend upward of $40 on doctor visit co-pays in order to save some $2.50 for every $10 spent on nonprescription items.
(THE NEWS: FSA lobbying group calls on Congress: Make saving healthcare dollars for working Americans attractive again. For the full story, click here)
And with the number of congressional seats that turned from blue to red, this year’s election is a harbinger that a lot of things are going to change.
If that change actually comes in the form of eliminating that extra doctor-visit hurdle to save money on over-the-counter medicines, that makes it all the better for the business of pharmacy. Because healthcare models that incentivize self care not only help curb overall healthcare costs (fewer doctor visits, fewer prescriptions), those models help drive consumers toward that pair of retail healthcare professionals — the pharmacist and retail clinician — who can help further drive healthcare costs down the most.
The Asheville Project is but one example of how an involved pharmacist can help save healthcare dollars. Medication therapy management type of interactions with the patient help increase compliance and potentially help identify problems long before they become an acute need for care.
Retail clinicians, too, help save healthcare dollars by engaging patients who have an acute need for care — if not by treating those patients themselves, then by redirecting them toward appropriate care. According to a Convenient Care Association survey, as many as 40% of retail clinic patients would have sought treatment in an emergency room or urgent care center, or otherwise would have foregone treatment altogether, if the retail clinic option weren’t available.
Retail clinicians also help advocate the importance of a medical home for patients — again, a factor that helps identify potential problems before they become more serious, and more expensive, to treat.
Axium, Firma Medical enter ED collaboration
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.”
Teva Women’s Health discusses emergency contraceptive at symposium
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.