HHS announces the winners of 2011 Healthy Living Innovation Awards
WASHINGTON — The Department of Health and Human Services on Friday announced the winners of an awards program that highlights innovative health promotion projects that have demonstrated a significant impact on the health of the community within the past three years.
Among the award winners was the YMCA of the USA, which had partnered with Walgreens and UnitedHealth Group on “Taking the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program to Scale.” Nominated organizations had to have an innovative project in at least 1-of-3 health promotion areas: healthy weight, physical activity and nutrition. Awards were granted based on the criteria of creativity and innovation, leadership, sustainability, replicability and results/outcomes.
In little more than two years, the program has been scaled from one pilot site to 116 sites in 22 cities. The YDPP is based on the landmark U.S. Diabetes Prevention Program, funded by the National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which showed that with lifestyle changes and modest weight reduction, a person with prediabetes can prevent or delay the onset of the disease by 58%. Indiana University School of Medicine researchers were able to replicate the results of the U.S. DPP — which was conducted one-on-one in a clinical setting — in conjunction with the YMCA of Indianapolis and proved that Ys can foster the same kind of intervention, but in a group setting, for a cost of 75% less than the U.S. DPP, while achieving similar weight-loss results.
YDPP’s goals: Reduce body weight by 7% and increase physical activity to 150 minutes per week. A trained lifestyle coach helps participants change their lifestyle by learning about healthy eating, physical activity and other behavioral changes over 16 one-hour classroom sessions. After the initial 16 sessions, participants meet monthly for added support for maintenance.
Efforts to scale the YDPP began with CDC funding in 2009, and allowed the faith-based organization to translate the science to practice in 22 cities in 2010. In April 2010, Y-USA partnered with UnitedHealth Group and Walgreens to begin to cover the YDPP for insured members and employees. By the end of 2011, 50 Ys will offer the YDPP, the company projected.
Walgreens had been selected by the managed care organization UnitedHealth Group to participate in the alliance. In its role as a founding partner, Walgreens provided personalized coaching and counseling by trained pharmacists to help patients diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes manage their condition and improve adherence to their physicians’ treatment plans. Walgreens pharmacists — or, in selected markets, Take Care Health Systems nurse practitioners — provided diabetes education and behavioral intervention, risk-factor reduction, health promotion and regular examinations for early signs of complications, all in the convenient setting of a local pharmacy. UnitedHealth Group covered the services at no charge to plan participants enrolled in employer-provided health insurance plans, marking the first time in the country that a health plan paid for evidence-based diabetes prevention and control programs.
Winners will receive awards from the secretary of health and human services at a public recognition ceremony and will have the opportunity to present their innovations at a national conference in 2011.
Upsher-Smith commences late-stage trial for epilepsy treatment
MAPLE GROVE, Minn. — Upsher-Smith Labs has started a late-stage clinical trial of a drug for treating patients with a rare and severe form of epilepsy, the drug maker said Monday.
The company announced the start of a phase-3 trial of USL261 (midazolam), a drug administered via the nose to stop seizures in patients on stable anti-epileptic drug regimens who have intermittent bouts of increased seizure activity, also known as seizure clusters, which affect about 152,000 Americans. The Food and Drug Administration has granted the medication orphan-drug designation, which the agency gives to drugs for treating conditions that affect fewer than 200,000 people in the United States.
The trial, “ARTEMIS1,” will compare the drug with placebo in patients ages 14 to 65 years.
High adherence rates reported among patients in Walgreens’ HCV therapy management program
DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens is recognizing medication adherence rates as high as 96% through its hepatitis C therapy management programs across its specialty pharmacy, the pharmacy operator announced Monday.
This comes as the Food and Drug Administration recently approved boceprevir and telaprevir, two new medications to improve HCV treatment. The newly approved drugs have been clinically shown to shorten the time required for treatment while increasing the patient response rate; however, this also comes with potentially higher costs for drug therapy. With these cost increases and complex prescribing regimens, Walgreens has developed the programs to help both patients and payers better manage disease treatment and lower patients’ overall healthcare costs.
The programs are offered through Walgreens specialty pharmacy and in store at more than 7,700 Walgreens community pharmacies nationwide.
“Adherence is a critical component of HCV treatment and significantly impacts a patient’s response rate and recovery,” said Cheryl Pegus, Walgreens chief medical officer. “Our clinicians work closely with patients both face-to-face at our community pharmacies and through our central specialty pharmacies. Having the ability to manage patients through multiple channels enables our clinicians to effectively address possible side effects, measure adherence, conduct interventions and also work in conjunction with physicians to ensure each patient is receiving personalized care and the best possible treatment regimen.”
Walgreens’ HCV therapy management program provides patients with a variety of services, regardless of whether they are receiving medication from the central specialty pharmacy (via home delivery) or through Walgreens retail locations. These services include:
Monthly adherence calls to inform patients about critical upcoming blood tests that are required to continue therapy, and to educate patients on how to maximize therapy results;
Next-day home delivery for medications;
Assistance programs to help patients minimize risk resulting from economic circumstances that may negatively impact therapy compliance;
Depression screenings with communications to pharmacists and physicians who are members of a patient’s care team;
Alerts for missed doses, at-risk patient behavior or serious adverse side effects that are communicated to a prescribing physician;
Clinical support line with healthcare professionals available around the clock;
Convenient access to hepatitis A and B vaccinations at select Walgreens nationwide; and
Shared patient prescription profiles among Walgreens’ network of more than 7,700 pharmacies and central fulfillment specialty pharmacies, enabling pharmacists to check for potential drug interactions and provide continuous patient education.
While Walgreens is working closely with patients to help them better manage their condition, on the payer level the company provides tools to help payers understand the FDA’s new “Response Guided Therapy” protocols associated with the new HCV treatments. Walgreens also provides detailed patient-level reporting that can alert payers to patients who may be at risk for nonadherence or off-label use, the company announced.