PHARMACY

HHS tests $150 million pilot program to encourage electronic records

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK The Department of Health and Human Services, through Medicare, is spending $150 million on a pilot program that will use incentives to persuade doctors to go digital. The reasons are many: it could save hundreds of billions of dollars, cut errors, save lives and make service more efficient.

The program is being tested in Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, Main, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Virginia, Jacksonville, Fla., Pittsburgh, Madison, Wis., and Washington, D.C.

Under the program, doctors will receive up to $58,000 and practices will get up to $290,000 to migrate to a electronic record keeping. The cost of a small practice or individual doctor switching to electronic records ranges from $40,000 to $60,000.

But the U.S. still has some catching up to do.

Medical records in Germany are already fully electronic. In addition, Canada is spending $1 billion to make records electronic, while Britain is spending even more.

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Florida e-prescribing organization releases registered vendor list

BY Alaric DeArment

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. ePrescribe Florida, an organization that assists pharmacies in adopting electronic prescription systems, released a list of registered vendor solutions Tuesday.

Registered vendors made the list by meeting a set of e-prescribing and patient-safety criteria, such as alerting customers about potential interactions between drugs and allergies, as well as meeting Medicare electronic prescription standards. The list of 13 vendors includes H2H Solutions, iScribe, MedPlus, Misys Healthcare Systems and NextGen Healthcare.

ePrescribe Florida comprises various pharmacies, physicians, insurers, health-care improvement organizations and other organizations and professionals.

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Cephalon sues Watson over Fentora patent

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK Drug maker Cephalon alleges that Watson infringed on its patent by developing a generic equivalent to its drug, Fentora.

Fentora (fentanyl citrate) is used to treat pain in cancer patients and received approval from the Food and Drug Administration in September 2006.

Watson applied for FDA approval of its generic version in April. In response, Cephalon filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware on June 2, asserting that Watson had infringed on patents ‘604 and ‘590, both of which expire in 11 years.

Fentora recorded sales of $135 million in 2007.

The FDA has, however, granted approval for Watson’s application for a generic version of KV Pharmaceutical’s Micro-K Extencaps in 600 mg and 750 mg doses.

The company that is now Wyeth sold global rights and the trademark for Micro-K to KV for $36 million in 1999. Micro-K had sales of $80 between March 2007 and March 2008, according to IMS Health data.

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