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Iowa TakeAway program keeps Rx out of water

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK The Associated Press. The remnants mostly were a result of patients disposing of unused medicines by flushing them down the toilet, and ranged from antibiotics in Denver’s tap water to the narcotic codeine in northern New Jersey. In response to the problem, small-scale initiatives have sprouted up around the country to collect unused medicines and educate patients about proper disposal, but one state is thinking bigger.—The drinking water of at least 46 million Americans living in two dozen metropolitan areas last year contained the remnants of improperly discarded pharmaceuticals, according to

Iowa recently launched the Iowa TakeAway program, an effort to enlist pharmacists throughout the state to collect patients’ unused medicines and keep them out of the water supply. The program is the result of legislation passed earlier this year that called for the creation of a “pharmaceutical collection and disposal pilot program” based around community pharmacies. In response to the legislation, the Iowa Board of Pharmacy and Iowa Pharmacy Association lobbied state legislators for funding to create such a program, securing a grant from the Department of Natural Resources and a partnership with Houston-based Sharps Compliance Corp., the same company that disposes of the medical waste thrown into red bins in private physician offices around the country and already had been collecting unused medications for two years and has similar programs in other areas, such as San Francisco.

“We have the only take-back program that’s approved by the U.S. Postal Service,” Sharps Compliance SVP sales and marketing Claude Dance told Drug Store News.

Under the program, patients bring their unused prescription and OTC medications to a participating pharmacy. Once the pharmacy fills an envelope, it sends it to Sharps Compliance’s destruction facility in Carthage, Texas. The program can accept solid medications and liquids, ointments and creams in quantities of less than 4 oz., though it can’t accept such items as test strips, gauze, rubbing alcohol or sharps.

A number of independent and regional chain pharmacies have enlisted to participate in the program, including Hy-Vee, though national chains have not signed on. “I think the national chains are saying, ‘If we do a program, we’ll provide it as a national solution versus a single-state initiative,’” Dance said.

The program could help take a lot of the contaminants out of water, but Dance said he saw other uses for it as well, such as improving patients’ medication compliance. A bottle containing unused pills to treat a chronic condition that requires careful attention to drug regimens could raise a pharmacist’s eyebrows.

“What the Iowa program is doing is providing the opportunity to interact with the pharmacist and have the pharmacist have a discussion,” Dance said. “It’s a counseling opportunity.”

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Hy-Vee names new president

BY Alaric DeArment

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa A 28-year employee of Hy-Vee has become its new president, according to published reports.

The company appointed Randall Edeker as president of the supermarket chain Thursday at the company’s annual meeting, succeeding Ric Jurgens, who had served as president since 2001 and will maintain his position as chairman and CEO.

Edeker had previously served as EVP and COO.

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Tricare expands vaccination coverage to pharmacies, clinics

BY DSN STAFF

NEW YORK Convenience and value. That’s what community pharmacy and their retail clinic partners deliver to their patients. And that’s what the Department of Defense is counting on in covering immunizations at local pharmacies and identifying convenient care clinics as network providers — two separate pieces of news issued within the past month that really underscore the importance of pharmacies and retail clinics in the delivery of health care today.

Prior to these announcements, military personnel interested in getting their flu shots had to schedule an appointment with their doctor, as Tricare only covered the cost of shots delivered in a doctor’s office.

“As a convenient and accessible healthcare provider, pharmacy is uniquely positioned to offer services for patients, such as vaccinations,” stated Steve Anderson, president and CEO for the National Association of Chain Drug Stores. Anderson noted that as of earlier this year, pharmacists have the ability to immunize patients in all 50 states. “[This] presents an important opportunity for pharmacists to counsel patients during their visit, and an additional healthcare provider from which to obtain these vaccinations.”

It’s also quite a bit of opportunity for pharmacy — Tricare provides healthcare coverage for 9.5 million eligible beneficiaries. Those beneficiaries pick up almost 2.3 million prescriptions every week, and 1.2 million of those at retail pharmacies, according to Tricare .

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