PHARMACY

JAMA: Pharmacists key to patient-centric model

BY Jim Frederick

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The drumbeat in support of an expanded universally recognized role for pharmacists in helping patients successfully manage their drug therapy is getting steadily louder.

The latest note of support came from the chief voice of the nation’s physician community, the Journal of the American Medical Association. In an Oct. 13 article, JAMA pointed to community pharmacists as key resources in helping bridge the gap between doctor and patient, particularly for patients treated by more than one specialist in an often disconnected and dysfunctional healthcare network.

The article, titled “Medication use in older patients: Better policy could encourage better practice,” was hailed by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores as “further validation of the need for public policy to embrace pharmacists’ expertise in helping patients take their medications correctly.” What’s more, the group noted, the points made by JAMA author Jerry Avorn were “consistent with NACDS’ ongoing campaign to raise awareness of…medication adherence to help boost health and reduce healthcare costs.”

Avorn highlighted both the critical value of drug therapy and the need for accessible, community-based health professionals, such as pharmacists and nurses, to augment a more effective, patient-centric health system. “The use of medications in older patients,” he wrote, “is arguably the single most important healthcare intervention in the industrialized world.” However, he noted that “dys-organization” in healthcare delivery is “particularly problematic for complex patients with several chronic conditions who take multiple medications, often provided by numerous specialists in little or no contact with one another—a recipe for pharmacological chaos.”

Avorn “specifically mentions pharmacists as a solution,” NACDS pointed out. “Although the 2010 healthcare legislation did not reform the delivery system, it did provide for small pilot studies of ‘medical homes’ that could address the fragmentation of care that so often defeats the provision of integrated, coherent drug regimens for elderly patients with complex healthcare needs,” the author wrote. “Solutions could be designed in as these systems develop in several ways. Pharmacists and nurses could work with physicians to develop, implement and monitor drug regimens.”

NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson found plenty to like with that approach. “NACDS is 100% committed to unleashing the power of pharmacy to help improve lives and to reduce the estimated $290 billion in annual costs—13% of all healthcare expenditures—related to not taking medications correctly,” he said. “This effort is resulting in consistent progress, such as the advancement of pharmacist-provided medication therapy management that provides a methodical approach to increasing medication adherence.”

To that end, Anderson noted, “the article in the Journal of the American Medical Association is yet another drumbeat that should continue to inspire action for further progress in public policy.”

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NACDS, NCPA claim pharmacy victory after withdrawal of Medicaid program provisions

BY Alaric DeArment

ALEXANDRIA, Va. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the National Community Pharmacists Association heralded the withdrawal of two provisions from the Medicaid program that would have had retail pharmacies selling generic drugs at a loss.

 

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services cut provisions that defined average manufacturer price and determined calculation of federal upper limits. The NACDS and NCPA sued CMS in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in November 2007 to obtain an injunction against the provisions, which the court granted. In response, CMS revised its definition of multiple source drugs in October 2008, though the pharmacy lobby groups amended their lawsuit to block that as well, saying it was still against the law. CMS’ new rule removes that provision as well.

 

 

In a joint statement, NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson and NCPA EVP and CEO Kathleen Jaeger heralded the decision, saying the rule would have reduced patients’ access to pharmacies by cutting reimbursements, thus forcing retail pharmacies to sell generic drugs at a loss.

 

 

“We insisted that this policy was not appropriate,” the statement read. “Separately, we also have urged that policy-makers should recognize the ability of pharmacies and pharmacists to help improve health and reduce healthcare costs. We are gratified that this sense is reflected in the pharmacy provisions of the new healthcare-reform law. The new law contains provisions ranging from dramatically reducing the [accelerated manufacturing of pharmaceutical] cuts to advancing medication therapy management, through which pharmacists can help patients take their medications correctly, which is referred to as ‘medication adherence.’”

 

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Roadside announces partnership to further ‘drive’ wellness programs

BY Alaric DeArment

BOSTON Two companies have formed a partnership to provide services for long-haul truck drivers.

 

Sleep HealthCenters and Roadside Medical Clinic + Lab announced a partnership Wednesday to provide sleep medicine services as part of Roadside’s driver-wellness programs.

 

 

Roadside provides medical services, such as Department of Transportation-compliant physicals, drug testing, driver-wellness programs and sleep services for professional drivers on the highway and at company terminals. Sleep HealthCenters will support Roadside’s programs by providing education, professional diagnosis and treatment support, which will be incorporated into the driver-wellness program.

 

 

“You cannot effectively screen, test and treat sleep apnea without addressing and improving drivers’ overall health condition, such as weight, [body-mass index], stress and cardiac strength,” Roadside COO Rob Scheschareg said. “By providing continuous care for drivers for sleep, fitness, health and [Department of Transportation] compliance from the terminal to the highways, Roadside Medical is able to move the needle toward better driver health.”

 

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