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A look back reveals pharmacy’s strides forward

BY Steve Anderson

Steve Anderson, IOM, CAE, NACDS President and CEO

It is amazing how a 2008 initiative has marked pharmacy’s progress in helping to improve access to high-quality, cost-effective patient care.

Eight years ago, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores and allied organizations released a document entitled “Project Destiny,” which sought to facilitate pharmacy’s healthcare services beyond medications. The document stated: “Pharmacists … are well suited for providing patient care that ensures optimal medication outcomes and can contribute to the lowering of overall healthcare costs. … ‘Project Destiny’ has identified potential mechanisms for offering services to patients that are valued by the healthcare system which can be replicable, scalable and economically viable for community pharmacy.”

Since that time, NACDS members have made tremendous strides in innovating healthcare delivery. Along the way, we have seen examples of how federal and state policies can help foster these improvements, or threaten them.

Vaccinations present one example among many of how to leverage pharmacy’s value. At the federal level, health authorities have lauded pharmacies as critical vaccination access points during flu outbreaks. The military’s TRICARE program hails the success of its pharmacy-based vaccination program. At the state level, it is notable that in 2009 pharmacists gained the ability to administer the flu vaccine in all 50 states — when Maine took that step. Just last year, Georgia became the 50th state in which pharmacists can provide at least three vaccines.

Still, examples abound of the need to work continuously at the federal and state levels to preserve patients’ choice of pharmacies in Medicare, Medicaid and TRICARE to meet their medication needs. NACDS members look forward to talking with U.S. Senators and Representatives about these challenges.

In many ways, this special edition of Drug Store News — which is being circulated during NACDS RxImpact Day on Capitol Hill — provides a kind of update on “Project Destiny” and the story of pharmacy patient care’s evolution. It is up to all of us to ensure the positive story continues to unfold for the ultimate good of patients nationwide.

To see the full report, click here.

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Tuning into real health reform

BY Rob Eder

This year makes 19 years for me as the editor of Drug Store News. Looking back on it all, I have seen a lot change. In many ways, it reminds me of a series of TV commercials that was popular back then — AT&T’s “You Will” ads.

Remember those?

“Have you ever borrowed a book from 1,000 miles away,” the voice of Tom Selleck asked. “Have you ever crossed the country without stopping for directions? … You will.”

Today, e-books and GPS are pretty common; but 20 years ago, they seemed like science fiction.

The comparisons to the transformation of community pharmacy over that period are really quite remarkable.

When I started 19 years ago, it would have been impossible to imagine getting a flu shot from a pharmacist because pharmacists were not licensed to do. Today, pharmacists in all 50 states can administer flu shots and at least two other vaccinations.

Back then, it would have been hard to imagine being able to receive 80% of your primary care needs in a community pharmacy setting — the retail clinic was very much still just a concept on a dry erase board. Today, there are more than 2,000 retail clinics in operation, with many more expected in the years ahead.

To be sure, as the editor of DSN I have seen the drug store re-emerge not just as a place that dispenses prescriptions, but as the center of health care in neighborhoods all across America.

I frequently tell people that if they could see what I see, if they could see how community pharmacy, in so many examples, is leading the way on lowering healthcare costs, expanding patient access and driving better health outcomes, they would have a pretty good sense of how to fix health care.

That’s why we have produced this special edition of DSN. Just like those AT&T commercials, you may not have thought a lot about what community pharmacy could do to help fix health care was possible. But when you read this, you will.

To see the full report, click here.

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FDA approves expanded Imbruvica indication

BY David Salazar
SILVER SPRING, Md. — The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new indication for Janssen Biotech’s and Pharmacyclics’ Imbruvica (ibrutinib) capsules, the companies announced Friday.
 
The drug can now be used by patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia that hasn’t been treated yet. The new indication expands the drug’s use beyond CLL patients with a certain genetic mutation. The approval coincides with a recent update to the National Comprehensive Cancer Network’s Clinical Practice Guidelines, which recommended Imbruvica for some first-line CLL patients. 
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