PHARMACY

Massachusetts again ranks highest in conversion to e-prescribing

BY Jim Frederick

WASHINGTON For the third straight year, Massachusetts has been dubbed the nation’s most advanced in the adoption of electronically routed prescriptions.

That designation came today, as e-prescribing platform provider Surescripts released its state rankings during the fourth annual Safe-Rx Awards ceremony at the National Press Club. The Bay State ranked first in the nation when it came to the use among state physicians of paperless prescribing, Surescripts president and CEO Harry Totonis announced.

Massachusetts sent more than 6.7 million prescriptions electronically in 2008, representing 20.5% of all eligible prescriptions in the state, according to Surescripts. That compares with 2.3% sent electronically in the state in 2005, Totonis noted.

Massachusetts was one of 15 states recognized for its efforts to promote e-prescribing at the Safe-Rx event, established in 2005 to raise awareness about the benefits of paperless prescriptions.

“As much as this program is about measuring and recognizing real success, its greater purpose is to highlight the leaders who are driving that success, and the stories of how they are doing it,” said Totonis. “As the numbers and rankings suggest, each year there are more and more examples of how a state and the various stakeholders within the state can work together to drive e-prescribing adoption and use.”

Among those in attendance at the National Press Club was Democratic senator and former presidential candidate John Kerry of Massachusetts. “The Massachusetts model should serve as a roadmap for the rest of the nation,” Kerry said. “Electronic prescribing saves money, improves efficiency and, most importantly, reduces life or death medical errors. While we debate how to reform our healthcare system, improve quality and lower costs, one of our top priorities should include modernizing the way physicians write prescriptions,” Kerry added.

After Massachusetts, the states with the highest incidence of e-prescribing last year, in order, were Rhode Island, Michigan, Nevada, Delaware, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Maine and Arizona. Vermont led the list of states making the most rapid gains in paperless scripts, according to Surescripts.

The awards event also featured Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen and Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas, co-chairs of the State Alliance for e-Health, and co-hosts of the Fourth Annual Safe-Rx Awards. The State Alliance was created by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices in January 2007 to improve the nation’s healthcare system by forming a collaborative body that enables states to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the health information technology initiatives they develop.

“The State Alliance recognized early on that encouraging states to make e-prescribing a top priority would have an immense value in our electronic health efforts,” said Bredesen. “Paperless prescribing is making its way into the healthcare mainstream in Tennessee and across the nation. It’s our hope to see e-prescribing become a natural part of every healthcare provider’s workflow because of its practical benefits to patients in providing better care.”

Added Douglas, “Much of Vermont healthcare reform is about utilizing the right tools to enhance our systemic approach to healthcare reform, and the evidence regarding the value of e-prescribing is clear.”

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NAMI releases PSA initiative regarding psychological disorders

BY Alaric DeArment

ARLINGTON, Va. A nonprofit organization hopes that a new series of public service announcements it has released will encourage people to connect with each other to help themselves, their families and friends who live with psychological disorders.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness announced this week that it had released a PSA initiative called “Puzzle Pieces” that includes four 60-second and three 30-second radio PSAs featuring testimonials from individuals and families that describe their experiences with mental illnesses and the role NAMI played in their recovery.

“We know that with early detection, appropriate treatment and support from family and friends, people with mental illness can lead healthy, rewarding lives,” NAMI executive director Michael Fitzpatrick said. “NAMI members connect to educate each other and encourage their loved ones during their personal journeys to wellness.”

The organization said that an estimated 1-in-5 American families is affected by mental illnesses, including major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder.

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KV Pharmaceutical, Gedeon Richter announce licensing agreement

BY Alaric DeArment

BUDAPEST, Hungary An American drug maker has signed a licensing agreement with a Hungarian pharmaceutical company.

KV Pharmaceutical Co. announced that it had entered into an agreement with Budapest, Hungary-based Gedeon Richter and its American subsidiary for licensing rights to KV technologies and products in the women’s health category.

Under the agreement, Gedeon Richter will have the right to manufacture and distribute certain proprietary technologies and products from KV in the European Union and other areas where it does business, while KV will receive undisclosed milestones and royalties for products that the two companies develop. KV will retain U.S. rights.

“KV Pharmaceutical and Gedeon Richter have for many years enjoyed an excellent relationship and business collaboration, and we are very pleased to extend it in this fashion,” KV Pharmaceutical Co. interim CEO David Van Vliet stated. “We believe this agreement allows both Richter and KV to offer additional enhanced products to more completely serve physicians and their patients.”

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