PHARMACY

McKesson mobilizes 15,000 employees as part of Operation Gratitude

BY Michael Johnsen

SAN FRANCISCO — As part of its 13th annual corporate volunteer program “Community Days,” McKesson on Monday announced its support for Operation Gratitude, whereby 15,000 McKesson employees from more than 150 McKesson sites across the country will come together to assemble more than 28,000 care packages for active duty troops deployed around the world and wounded warriors recuperating stateside.

The McKesson care packages, which include such personal hygiene items as deodorant, shave gel, disposable razors, ibuprofen, hand sanitizer and other essentials items, “are intended to lift morale, bring a smile to a service member’s face and provide troops with a little piece of home while they are away,” McKesson stated.

McKesson is partnering with Operation Gratitude, a nonprofit volunteer-based organization that annually sends more than 100,000 care packages to individually named U.S. service members deployed overseas. McKesson is dedicating its annual Community Days to show its support for the men and women of the armed forces by assembling care packages and writing heartfelt letters to soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.

“McKesson is honored to mobilize 15,000 employee volunteers to build care packages for troops deployed in harm’s way,” stated Brian Tyler, president of McKesson U.S. Pharmaceutical Distribution Services. “Given McKesson’s history in serving our armed forces and veterans, teaming up with Operation Gratitude is a natural fit.”

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Former GSK executive named Safeway SVP

BY Allison Cerra

PLEASANTON, Calif. — Darren Singer, a 25-year GlaxoSmithKline veteran, has been named Safeway’s SVP pharmacy, health and wellness, the retailer announced.

Singer will be responsible for retail pharmacy operations, specialty care, pharmacy services, compliance, benefit management and managed care for Safeway. He will report to Safeway’s merchandising president, Kelly Griffith.

Prior to joining Safeway, Singer most recently served as GSK’s VP strategic growth. He spent 25 years with GSK in various leadership roles, including VP marketing for OTC wellness, as well as president and general manager of the Block Drug, which GSK purchased in 2001.

“We are pleased to have someone of Darren’s caliber joining our executive team,” Griffith said. “His wealth of knowledge and proven track record in running some of the most visible and valuable brands in the pharmacy and wellness industry are well-suited to his leadership role at Safeway.”

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Specialty pharmacy utilization continues to rise, Walgreens executive says

BY Michael Johnsen

MIAMI — The utilization of specialty pharmacy is projected to steadily increase, Walgreens VP clinical affairs David Lorber told attendees Tuesday at the Pinsonault Associates Managed Markets Summit, which accentuates a need to augment patient compliance and help payers get a handle on what have become rapidly shifting economics.

“Specialty pharmacy is one of the most rapidly growing segments of total drug spending, which brings both concern as well as opportunity for enhanced efficiencies,” Lorber told attendees. “As more people rely on specialty pharmacy medications, the healthcare industry needs to place an emphasis on cost control, appropriateness of care, adherence and waste management.”

Lorber’s session took a hard look at the impact of specialty pharmacy on payers, including the role of adherence across a number of disciplines: cost management and containment, benefit and coverage decisions, formulary and medical policy, pipeline management, provider network and member satisfaction and disruption.

Because specialty medications include complex treatment regimens and medications that require special delivery, storage and handling, they typically cost about $2,000 for a 30-day supply — about 28 times the traditional retail prescription. Approximately 3% to 5% of the population takes a specialty medication, and that number is increasing.

Lorber discussed a case study that showed consistent patient adherence can result in savings. Walgreens multiple sclerosis patients adherent to medications, when compared to less adherent patients, resulted in savings of about $1.1 million for a large national insurance payer covering the 801 patients over a two-year period. The same case study also found that higher adherence reduced costs related to multiple sclerosis emergency room visits, inpatient stays and use of durable medical equipment.

“Improving the health and well-being of patients can be accomplished by providing convenient access to drugs and ensuring there is a consistent and coordinated care management programs,” Lorber said. “Patient counseling and education by trained pharmacists and nurses, like those at Walgreens and Take Care Health Systems, translates into fewer office visits as a result of improved adherence,” he said. “Proactive patient monitoring also drives early recognition of, and response to, adverse drug reactions and side effects, resulting in improved outcomes.”

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