PHARMACY

MedHelp, Drugstore.com create Ask-a-Pharmacist to extend outreach to patients

BY Michael Johnsen

SAN FRANCISCO MedHelp, an online health community connecting people to medical experts, information and shared experiences, and Drugstore.com on Wednesday partnered to provide a forum where registered pharmacists could answer questions from MedHelp members.

The new forum on MedHelp.org is called Ask-a-Pharmacist and is the first to focus solely on medications. “Drug and treatment information is the second-largest search category in health, only behind symptom searches,” stated John de Souza, MedHelp chief executive officer. “We are honored to be able to provide people with access to the highest quality drug and treatment information, leveraging the knowledge and experience of the pharmacists at drugstore.com.”

“Drugstore.com pharmacists care about providing the best information to ensure safe and proper use of prescription and over-the-counter medications to improve people’s health,” state Ron Kelly, vice president, customer and pharmacy services, Drugstore.com. “Our pharmacists are looking forward to participating in the new forum, answering questions and connecting with the MedHelp online health community.”

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U.K. National Institute for Health authority advises conservative treatment of ADHD

BY Alaric DeArment

LONDON The United Kingdom’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence issued guidelines Wednesday recommending that doctors prescribe drugs such as Ritalin sparingly for children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

NICE said the drugs should only go to kids with severe ADHD, while kids with moderate cases should receive special help from parents and teachers. More than 2.5 million young people in the United States use drugs to treat ADHD.

Ritalin (methylphenidate) had sales of $375 million in 2007, according to financial data from maker Novartis.

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Rite Aid adds RX Savings Card discount program chain-wide

BY Michael Johnsen

CAMP HILL, Pa. Beginning Sept. 29, Rite Aid will makes its RX Savings Card available across the chain, enabling consumers to save on more than 10,000 prescription drugs and more than 3,200 Rite Aid brand products.

“The Rite Aid RX Savings Card has been so successful in Michigan, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and California that we have expanded the program nationwide,” stated Bill Wolfe, Rite Aid group vice president, pharmacy. “Residents in those states really embraced the card and in only a few months have saved over $5 million on their prescriptions, over-the-counter medicines and Rite Aid brand items.”

Benefits of the free card include:

• Access to more than 400 generic medications at $8.99 for a 30-day supply and $15.99 for a 90-day supply for each prescription;

• a 20 percent discount on all other generic medications and brand drug prescriptions;

• a 30-day supply of select generic oral contraceptives for $19.99; and

• a 10 percent savings on more than 3,200 Rite Aid brand products, which include more than 1,500 over-the-counter medications.

The Rite Aid RX Savings Card will especially benefit those who have no or limited prescription insurance. Others who will find particular benefit from the card are those whose prescription plan does not cover certain drugs or who have reached their benefit limits, the company stated.

“Many Americans are without health insurance, even though they may be steadily employed. Combine that with record-high gas prices, increasing food prices and the increasing cost of living in general, and there is a serious need for a card like this to help people take care of themselves and their families,” Wolfe said. “That’s why our list of 30 and 90 day generics at $8.99 and $15.99 cuts across most therapeutic categories and includes some of the most widely used generic drugs such as amlodipine/simvastatin to treat cardiovascular conditions, loratadine for allergies, ranitadine for gastrointestinal conditions, and sertraline which is an antidepressant.”

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