PHARMACY

Minn. Gov. signs mandate for e-prescribing, EHS systems

BY Drew Buono

ST. PAUL, Minn. Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty has signed legislation to mandate the use of electronic prescription technology and require implemented electronic health records systems to be Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology-certified, according to published reports.

The provisions are in the 2008 Minnesota Health Care Reform Act. Provisions in the law are designed to increase the availability and coverage of health insurance, improve chronic care management, reform payment processes, make pricing and quality data transparent, and fund programs to combat tobacco use and obesity. The law also requires a study on ways to reduce claims adjudication costs and adopt more uniform methods of processing claims.

The new law mandates use of electronic prescribing by Jan. 1, 2011. Prescribers and dispensers must use either the Health Level Seven messaging standards or the National Council for Prescription Drug Programs’ SCRIPT standard to transmit prescriptions and prescription-related information.

The law does not mandate use of electronic health records. But to ensure EHR systems are interoperable, they must be CCHIT-certified. Further, the EHRs must meet the e-prescribing provisions of the law.

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FDA, EMEA partner on inspections program

BY Drew Buono

WASHINGTON The Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency have joined together to pilot a good manufacturing practice inspections program.

Under the bilateral agreement, the program will apply to facilities in both the U.S. and the European Union. Also, joint inspections of active pharmaceutical ingredient facilities in countries outside the U.S. and the EU will be part of the program.

The agencies will pilot a GMP information exchange covering inspection schedules and results. Information on facilities that have been inspected would be shared so the agencies could get greater inspection coverage and better identify API production sites in countries outside the U.S. and the EU.

“The collaboration on inspections should result in more effective use of resources and a higher safety level of product from third countries,” the European Commission, which lists new GMP initiatives the two agencies undertake, said.

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Study shows Mass. plan drops uninsurance rate, decreases expenses

BY Drew Buono

CHICAGO According to a study performed by the Urban Institute, the uninsurance rate for Massachusetts adults has dropped by more than half and residents were paying less in out-of-pocket health expenses, as reported by the Associated Press.

Researchers from the institute interviewed 3,000 Massachusetts residents in the fall of 2006, just before the law took effect, and conducted a second round of interviews a year later. The uninsurance rate among working age adults dropped from 13 to 7 percent. The biggest drop was among poorer residents.

The finding reflects the fact that nearly 350,000 residents have been added to the ranks of the insured in Massachusetts under the law, which created a subsidized health care program for those earning less than three times the federal poverty level.

The share of adults reporting out-of-pocket expenses of more than $500 dropped by four percent. The percent of low-income adults reporting out-of-pocket expenses of more than $3,000 fell eight percent.

In another positive finding, low-income adults were more likely to have a place to go when they were sick and were more likely to visit a doctor for preventative care.

One fear—that employers would begin dropping health coverage as the new law took effect—hasn’t materialized, according to the report.

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