PHARMACY

MinuteClinic debuts Rhode Island’s first retail medical clinics

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — MinuteClinic, the retail medical clinic of CVS Health, opened its first location in Rhode Island on Wednesday inside the CVS/pharmacy store in Woonsocket. Two more walk-in clinics will begin seeing patients Thursday in CVS/pharmacy locations in Cranston and Wakefield.

The Rhode Island clinics are part of MinuteClinic’s plan to add 150 clinics nationwide in 2014. With the openings this week, there will be 87 MinuteClinic locations in New England inside select CVS/pharmacy stores in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire. In total, MinuteClinic currently operates more than 940 locations in 30 states.

“MinuteClinic is the latest innovation CVS Health is bringing to its home state to help expand access to high quality care and lower costs,” said Andrew Sussman, president, MinuteClinic and SVP/associate chief medical officer, CVS Health. “As we have experienced elsewhere in New England and across the United States, MinuteClinic can support the primary care medical model by offering services at convenient locations near where patients live and work and at times when traditional options may not be available.”

The Rhode Island clinics are included in a clinical collaboration between MinuteClinic and Lifespan to enhance continuity of care with the primary care community. Lifespan is Rhode Island’s largest health system with a network of more than 1,800 affiliated physicians throughout the state. Both organizations will integrate their electronic medical records to further promote exchange of clinical information, with patients’ permission.

MinuteClinic also will be collaborating with the Rhode Island Free Clinic, providing care for free to its patients, as part of its overall commitment to increasing access to affordable health care in Rhode Island. CVS Health already provides free medications for these patients at several CVS/pharmacy locations in the state.

“The support of MinuteClinic nurse practitioners and physician assistants in providing care to our patients, will be a great complement to the quality care provided at Rhode Island Free Clinic,” said Marie Ghazal, CEO, Rhode Island Free Clinic. “Overall, MinuteClinic will also increase access to care for uninsured Rhode Islanders, promote more patients to find a primary care physician and help to reduce costs to the health care system in our state.”

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FDA grants approval to Obizur

BY Ryan Chavis

SILVER SPRING, Md. — The Food and Drug Administration last week announced approval for Obizur [antihemophilic factor (recombinant), porcine sequence] for the treatment of bleeding episodes in adults with acquired hemophilia A. 
 
The disorder is rare and potentially life threatening. It's caused by the development of antibodies directed against the body's own FVIII, which is a protein important for blood clotting. When a person's blood doesn't clot like it normally should, excessive bleeding can spontaneously occur or will happen after an injury or a surgical procedure. 
 
“The approval of this product provides an important therapeutic option for use in the care of patients with this rare disease,” said Karen Midthun, MD, director of FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.
 
Obizur is classified as an orphan drug by the FDA because of its use to treat a rare disease or condition. The drug is manufactured by Baxter Healthcare Corp. 
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NCPA Digest: Community pharmacists promote Rx adherence; generic drug savings

BY Antoinette Alexander

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Independent community pharmacies are increasingly providing services to support patient medication adherence and set a new record high in the proportion of prescriptions filled with typically lower-cost generic drugs, according to the National Community Pharmacists Association's 2014 Digest, sponsored by Cardinal Health.

"According to the Digest, locally owned pharmacies are playing an even more integral role in U.S. health care," said NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey. "Community pharmacists are more often counseling patients to improve medication adherence and more frequently conferring with physicians on ways to improve the outcomes of prescription drug therapy. Small business community pharmacies make important economic and civic contributions to their hometowns as well," the Digest shows.

According to the Digest, 67% of independent community pharmacies are offering patients some type of medication adherence program, which represents a substantial increase over the survey's past two annual findings of 48% and 39%, respectively. These pharmacists are counseling patients, sending text reminders, calling patients, and providing other tools to improve medication adherence among their patients. In addition, the Digest found that generic drugs accounted for 78% of total prescriptions, another increase over prior years.

"We realize that community pharmacists play a unique role in helping improve our nation's healthcare system," said Ron Clerico, VP of retail marketing at Cardinal Health. "Health care is changing and we must evolve to meet new expectations. It is more important than ever for community pharmacies to understand the current thinking and trends. The NCPA Digest is an excellent resource that encourages pharmacy owners to think differently about their business with ideas, such as exploring services tailored to the needs of their community and participating in Medicare drug plan star ratings in order to thrive in today's competitive market. This is why Cardinal Health is proud to once again sponsor the NCPA Digest, a comprehensive report to help pharmacy owners make smarter business decisions."

Other highlights from the Digest, which analyzed 2013 data (the most current full-year data available), include:

  • There are an estimated 22,814 independent community pharmacies, which is a slight reduction from the previous tally of 23,029;
  • Prescription volume remained relatively flat (62,424 prescriptions annually on average) despite a growth in overall U.S. prescriptions, possibly due to insurance plan requirements or other inducements for patients to fill certain prescriptions, including specialty drugs through proprietary mail order facilities as well as exclusionary "preferred pharmacy" networks in Medicare;
  • These pharmacists interact with physicians 8.7 times daily on average on prescription drug therapy, compared with 7.5 in the last Digest survey. These doctors agree with and implement pharmacists' generic product recommendations 91% of the time and other therapeutic recommendations 78% of the time;
  • More than 70% of independent pharmacies are serving areas with population less than 50,000 and 36% are located in areas with a population less than 10,000, underscoring that these providers are often a critical access point to health care. It's in these communities that pharmacy small business owners have their greatest impact, not only economically by creating employment opportunities and generating tax revenue but also through civic contributions; and
  • In addition to providing prescription drugs, community pharmacies' offered a range of personalized health services, the most common of which were same-day, home delivery, followed by patient charge accounts and durable medical equipment. Many community pharmacies also host disease state management services — the three most prevalent were immunizations (62%), blood pressure monitoring (59%), and diabetes training (37%).
     

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