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NACDS highlights value of community pharmacy in Los Angeles Times letter to the editor

BY Antoinette Alexander

ALEXANDRIA, Va.  — The National Association of Chain Drug Stores has engaged its Rapid Response Program, issuing a letter to the editor to the Los Angeles Times to highlight the importance of maintaining prescription medication access to prevent patient health complications and the increased need for costly forms of health care.

Through the Rapid Response Program, NACDS proactively addresses media reports and other communications in the public domain in a way that raises awareness of the value of community pharmacies as the face of neighborhood healthcare.

NACDS responded to an Oct. 18 article in the Los Angeles Times, titled “CDC: Emergency Room Visits Surged in 2009.” The article described preliminary data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing that emergency room visits rose nearly 10% to 136 million in 2009.

The text of the letter to the Los Angeles Times from NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson follows:

If the human costs, financial burdens and inefficiency of skyrocketing emergency room visits are shocking to readers and policy-makers, then here is the really depressing news: It could get even worse.

Although not mentioned specifically in the article, repeated federal and state cuts affecting patients’ access to prescription medications through Medi-Cal stand to leave chronic conditions untreated. While cuts may appear to solve government accounting problems in the short term, they will explode deficits when passed-up prevention leads to greater health complications and costly forms of care, including in the emergency room.

It is more prudent to foster access to medications, and to programs like pharmacist-provided medication therapy management, which empowers patients to understand their medications, take them and do so in a manner that maximizes their effectiveness.

NACDS emphasizes that pharmacy is an effective partner in helping to control healthcare costs, as evidenced by success in such strategies as generic drug utilization. NACDS also emphasizes that neighborhood pharmacies provide unsurpassed value in healthcare delivery and that prescription drug costs should not be viewed in a vacuum.

For example, in North Carolina’s ChecKmeds NC program, face-to-face medication therapy management services for Medicare patients have delivered return-on-investment of $13.55 for every $1 invested, NACDS stated. In addition, according to the New England Journal of Medicine, when New Hampshire imposed prescription limits on its Medicaid population, the state experienced a 35% decrease in its prescription drug costs, but nursing home admissions increased by 60%.

In the private sector, a study conducted by Highmark, a Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan, found that an integrated medical and prescription drug benefit presents optimum savings to employers. Over a four-year period, medical expenses for employers that carved in the pharmacy prescription drug benefit were, on average, 6.2% lower than for those employers that carved out the benefit. The integrated medical and prescription drug benefit helped employers spend an annual average of 15.8% less in outpatient expenses and 7.7% less in emergency room expenses, for approximately $11.44 per member per month in cost avoidance.   

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Actress Paula Patton named newest face of CoverGirl’s Queen Collection

BY Antoinette Alexander

CINCINNATI — Procter & Gamble’s beauty brand CoverGirl has tapped actress Paula Patton as its newest celebrity brand ambassador for its Queen Collection, the company recently announced via Twitter.

“BIG NEWS: COVERGIRL Queen Collection is excited to announce our newest Celebrity Brand Ambassador, Actress Paula Patton!” the brand tweeted earlier this week.

The CoverGirl Queen Collection was inspired by Queen Latifah to celebrate the beauty of women of color.
 

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Loyola U to parents: Protect your preschoolers with the flu vaccine

BY Michael Johnsen

MAYWOOD, Ill. — On average, 20,000 children under the age of 5 years are hospitalized due to flu symptoms each year, the Loyola University Health System announced Thursday in a press release encouraging parents to have their children inoculated.

“The flu can be deadly, especially in children under the age of 5, and those who have certain health conditions such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease,” said Kevin Polsley, Loyola University Health System pediatrician and assistant professor of pediatrics at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. “But even if your child doesn’t have risk factors, he or she could still develop potentially fatal complications from the flu.”

“The best way to protect kids from the flu and its potentially deadly symptoms is a flu shot,” Polsley said. “Schools and day care centers are perfect environments for the flu to spread. But just because your child doesn’t go to school is not a guarantee they won’t get the flu. It’s everywhere.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that nearly half of the children who died last year from the flu had no risk factors. As cold weather begins to set in and with people spending more time indoors and in confined spaces, the chances of contracting the flu increases.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that every child ages 6 months or older get a flu shot.

“It’s best to get the shot in the fall before we start to see a lot of flu activity because it takes two weeks for the body to develop an antibody response,” Polsley said.

For parents worried that their child may already have the flu, these are the symptoms to look for:

  • A high-grade fever up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit;

  • Chills and shakes with the fever;

  • Extreme tiredness;

  • Headache and body aches;

  • Dry, hacking cough;

  • Sore throat; and

  • Vomiting and belly pain.


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