PHARMACY

NACDS to host press conference in support of MTM bill

BY Allison Cerra

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — In line with NACDS RxImpact Day on Capitol Hill this week, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores will hold a press conference in support of S. 274, The Medication Therapy Management Empowerment Act of 2011.

The legislation, which was introduced by Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., and cosponsored by Sens. Al Franken, D-Minn.; Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio; Tim Johnson, D-S.D.; and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., will be discussed Thursday at the Reserve Officers Association.

The conference will feature NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson, who will discuss the importance of MTM, a professional service offered by pharmacists and other qualified health practitioners that helps ensure medications are taken appropriately, thus preventing higher costs and preventable forms of treatment.

The press conference is a component of the NACDS RxIMPACT Day on Capitol Hill, where more than 300 pharmacists, pharmacy students, executives and other pharmacy advocates will meet with lawmakers to advocate for pro-patient, pro-pharmacy policies.

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Texas Health and Human Services Commission to modernize Medicaid program

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — The agency that operates Texas’ state Medicaid program is proposing to save costs by administering prescription drug benefits the same way private insurers do, drawing praise from a trade group representing the country’s pharmacy benefit managers.

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission, which runs the program, said the change would save state taxpayers $82 million. Similar changes have been proposed in New York and New Jersey.

“Texas shouldn’t pay more for Medicaid drug benefits than private insurers and Medicare,” Pharmaceutical Care Management Association president and CEO Mark Merritt said. “Currently, the program uses fewer generic drugs and pays drug stores more than triple the fees that Medicare or private insurers pay. By modernizing Medicaid drug benefits, Texas will save millions without cutting benefits to those in need.”

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Winn-Dixie regains lost ground with new pharmacy, design efforts

BY Jim Frederick

Nothing shows a retailer that its revitalization efforts are working quite like a thumbs-up from customers. For Winn-Dixie Stores, that vote of confidence came in mid-February, when its pharmacy business was among 40 U.S. companies honored as 2011 “customer service champions” by J.D. Power and Associates.

Winn-Dixie pharmacies have undergone a major transformation since John Fegan, VP pharmacy, joined the Jacksonville, Fla.-based chain two years ago. The rebuilding process, he told Drug Store News, began with “making sure we’ve got the right people in place, and giving them the tools that would allow them to interact with the patient.” To that end, the company invested in training programs both for immunizing patients and medication therapy management. Result: all but about 30 of its roughly 800 pharmacists now are certified to provide vaccinations, and some 400 are MTM-qualified.

Winn-Dixie has launched WD RxConnect, a centralized prescription record system. Also relatively new is an automated, phone-based refill reminder program and an optional program called Ready Refill that automatically refills maintenance meds. Capping the latest efforts was the unveiling last year of a store prototype that showcases the chain’s “Fresh & Local” market image.

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