PHARMACY

NACDS, NCPA praise new MTM bill

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — A bill that would expand the pool of patients who qualify for medication therapy management under Medicare was introduced to the House of Representatives Thursday with broad industry support. 

Health policy research group NEHI cites that only 50% of patients take their medications properly as prescribed by their doctor, which costs the nation more than $290 billion annually in avoidable health spending annually. 

“We all acknowledge the tremendous advancements that have been made in medicine, but more than half of all patients do not take their medications correctly — and seniors are particularly vulnerable,” stated McMorris Rodgers. “These health risks and the exorbitant costs associated with them can be substantially reduced if MTM is expanded," she said. "This bill will reduce costs and promote overall health for seniors … all across America.”

"This bill can help patients understand the importance of taking their medications as prescribed,” stated Steven Anderson, president and CEO of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores. “Innovative pharmacy services such as MTM help to improve patient health and healthcare affordability, especially for those suffering from chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, asthma and other conditions.”  

“Allowing more Medicare beneficiaries to receive one-on-one medication counseling from their trusted pharmacist will ensure that more seniors are taking their medication properly," added Douglas Hoey, CEO of the National Community Pharmacists Association. 

In November the Congressional Budget Office released a report finding that after a review of recent research, CBO estimated that for each 1% increase in overall prescription drug utilization, an overall decrease of $1.7 billion in overall healthcare costs, or a savings of $5.76 for every person in the United States, would be realized. And NCPA cited research in Minnesota indicating that the cost savings from MTM can be as high as a 12-to-1 return-on-investment for MTM. In North Carolina, Kerr Drug reported that MTM programs there helped seniors realize a 13-to-1 return, the association noted. 

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Mhealth market to see strong revenue growth through 2017, study finds

BY Alaric DeArment

BERLIN — The global market for mobile health app services is expected to reach $26 billion by 2017 as smartphone applications allow the mhealth industry to successfully monetize its services, according to a new report.

Global Mobile Health Market Report 2013-2017, announced Friday by Berlin-based mobile market research firm Research2guidance, found that top mhealth publishers manage to generate more than 3 million free and 300,000 paid downloads in the United States on the Apple iOS platform.

"Our findings indicate that the long-expected mobile revolution in healthcare is set to happen," Research2guidance head of research Ralf-Gordon Jahns said. "Both healthcare providers and consumers are embracing smartphones as a means to improve healthcare."

The study found that in addition to use of mhealth applications by consumers, 15% of them are primarily designed for healthcare professionals, including continuing education, remote monitoring and healthcare management applications. There are currently 97,000 mhealth applications in major app stores, with 42% of them being based on paid business models.

"With the growing level of mhealth applications, only 9% of the total market revenue in the next five years will come from application download revenue," Research2guidance analyst Patrick Houck said. "Eighty-four percent of total mhealth application market revenue will come from related services and products such as sensors."

 

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Multiple cost-management programs can reduce specialty drug spending, report finds

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — Employers that use multiple cost-management programs have a 50% lower specialty drug trend than those that don’t use them, according to a new study by pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts.

The study, presented Thursday at the National Business Group on Health’s Business Health Agenda 2013 conference in Washington, was described as one of the first to examine the effect of multiple utilization management programs on the cost of specialty medications, which is expected to account for $1 out of every $4 spent on prescription drugs by 2014.

Researchers at the PBM analyzed the specialty drug spending of 60 employer clients who were members of the NBGH, representing more than 5 million Americans with pharmacy benefits; employers were categorized according to the type of cost-management programs they adopted, including unmanaged, somewhat managed and tightly managed. Unmanaged programs included those in which employers’ health plan members could obtain their specialty drugs from any pharmacy; in somewhat managed programs, members used a specialty pharmacy exclusively and one specialty utilization management program; and in tightly managed programs, members used a specialty pharmacy exclusively, combined with multiple specialty utilization management programs.

Employers classified as unmanaged experienced an annual average increase in specialty drug spending per member per year of 27.8%, while those that were tightly managed saw an increase of 13.6%. Overall, according to Express Scripts’ "2012 Drug Trend Report," the increase in spending on specialty drugs was 18.4% last year, compared with 17.1% in 2011. Meanwhile, spending on traditional drugs decreased for the first time, by 1.5%, mostly due to generics.

"Specialty drug costs and use have escalated without sufficient oversight to manage waste or misuse of these expensive medications," Express Scripts SVP clinical research and new solutions Glen Stettin said. "Add in the impact of bad health decisions, and you get both poor financial and clinical outcomes. This data clearly demonstrates that multiple progressive management solutions mitigate the rising cost of specialty therapies by identifying and seizing cost-saving opportunities, as well as enabling better decisions that can lead to improved health outcomes."

Price inflation, increasing utilization and new drug introductions are among the many factors that contribute to the rising costs of specialty medications for hard-to-treat diseases like cancer, hepatitis C and multiple sclerosis, and these medications can cost up to $100,000 per person per year, according to the study.

Medications for inflammatory conditions, multiple sclerosis, cancer and HIV accounted for nearly 70% of annual spending on specialty drugs, according to Express Scripts.

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