NACDS president issues call to action to aggressively advocate on behalf of community pharmacy
ALEXANDRIA, Va. Steve Anderson, National Association of Chain Drug Stores president and chief executive officer, issued a call to action to attendees of this year’s Pharmacy & Technology Conference to aggressively advocate on behalf of community pharmacy. Anderson called on those affiliated with pharmacy care to become active with the issues and to stay active.
“An association is only as strong as its members and any campaign needs willing foot soldiers. We have to speak with one, consistent voice about the value of pharmacy — to policymakers, to legislators, to opinion leaders, to educators, to the media and to consumers,” he said. “We, in community pharmacy, will never earn the influence we need or the respect we deserve if we don’t do a better job of telling our story. With federal and state governments making nearly half of all healthcare payments in the U.S., and in an industry literally shaped by government rules and regulations, the biggest mistake we can make is to communicate too little.”
“NACDS is making changes. They are designed to fully leverage our numbers to communicate the value of pharmacy. Another goal is to demonstrate the extent to which misguided policy decisions threaten Americans’ access to pharmacy services. Given that next year marks the 75 th Anniversary of NACDS, we will have an opportunity to reflect on the past. But, more importantly, we must look to the future,” said Anderson.
Anderson invited attendees to join in NACDS’ work to shape the debate on policy issues, demonstrating the work of community pharmacy to enhance health care, while battling against counterproductive policies. He cited U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt’s nationwide initiative for better health care at lower costs, entitled the Four Cornerstones: interoperable health information technology, the measurement and publishing of information about quality of care, the measurement and publishing of price information, and promoting quality and efficiency of care.
Anderson applauded the underlying idea, but commented, “Collaboration with the federal government must be a two-way street, and the government is prone to veer off track. The government cannot talk about the cornerstones in one breath, and then put forward policies that fly in the face of the objectives.”
“We’re committed to delivering value. But laws, regulations and governmental reimbursement rates should not undermine and ignore the value and potential of community pharmacy. NACDS would rather be working with health officials as partners than waging battles, but sometimes battle we must.”
Anderson highlighted NACDS’ successes that are already in line with Secretary Leavitt’s cornerstones. NACDS has been cited for its role in educating seniors about Medicare Part D.
Anderson also highlighted NACDS’ role when it comes to technology.
“NACDS has been a leader in promoting electronic prescribing through our association with SureScripts. Our member pharmacies have led the industry in adopting this technology and encouraging physicians to use it.
Anderson called the cornerstones worthy of collaboration with NACDS, but at the same time noted a specific example of contradictory policy. He blasted Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ final rule to implement Medicaid prescription pharmacy reimbursement provisions of the Deficit Reduction Act.
“The government establishes Medicaid prescription reimbursement for pharmacies on a basis that is far removed from actual costs; and it intends to publish this flawed information on the Internet, which could mislead the health care system and consumers about the prices of their necessary prescriptions. So, we’re supposed to provide prescriptions through the Medicaid system below cost and put this on the Internet—and that’s good policy?” said Anderson.
Despite this misstep, Anderson looks forward to working with Secretary Leavitt to help accomplish the goals set forth in the cornerstone plan.
Concluding his remarks this morning, Anderson said, “I hope that we can count on your input and participation so that we together find opportunities in challenging times.”
Cardinal Health bolsters clinic program
INDIANAPOLIS —Many industry observers may not be familiar with Corner Care Clinic, but that is likely to change as Cardinal Health has formed an alliance with, and is a minority investor in, the clinic operator.
Cardinal Health teamed up with Indianapolis-based clinic operator MindGent Healthcare Clinic’s Corner Care Clinic to open in October 2006 the first retail-based clinic. Today, there are 27 walk-in clinic locations.
Corner Care Clinic operates locations in Indiana, Ohio, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina, Illinois and New York.
The clinics are located within select Medicine Shoppe, Medicap and independent Leader pharmacies, as well as two Kerr Drug stores and, coming in September, two Drug Fair locations.
The goal: to open an additional six to 12 clinics by year’s end. Going forward, Corner Care Clinic would like to open between 60 and 100 clinics a year.
“When we first made the decision to throw our hat into the ring…we wanted to find a partner whom we felt shared the same vision and mission that we had,” health care veteran and president and chief executive officer of Corner Care Clinic, Julie Beckner, told Drug Store News.
Signifying not only a shift in the health care industry toward convenient health and wellness offerings, but also signifying the key role Corner Care Clinic will play in the Cardinal Health portfolio, Corner Care Clinic participated in the Cardinal Health Retail Business Conference held last month at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston.
As is common of the acute care retail clinic model, Corner Care Clinics are staffed by nurse practitioners that treat such common ailments as strep throat and pink eye, and also provide vaccinations, physicals and screenings for such conditions as diabetes and blood pressure. The average cost ranges between $55 and $75.
Aiming to educate its independent pharmacies on the opportunity, Cardinal Health introduced the clinics, as well as other offerings, at the 18th annual RBC. Touted as the latest addition to Leader Total Pharmacy Manager, Cardinal’s suite of services to help independent pharmacies bolster revenue and drive productivity, the in-store clinics provide yet another way for its retail pharmacy customers to expand their health care reach and better serve their communities. Currently, more than 3,000 independents are part of Cardinal’s Leader pharmacy network.
Meanwhile, Corner Care Clinic has been working to bolster its management team, last month announcing two key executive moves.
Assuming the role of corporate director of marketing for Corner Care Clinic is Mike Milakis. Previously, he served as owner, president and creative director for M&M Advertising for 11 years. During his career, Milakis has worked with more than 50 different hospital, insurance, pharmaceutical and health care-related clients, including Eli Lilly,I.U. Medical Center and University of Chicago Hospitals.
Corner Care Clinic also has promoted Mark Rollins to chief medical officer of the company. Previously, he served as Corner Care Clinic’s medical director.
Prior to joining Corner Care Clinic, Rollins, a board-certified physician, served as chief of medicine at Marion General Hospital in Marion, Ind.
In a recent interview with Drug Store News, Keith Cook, who joined Medicine Shoppe International in late 2006 as vice president of pharmacy solutions, said the partnership is important to Cardinal Health’s MSI division because there is a real “need in the community” for convenient and affordable acute care.
“There are some counties where there is not even a hospital within a 30-mile radius of our store. So ER visits are very difficult for some of our regular patients that we see every day. And there’s also the current health care situation in America. It isn’t easy to get in and get an appointment immediately when you need minor care. So the need was there, and it fit very nicely into our business model,” Cook said. “The reason we like [Corner Care Clinic] as a partner is that they do a very good job of working with the local physician community, and that was really important to us.”
Added Beckner, stressing the importance of working with the local medical community, “[Corner Care Clinics] addresses a real need, but we also are a physician advocate.”
Respiratory drug sales climb as asthma, COPD cases rise
The global respiratory drug market is projected to exceed sales of $44 billion by 2010, according to market research firm Kalorama Information.
As the incidence of lung and breathing-related illnesses climb around the world, drug sales in the segment have continued to rise as well. Kalorama researchers report that sales have increased at the rate of 11 percent annually, from $19 billion in 2000 to $32 billion in 2005.
Asthma, a leading respiratory disease, was diagnosed in 19.8 million people in the United States in 2003, with 11 million experiencing an asthma attack in the previous year, according to the most current statistics from the Centers for Disease Control. In 2002, asthma accounted for 12.7 million doctor visits, 1.2 million hospital outpatient visits, 1.9 million emergency room visits and 484,000 hospitalizations.
An illness that affects the lungs, asthma is the most common long-term disease of children. Symptoms include wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness and nighttime or early morning coughing. Asthma always is present, but a patient will suffer attacks only when the lungs are stimulated. Triggers include: tobacco smoke, dust mites, air pollution, cockroaches and their droppings, furry pets and mold. Also, physical exertion, high emotional states or extreme temperatures can lead to an attack.
Treatments fall into two categories: long-term control drugs and quick-relief drugs, such as inhalers. Asthma cannot be cured.
Meanwhile, another respiratory disease that often is confused with asthma is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and that afflicts another 20 million Americans.
Top-ranked treatments for asthma and COPD posted strong global sales results last year. Advair grew 11.7 percent to $6 billion, Singulair climbed 20 percent to $3.6 billion, Zyrtec rose 12 percent to $2.5 billion, Spiriva shot up 48.5 percent to $1.6 billion, Pulmicort rose 11.2 percent to $1.3 billion and Flixotide increased 4.5 percent to $1.2 billion, according to market research firm Wood Mackenzie.