PHARMACY

NACDS: Research article supports MTM eligibility criteria reform for seniors

BY Antoinette Alexander

ARLINGTON, Va. — Reform of eligibility criteria for MTM services would improve access to care for seniors and boost medication adherence, according to an article co-authored by Laura Miller, senior economist with the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.

The article — titled “Should Eligibility for Medication Therapy Management be Based on Drug Adherence?” — is in the January 2014 Journal of Managed Care Pharmacy.

The article bolsters support for MTM as a key to better and more affordable health care, and backs reform of eligibility criteria to make MTM available to more Medicare beneficiaries. According to the article, MTM services would reach more patients with a history of not taking their medications correctly if eligibility requirements were changed to include Medicare Part D beneficiaries who take two prescription drugs. Currently, patients must take eight prescription medications to be eligible for MTM services under most Part D plans.

“Our findings suggest that current MTM eligibility criteria are not optimally targeted to capture underuse of and poor adherence to evidence-based medications for prevalent chronic diseases in the elderly,” the article concludes.

This latest article supplements a growing body of evidence that improving medication adherence — including use of MTM to help patients take medications as prescribed — helps to enhance patient health and improve healthcare affordability. Reports by the Congressional Budget Office and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, as well as articles in Health Affairs and the Journal of American Pharmacists, offer further support that appropriate medication use can improve health while lowering costs.

The increasing focus on MTM also has included action in the legislative and executive branches of government, with initiatives underway to refine eligibility criteria for MTM within Medicare.

Bipartisan support continues to grow for the proposed Medication Therapy Management Empowerment Act of 2013 (H.R. 1024 and S. 557). The legislation enjoys the co-sponsorship of 159 members of the U.S. House of Representatives and 30 members of the U.S. Senate — more than 35% of the Congress, NACDS stated. In addition, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services projects that MTM eligibility changes included in its Medicare Part D proposed rule published last week could increase the number of eligible beneficiaries from 2.5 million to 18 million.

“These efforts by Congress and the Administration to improve access to MTM are good public policy and wise strategies for improving the quality and cost-effectiveness of public health,” said NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson. “Pharmacists are widely trusted healthcare professionals with extensive education. They are trained medication specialists who work collaboratively with physicians and with other healthcare professionals to help patients use medicines safely and stay healthy.”

 

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Walgreens donates 3 million vaccines in partnership with the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens on Wednesday announced it is donating the value of 3 million vaccines for children in developing countries upon successful completion of its immunizations campaign developed in partnership with the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign.

Walgreens pledged to donate the value of one vaccine through Shot@Life for each immunization the company administered from Sept. 4 through Oct. 14, with a goal to reach three million vaccines to benefit children in developing countries by protecting them against such diseases as measles and polio. 

“We’re proud to have been a part of the Shot@Life campaign with the UN Foundation, and I want to thank our customers who came in for flu shots and vaccines,” said Kermit Crawford, Walgreens president of pharmacy, health and wellness. “This program is a great example of how large organizations and individuals can come together to improve the delivery of preventive care. At Walgreens, we’re very pleased to help these vaccines get to the children who need them.” 

“By expanding access to vaccines, we have the ability to save a child’s life every 20 seconds from a preventable life-threatening disease, like measles, pneumonia, diarrhea and polio,” said Kathy Calvin, president and CEO of the United Nations Foundation. “Working in partnership with Walgreens, we raised awareness among its loyal customers of the importance of vaccines for the health of children in developing countries, and together with our United Nations partners we have given three million children around the world an opportunity at a healthy life.”

Shot@Life statistics show 1-in-5 children worldwide lack access to life-saving immunizations, and a child dies every 20 seconds from a vaccine-preventable disease.

In the United States, Walgreens is in its fourth year of a flu shot voucher program developed in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, through which one million vouchers have now been distributed. This season, Walgreens distributed more than 400,000 flu shot vouchers to Americans without health insurance or coverage for a flu shot, providing free access to individuals and families in need. HHS assisted in the voucher program effort in markets across the country.

“Since this innovative partnership began in 2010, hundreds of thousands of uninsured men, women and children have accessed vouchers and received free flu shots,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “In the face of persistent disparities in influenza vaccination coverage — especially among adults — this initiative is a promising example of how we are working with partners to expand access to important preventive services for our most vulnerable and underserved communities.”

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Meijer offers free flu, strep tests and dispenses drugs at some Mich. stores as part of NACDS Foundation-supported study

BY Alaric DeArment

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — With cases of influenza rising across the Midwest, mass-merchandise retailer Meijer is participating in a new study by offering free testing for flu and strep throat at its stores in Michigan and allowing its pharmacists to dispense prescription drugs as necessary under a protocol developed by a physician who’s also involved, the 204-store chain said Wednesday.

Under the program, pharmacists at Meijer’s stores will administer the tests and, in some cases, fill a prescription for flu drugs under a protocol set by a physician participating in a study for which Meijer is collaborating with Ferris State University and the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy to examine the effectiveness of rapid diagnostic testing and the process by which medicines are administered to patients for influenza and strep throat in pharmacies.

"This is not a replacement of physician services," Meijer VP pharmacy operations Karen Mankowski said. "Increasing accessibility to testing for flu and strep throat and enabling pharmacists to work from those results means that patients might self-treat symptoms less and get better more quickly. That decreases the risk of spreading those common illnesses and allows doctors and nurse practitioners to provide care to patients with more complicated conditions."

Before the study, pharmacists at the retailer underwent a training certification program developed by a team from the two universities and sanctioned by the Michigan Pharmacists Association to administer the noninvasive Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment-waived rapid tests.

"Many of us forget how many people come to the pharmacy first anyway when they have symptoms for flu and strep," said UNMC physician and principal study investigator Donald Klepser, who is conducting the study on a grant from the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Foundation. "Stand at your pharmacy during cold and flu season and see how many people ask the pharmacist, ‘What should I take for this?’"

 

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