NACDS speakers look to the future
BOSTON The NACDS Pharmacy and Technology Conference kicked off Sunday morning with heavy hitters from the retail sector. A recurring theme amongst all the speakers was the huge prospects ahead for pharmacy—providing the all the segments of the industry work together and devise a game plan that looks beyond the now and creates a strategic framework for doing business 10 years down the road.
Bob Dufour, director of pharmacy, professional services and government affairs for Wal-Mart Stores, set the tone for the program with his opening statements. “We have to recognize the tremendous opportunity we have as American business and government to improve the quality of the lives of the people in the country.” Dufour noted that it would be here in Boston over the next three days where conference attendees—numbering 2,700 representatives from 360 supplier companies and 150 retail chain pharmacies—would have the conversations that will lay the groundwork for that future plan.
Dufour was followed by Dave Bernauer, former head of Walgreens and current chairman of the board for NACDS. He started by thanking past NACDS chairmen Tony Civello and Bob Hannan for their efforts in making policymakers aware of the critical role pharmacists play in the healthcare equation. “Tony, Bob and the NACDS staff set the stage for the impact we are having on the Hill.”
The industry veteran cited a recent victory in the form of legislation introduced on Aug. 2 by Sen. Max Baucus, chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance, that looks to reverse some of the most damaging policies imposed under government cost-cutting efforts aimed at prescriptions dispensed under Medicaid.
Bernauer, however, cautioned that getting proposed legislation into law requires a tremendous amount of work and that the industry must prepare for “the greatest grassroots effort in the history of NACDS.”
The next topic the NACDS chairman touched on was the tremendous change taking place in the industry. He noted that within just a year’s time CVS Caremark was created to bring better results and efficiencies to the market, Wal-Mart launched its $4 generics plan and that retail clinics have grown from 150 sites to over 500 in 15 community pharmacy companies. Last year pharma invested $55 billion on R&D and the industry is, now more than ever, building momentum toward e-prescribing.
There is a tendency for everyone to “let the urgent push aside the important,” noted Bernauer, but it’s time to think about 2012 because the next five years will go by fast. And most of that change will be driven by technology. “The adoption of technology takes a long time and we need to get it right the first time,” he added.
Bernauer then outlined three areas where the industry should focus its efforts:
- The growing concern of counterfeit drugs. It is necessary to ensure the safety of the drug supply but not through systems that add expense without generating real benefits. “We need to take the lead in getting this right and set the standard today using technology like RFID that can take hundreds of millions of dollars [of costs] out of the pipeline.”
- E-prescribing. “This month 3 million scripts will be sent to stores … e-prescribing is on the verge of exploding,” said Bernauer. Statistics surrounding e-prescribing are compelling. Eleven percent more scripts make it from the doctor’s office to the pharmacy through e-prescribing. Adoption is only part of the plan. Promotion is important as is training personnel behind the counter.
- Patient adherence to drug therapy. As an example of the lack of drug compliance by patients Bernauer used a study of heart attack suffers who were prescribed beta blockers. Taking beta blockers would reduce the risk of a second attack by 30 percent but after a year only 46 percent were still taking beta blockers appropriately. The time saved by adopting technology could be re-invested in intervention and drug therapy management, Bernauer noted.
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.