PHARMACY

NCPA Digest: Community pharmacists promote Rx adherence; generic drug savings

BY Antoinette Alexander

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Independent community pharmacies are increasingly providing services to support patient medication adherence and set a new record high in the proportion of prescriptions filled with typically lower-cost generic drugs, according to the National Community Pharmacists Association's 2014 Digest, sponsored by Cardinal Health.

"According to the Digest, locally owned pharmacies are playing an even more integral role in U.S. health care," said NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey. "Community pharmacists are more often counseling patients to improve medication adherence and more frequently conferring with physicians on ways to improve the outcomes of prescription drug therapy. Small business community pharmacies make important economic and civic contributions to their hometowns as well," the Digest shows.

According to the Digest, 67% of independent community pharmacies are offering patients some type of medication adherence program, which represents a substantial increase over the survey's past two annual findings of 48% and 39%, respectively. These pharmacists are counseling patients, sending text reminders, calling patients, and providing other tools to improve medication adherence among their patients. In addition, the Digest found that generic drugs accounted for 78% of total prescriptions, another increase over prior years.

"We realize that community pharmacists play a unique role in helping improve our nation's healthcare system," said Ron Clerico, VP of retail marketing at Cardinal Health. "Health care is changing and we must evolve to meet new expectations. It is more important than ever for community pharmacies to understand the current thinking and trends. The NCPA Digest is an excellent resource that encourages pharmacy owners to think differently about their business with ideas, such as exploring services tailored to the needs of their community and participating in Medicare drug plan star ratings in order to thrive in today's competitive market. This is why Cardinal Health is proud to once again sponsor the NCPA Digest, a comprehensive report to help pharmacy owners make smarter business decisions."

Other highlights from the Digest, which analyzed 2013 data (the most current full-year data available), include:

  • There are an estimated 22,814 independent community pharmacies, which is a slight reduction from the previous tally of 23,029;
  • Prescription volume remained relatively flat (62,424 prescriptions annually on average) despite a growth in overall U.S. prescriptions, possibly due to insurance plan requirements or other inducements for patients to fill certain prescriptions, including specialty drugs through proprietary mail order facilities as well as exclusionary "preferred pharmacy" networks in Medicare;
  • These pharmacists interact with physicians 8.7 times daily on average on prescription drug therapy, compared with 7.5 in the last Digest survey. These doctors agree with and implement pharmacists' generic product recommendations 91% of the time and other therapeutic recommendations 78% of the time;
  • More than 70% of independent pharmacies are serving areas with population less than 50,000 and 36% are located in areas with a population less than 10,000, underscoring that these providers are often a critical access point to health care. It's in these communities that pharmacy small business owners have their greatest impact, not only economically by creating employment opportunities and generating tax revenue but also through civic contributions; and
  • In addition to providing prescription drugs, community pharmacies' offered a range of personalized health services, the most common of which were same-day, home delivery, followed by patient charge accounts and durable medical equipment. Many community pharmacies also host disease state management services — the three most prevalent were immunizations (62%), blood pressure monitoring (59%), and diabetes training (37%).
     

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Pharmacy Technician Certification Board announces 2014 PTCB Certified Pharmacy Technician of the Year

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board on Tuesday announced that Hannah Peabody of East Syracuse, N.Y., was selected as the 2014 PTCB Certified Pharmacy Technician of the Year. 
 
Peabody is the Certified Pharmacy Technician at The Patient Rx Center of Hematology/Oncology Associates of Central New York, a private practice with more than 40 providers seeing 4,500 patients annually. She has helped secure more than $1.3 million in financial support to assist patients filling their prescriptions at HOACNY’s center. 
 
“The ever-rising costs of oral oncolytics makes it difficult for many patients to obtain their essential therapies without financial assistance,” Peabody said. “Working closely with patients to secure their funding while providing emotional and educational support makes my role as a CPhT truly fulfilling. The effort to secure patient funding is a multifaceted mission that includes navigating the prior authorization process, continually communicating with providers, and managing multiple applications.” Peabody works with a variety of funding sources, including the Chronic Disease Fund, Patient Access Network, Patient Advocate Foundation, Health Well Foundation, Patient Services Inc. and pharmaceutical company programs. 
 
 
PTCB's CPhT of the Year Program honors and recognizes individual achievement in patient care as a way to encourage excellence among all pharmacy technicians. "PTCB is pleased to name an individual who exemplifies innovation, initiative and commitment as the 2014 PTCB CPhT of the Year,” said Everett McAllister, executive director and CEO of PTCB. “Hannah Peabody has distinguished herself by making a difference in the lives of patients undergoing treatments for a range of complex cancers and other disorders. These treatments are life changing, and Ms. Peabody has made them accessible to many who would have been refused treatment elsewhere.” 
 
Peabody will be recognized at a PTCB event on Dec. 9 at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists Midyear Clinical Meeting and Exposition in Anaheim, Calif. 
 
“I try to do whatever is possible to obtain all the help patients require to cover their treatments,” Peabody said. “For example, a patient in her 20s was treated here for non-Hodgkin lymphoma, but she couldn’t afford her $500 injection refills to increase white blood cell production following chemotherapy.” After assistance for this patient was repeatedly denied, Peabody ultimately found financial help. “Now our patient feels great, her hair has grown back, and she’s continuing in college. She wants to help other people going through the same thing.”
 
Hired to create an oncology physician dispensing platform, Peabody worked with her pharmacy manager, Michael Reff, and an oncology nurse navigator, Deborah Walters, to implement and execute new systems focused on accuracy, increased oral compliance, medication affordability and patient convenience. Peabody’s personal priority is close relationships with her patients. “Patients are as likely to want to tell me they have a new dog as they are to say they’re on a new treatment. Personal relationships translate into better compliance and better health. Patients call me about difficult medication side effects because they trust our team will help them feel better. We do, so they stick with their therapies.”  
 
Peabody sees future roles expanding for CPhTs. “As pharmacists get busier with immunizations and medication therapy management, CPhTs must step up. In the future, it would be great if CPhTs were more knowledgeable about accessing funds for patients in need,” she said. Peabody led the development of a Pharmacy Technician Excellence Program at HOACNY, and senior management has endorsed the program, which outlines career steps for CPhTs at the practice.
 
More than 450 CPhTs were nominated for the 2014 PTCB CPhT of the Year from all pharmacy settings. PTCB selected seven candidates to appear on an online ballot for public voting. The other six finalists were CPhTs Alexander Faulkner of Ann Arbor, Mich.; Michael Greene of Brentwood, N.Y.; Johnathan Gunn of Yorktown, Va.; Melinda Mowbray of Harrison, Va.; Alexandra Reyes of San Antonio, Texas; and Andreea Tudosie of Plymouth, Minn. 
 
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McKesson employees give back for 16th Community Days program

BY Michael Johnsen

SAN FRANCISCO — From Oct. 27 through Nov. 1, 2014, more than 11,000 McKesson employees at more than 170 locations across the United States will participate in the 16th Community Days program, an annual company event. During Community Days, employees will gather for large group volunteer projects benefiting local communities where they live and work. This year, employees nationwide will help create more than 18,000 warm scarves and 36,000 hand-written cards containing comforting messages for cancer patients, which will be included as part of cancer care packages distributed through Giving Comfort, a program of the McKesson Foundation.
 
Each year, 1.6 million people in the United States are newly diagnosed with cancer. Giving Comfort was established to provide cancer patients with care packages, called "Comfort Kits," filled with the most needed and requested items to provide comfort and relief during chemotherapy treatment. 
 
"While the search for a cure continues, patients fighting cancer need our help right now," said Elizabeth Howland, managing director of Giving Comfort. "We surveyed hundreds of cancer patients and oncology professionals and found that small items of comfort can help patients endure tough times. We are hopeful the efforts of McKesson employees nationwide and Giving Comfort's Comfort Kits will help make treatment more bearable for these patients."
 
Nearly one quarter of people with cancer will exhaust all of their savings as a result of treatment costs, even with insurance. As many as 11% of cancer patients cannot afford food and basic necessities due to treatment costs. Giving Comfort provides relief to these patients through the items included in the Comfort Kits, such as a warm blanket, toiletries, a warm cap, a journal and other frequently requested items.
 
Through generous donations by individuals and the support of the McKesson Foundation, Comfort Kits are provided to patients in need free of charge. Individual donations go directly to purchasing and shipping Comfort Kits to patients. The Kits are delivered into the hands of patients through Giving Comfort's partnerships with organizations in more than 165 locations — such as the American Cancer Society, Ronald McDonald Houses and the Mayo Clinic — across 33 states.
 
In addition to providing donated kits, Giving Comfort provides an e-store that allows individuals to purchase a Comfort Kit online for a friend or loved one, regardless of income, and have the gift sent directly to the recipient's home or hospital room with a personal note enclosed. All of the proceeds from  kit sales go directly back into supporting Giving Comfort's Comfort Kits for low-income patients.
 
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