HEALTH

NCPA to HHS: Pharmacists are allies in health-reform shift to preventive care

BY Jim Frederick

ALEXANDRIA, Va. The reformed U.S. healthcare system could unleash a surge in patient demand for preventive care services, and community pharmacists should be part of any plan to meet that demand, the independent pharmacy lobby told Obama administration health officials.

That message came from the National Community Pharmacists Association in comments recently submitted to the Department of Health and Human Services. The group urged the officials implementing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to make full use of community pharmacists in the nation’s increasing reliance on preventive care — particularly if the health-reform law encourages patients to take advantage of low-cost health-and-wellness services provided through federally funded programs.

The NCPA weighed in after HHS issued a proposed interim final rule on the implementation of the massive health-reform act. The agency is recommending that participating health plans and insurers waive patient co-pays for certain recommended preventive services and vaccines.

“Examples of preventative services commonly available at community pharmacies include blood pressure and cholesterol screening, tobacco cessation and obesity-related counseling and intervention,” the NCPA noted. “The HHS requirement would apply to private, nongrandfathered group health plans and health insurance issuers offering group or individual health insurance coverage through the health insurance exchanges scheduled to take effect in 2014.”

The independent pharmacy group is asking HHS to make two adjustments to its proposed rule. One, the NCPA told the agency, is to “modify the rule to allow patients to receive certain preventative services from any qualified provider [including community pharmacies] without incurring a co-payment.” The group also urged HHS to “actively promote a more collaborative approach to healthcare services by encouraging health plans to enlist the services of allied healthcare providers, such as pharmacists, to help provide community-based preventative care services to plan enrollees.”

An initial investment in preventative care services, the NCPA noted in its comments, “can reap many downstream benefits, including demonstrable improvement in patient care outcomes, a reduction in hospital re-admissions and ultimately savings due to lower healthcare costs.”

“Just as the practice of medicine has undergone a change in focus from treatment of disease states to preventative care, pharmacy has gone from an emphasis on medication dispensing to one of effective medication use and achieving optimal patient outcomes,” the group told HHS officials.

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Price Chopper expands Diabetes AdvantEdge program with free offerings

BY Alaric DeArment

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. Insulin-dependent diabetics will be eligible to receive free syringes and pen needles from Price Chopper, the Northeast supermarket chain said.

Price Chopper said the expansion of its Diabetes AdvantEdge program meant that it could serve 100% of the population that manages diabetes with increased access to medication, supplies, support and information, as well as education on food, nutrition and diabetes management.

“Diabetes AdvantEdge has been so well-received by those managing diabetes, as well as members of the healthcare community, that several chain drug stores have attempted to follow suit,” Price Chopper VP pharmacy Vincent Mainella said. “As a supermarket, however, we differentiate ourselves by providing a wide variety of fresh and packaged foods coupled with open access to our health professionals, registered dietitians and nutrition specialists.”

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Prestige Brands to acquire Blacksmith Brands for $190 million

BY Michael Johnsen

IRVINGTON, N.Y. Prestige Brands on Monday announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire 100% of the stock of Blacksmith Brands for $190 million in cash. Blacksmith manages five over-the-counter brands, including Efferdent, Effergrip, PediaCare, Luden’s and NasalCrom.

 

With the addition of these five brands, OTC products in the Prestige portfolio now account for 75% of revenues and an even greater percentage of brand contribution.

 

“Strategic acquisitions in the OTC market are core to our shareholder value creation strategy,” stated Matthew Mannelly, Prestige CEO. "We are strengthening Prestige’s position in key categories with the additions of Efferdent, PediaCare and Luden’s. These three scale brands compete in attractive categories we know well.”

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including clearance under the Hart-Scott Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, and is expected to close during fourth quarter 2010.

In June, Blacksmith Brands had voluntarily recalled all lots of its four children’s products in the PediaCare line, which were being manufactured for Blacksmith Brands by McNeil Consumer Healthcare at McNeil’s now-closed Fort Washington, Pa., plant. That recall was not initiated as a result of any consumer reports of adverse events, and no consumer complaints have been received about the safety or purity of the products, the company stated at the time.

 

In line with the announcement of the Blacksmith transaction, Prestige also announced the divestiture of its Cutex line of nail polish removers, the largest remaining product in its personal care segment. The sale to Arch Equity Partners of St. Louis was effective Sept. 1.

 

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