PHARMACY

NYC Mayor calls for city-wide electronic patient tracking

BY Drew Buono

NEW YORK Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on Monday that New York City would be starting to offer doctors computer software that can track patients’ medical records in order to provide better preventive care, according to The New York Times.

“People keep talking around in circles and no one ever does anything and it just keeps getting worse and worse,” Bloomberg said. “By bringing this health technology to New Yorkers, we are building a national model for a health care system that works, by preventing illness rather than merely treating people after they’re already sick.

The new system is being developed with $30 million from the city and another $30 million from the state and federal governments.

Among its important advances, city officials said, the system will give up-to-date information to doctors through a series of alerts, like overdue dates on prescriptions or cholesterol checks. It will share data with other doctors and provide information about the current best practices for treating illnesses. City officials hope that the system will help reduce overall costs by eliminating expensive and repetitive tests.

Two hundred doctors with 200,000 patients have committed to use the system, and the city hopes to have 1,000 doctors with one million patients using it by the end of the year, said Thomas Frieden, the New York City health commissioner.

To encourage doctors to use the system, the city will underwrite part of the expense for eligible doctors, paying for licenses, on-site training and tools to use the software and two years of maintenance and support.

Any doctor who has a practice in which 30 percent of the patients are either uninsured or on Medicaid is eligible for the assistance, but the city is also asking that they provide their own computers, and contribute $4,000 to the Fund for Public Health in New York for continuing technical support.

Bloomberg called for setting a national goal of requiring every doctor who gets reimbursed from Medicaid and Medicare to be using an electronic medical record system by 2012.

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FDA to closer scrutinize consumer drug advertisements

BY Drew Buono

WASHINGTON The Food and Drug Administration’s current budget for reviewing consumer drug advertisements is larger this year than the previous five years combined, according to USA TODAY.

The FDA received $6.1 million for the current fiscal year to check the fairness and accuracy of consumer drug ads. That’s up from $2.2 million the previous year and $1 million the year before.

The FDA says it plans to hire more people so it can review more ads. It has 13 workers devoted to policing direct-to-consumer ad materials, six of which are primary reviewers. Last year, the FDA received 12,616 drug ad materials.

The FDA has been so overwhelmed by drug industry ad materials that only a “small portion” is reviewed, the Government Accountability Office said in a 2006 report. The FDA often didn’t declare consumer ads false or misleading until after ad campaigns were over, the GAO said.

President Bush’s proposed 2009 budget calls for $14 million from user fees to fund 27 FDA positions devoted to the consumer-ad-review program. In exchange, the FDA would review TV drug ads within 45 days of getting them from drugmakers — which is faster than many reviews occur now — and before the ads are seen by millions of viewers.

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BY Drew Buono

HOUSTON The Professional Compounding Centers of America has named John Herr its recipient of the Dr. M. George Webber Compounding Pharmacist of the Year, an award that is presented annually to an independent pharmacist who has demonstrated service excellence to patients, healthcare providers and pharmacy colleagues.

L. David Sparks, PCCA’s president/chief executive officer, presented the award to Herr during the company’s International Seminar held in Houston in January 2008. “This year, we recognize a pharmacist who has become one of our profession’s most respected compounders,” Sparks declared. “His colleagues appreciate his generosity and willingness to share and network with them. His pharmacy staff respects his dedication to compounding, compassion for patients and concern for their own well being as his employees. His patients and prescribers appreciate his ability to solve specific medication needs in a high-quality manner.”

Herr has been a registered pharmacist for more than 20 years, and has been an owner of Town & Country Pharmacy since 1999. He is the recipient of several recognition awards for his outstanding service in his practice of the art and science of pharmacy compounding, including the New Jersey Hospice and Palliative Care Organization’s 1998 Hospice Team Award for outstanding leadership as a Hospice Pharmacist.

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