PHARMACY

Oregon gov. signs legislation to expand access to pharmacists’ patient care services

BY Antoinette Alexander

WASHINGTON — Earlier this month, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed landmark legislation into law that helps expand patient access to pharmacists' patient care services. The legislation, HB 2028, which passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, permits insurance carriers to add pharmacists to its network of providers and expands existing laws related to collaborative drug therapy management among other wins.

Through the legislation, patients will have access to the specialized care services pharmacists provide including medication management, disease prevention and wellness and post-diagnostic disease management. Pharmacists and doctors will now be able to work together to design and implement collaborative agreements to increase access to pharmacists’ patient care services and improve patients’ health.

“We applaud the state legislators in Oregon for recognizing that the future of health care is about access, quality and team-based care, and congratulate the Oregon State Pharmacy Association for their tireless work on this effort,” American Pharmacists Association EVP and CEO Thomas E. Menighan said in response to the move. ”This transformative legislation will improve patients’ access to patient care from pharmacists while also allowing for greater collaboration among health care providers, both of which will result in improved patient outcomes.”

Overt inclusion of pharmacists on the health care team continues to gain momentum across the country, as California and Washington recently passed similar legislation.

In late January, the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act was introduced in both the House of Representatives (H.R. 592) and Senate (S. 314). Passage of this legislation is a critical step in better utilizing pharmacists to positively impact patients and health care. Today, there are 145 bipartisan co-sponsors on the House bill and 19 co-sponsors on the Senate bill.

“APhA and the Patient Access to Pharmacists’ Care Coalition, a coalition of more than 30 organizations representing patients, pharmacists, and pharmacies, as well as other interested stakeholders, urges members of Congress to take steps now to improve Medicare beneficiary access to health care services through pharmacists and their services,” Menighan added. “As highly accessible and educated health care professionals, pharmacists are in a position to improve quality of care and patient outcomes, especially for those patients living in medically underserved areas.”

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CVS Health inks clinical affiliations with four healthcare organizations

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Health has entered into new clinical affiliations with Sutter Health in California, Millennium Physician Group in Florida, Bryan Health Connect in Nebraska and Mount Kisco Medical Group, PC in New York. These new affiliations bring the total number of clinical collaborations for CVS Health and MinuteClinic to nearly 60 major health systems and healthcare providers across the country.

Through these clinical affiliations, CVS Health will provide prescription and visit information to the participating health care organizations by enabling communication between our secured electronic health record systems, which will help enhance clinical care for patients served by the partnering organizations. In addition, patients will continue to have access to clinical support, medication counseling, chronic disease monitoring and wellness programs at CVS/pharmacy stores and MinuteClinic, the retail medical clinic of CVS Health.

"In this era of health care reform, we are pleased to work with these health care organizations to develop collaborative programs that enhance access to patient care, improve health outcomes and lower health care costs in the communities they serve," stated Troyen Brennan, chief medical officer, CVS Health. "By allowing our electronic health records and information systems to communicate and share important information about the patients we collectively serve, we will have a more comprehensive view of our patients, which can aid in health care decision making and help ensure patients adhere to important medications for chronic diseases."

CVS/pharmacy currently has more than 7,800 retail pharmacy locations across the United States where CVS pharmacists provide counseling to patients to help them be adherent to their chronic disease medications. In addition, there are nearly 1,000 MinuteClinic walk-in medical clinics available at CVS/pharmacy retail stores. The clinics are staffed by nurse practitioners and physician assistants who provide treatment for common family illnesses and administer wellness and prevention services, including health condition monitoring for patients with chronic diseases.

Affiliates' health care providers will receive data on interventions conducted by CVS pharmacists to improve medication adherence for their patients. The affiliation also encourages collaboration between the health care providers and MinuteClinic providers to improve coordination of care for patients seen at MinuteClinic locations. Through this collaboration, the affiliate organizations and MinuteClinic practitioners will also work together on planning strategies around chronic care and wellness. If more comprehensive care is needed, patients can follow up with their primary care provider and have access to the services at the health care provider as appropriate. For those patients who do not have regular access to health care, MinuteClinic provides information to help patients in finding a primary care physician and a greater opportunity for continuity of health care services.

MinuteClinic, CVS/pharmacy and the participating healthcare organizations will begin to work toward streamlining and enhancing communication through their EHR systems. This will include the electronic sharing of messages and alerts from CVS/pharmacy to the health care organizations' physicians regarding medication non-adherence issues. In addition, MinuteClinic will electronically share patient visit summaries with the patient's primary care physician when they are part of an affiliate organization and with the patient's consent. MinuteClinic will continue its standard practice of sending patient visit summaries to primary care providers who are not affiliated with one of these participating healthcare organizations via fax or mail, with patient consent.

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FDA issues final guidance on generic drug appearance

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration recently issued its final guidance on the appearance of generic pharmaceuticals, recommending drugs made by generic manufacturers closely mimic the physical attributes, including the size, shape and color, of the drugs they reference.
 
(To view the full Category Review, click here.)
 
"[We] are concerned that differences in physical characteristics (e.g., size and shape of the tablet or capsule) may affect patient compliance and acceptability of medication regimens or could lead to medication errors," FDA wrote in its guidance. "We believe these patient safety concerns are important, and we are recommending that generic drug manufacturers consider physical attributes when they develop quality target product profiles for their generic product candidates."
 
FDA also recommended generic drugs not be larger than any drug already equal to or greater than 17 mm in its largest dimension. Products should also be of a similar shape to the reference drug, and have other physical similarities which make it as easy to swallow as the original. For example, a product's weight, surface area, tablet coating and disintegration time should all be similar.
 
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