PHARMACY

Orgs look to protect seniors from deceptive online pharmacies

BY David Salazar

WASHINGTON — Three groups are coming together in an effort aimed at helping seniors looking for prescription drugs online. The Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies (ASOP Global), the Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies (CSIP) and the National Consumers league have teamed up to educate seniors and their caregivers about the risks that come with buying prescription medication from illegal or rogue online pharmacies and provide tools to stay safe when shopping online for medication. 
 
“Escalating costs for hundreds of drugs prescribed to treat chronic conditions not necessarily covered fully by Medicare make it more likely that seniors, who often are living on fixed incomes, will turn to the Internet to look for less expensive options,” ASOP global executive director Libby Barney said. “For twelve specialty drugs used to treat cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and Hepatitis C, Medicare Part D enrollees face at least $4,000 and as much as nearly $12,000 in annual out-of-pocket costs in 2016 for one drug alone.”
 
As a result, seniors will turn to the Internet, but according to a review of more than 11,000 websites selling prescription medication to U.S. consumers, about 96% are out of compliance with U.S., laws and 50% of the medication sold are fake or counterfeit, meaning they can include such chemicals as floor wax, mercury, concrete, chalk, road tar and others. Interpol estimates that these counterfeit medications are responsible for as many as 1 million deaths annually worldwide. 
 
“Our research shows that lower prices and convenience of shopping online are the two biggest factors driving consumers to the Internet, making older Americans easy targets for illegal online drug sellers offering ‘too good to be true’ discounts for fake or unapproved versions of the lifesaving medicines they depend on,” CSIF executive director Marjorie Clifton said. “The criminal networks who develop fake websites have become very savvy in creating sites that are difficult to detect by even the most sophisticated consumers and law enforcement. This is why it is imperative that consumers are informed and our organizations are working together to do everything they can to shut down illegitimate sites.”
 
The organizations encourage people to avoid websites that don’t require a valid prescription, sell prescription or medication after the buyer completes an online questionnaire, offer drastically discounted prices, don’t have a licensed pharmacist available to consult, don’t display a physical street address, offer to ship from outside the U.S. and aren’t verified by the National Association of State Boards of Pharmacy. Additionally, consumers are urged to purchase from sites with the top-level domain .pharmacy, which the NASBP verifies. There is also a website, xtherisk.com, that can help verify online pharmacies. 
 
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Boehringer Ingelheim, HealthPrize team on Spiriva Respimat support program

BY David Salazar
RIDGEFIELD, Conn. — Boehringer Ingelheim on Wednesday announced a new online program for patients treating their COPD with the company’s Spiriva Respimat. The program, RespiPoints, is being undertaken in partnership with HealthPrize Technologies. 
 
RespiPpoints provides tools to patients to help improve healthy behaviours, encourage healthy habits and track medication adherence. Enrolled patients can earn points that can be redeemed for e-gift cards through such activities as reporting they took their daily Spiriva Respimat dose, verifying their monthly refill, reading educational materials about COPD and completing weekly quizzes and surveys. 
 
“Boehringer Ingelheim is committed to providing support and resources for patients’ needs beyond our industry-leading six COPD medicines,” Boehringer Ingelheim executive director and head of business innovation Ruchin Kansal said. “We are proud to continue our unwavering commitment to the COPD community with new technology and support services that can help improve patient outcomes. The RespiPoints program is the latest in a series of efforts to empower people living with COPD to better manage their health with tools that are engaging and educational”
 
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NACDS Congressional statement urges provider status, MTM

BY Michael Johnsen
ARLINGTON, Va. –  The National Association of Chain Drug Stores issued a statement Wednesday urging members of the U.S. House of Representatives Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health to focus on policies and innovations that will improve healthcare access and foster healthcare-delivery partnerships by supporting provider status legislation. 
 
“The role pharmacists are playing in healthcare delivery continues to expand. In addition to medication adherence services, pharmacists are on the frontline of providing access to health tests, helping patients manage chronic health conditions and expanding immunization services,” stated Steven Anderson,  NACDS president and CEO. “Expanding access to pharmacist services is a key component to reducing healthcare costs and improving patient outcomes.”
 
As part of its commitment to strengthening and improving Medicare, NACDS asked the Subcommittee to support bipartisan legislation — H.R. 592/S. 314, the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act — which would increase access to pharmacist-provided services to underserved Medicare beneficiaries, within pharmacists’ scope of practice. 
 
The legislation has been cosponsored by more than 65% of the U.S. House of Representatives and 45% of the U.S. Senate.
 
NACDS also voiced support for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation’s Enhanced Medication Therapy Management Model Pilot, which would improve the Part D MTM program by increasing outreach and targeting strategies, and ensuring services are in line with beneficiaries’ needs. NACDS urged the lawmakers to help ensure the inclusion of retail community pharmacists in the pilot program to enhance its potential for success.
 
Because the CMMI Enhanced MTM Model Pilot will begin in 2017, NACDS asked lawmakers to support S. 776, the Medication Therapy Management Empowerment Act of 2015, which would give MTM access to beneficiaries with chronic conditions in the short term before the pilot is implemented.
 
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