PHARMACY

PBM trade group enlists Bootman in its new e-Rx advocacy campaign

BY Jim Frederick

WASHINGTON The pharmacy benefit management industry’s leading trade group is accelerating its campaign to drive electronic prescribing, and it’s enlisting the support of a high-profile and highly respected pharmacy educator and practice advocate to help drive home the message.

The Pharmaceutical Care Management Association today announced the launch of a new round of TV advertising to spur the adoption of e-prescribing by the nation’s physicians, who as a group have lagged far behind retail pharmacies in their embrace of e-prescribing technologies. To drive home the message, PCMA is featuring L. Lyle Bootman, dean of the College of Pharmacy at the University of Arizona, in its ads.

Bootman is a vocal advocate of linking physicians and pharmacists through electronic data communications and health information technology, and last year co-chaired an Institute of Medicine committee that recommended that all physicians begin using e-prescribing by 2010 to help reduce the estimated 1.5 million preventable medication errors that occur in the United States annually. “However, fewer than one-in-ten physicians currently use e-prescribing technology,” noted PCMA today.

Bootman also serves as chairman of the recently formed advocacy group Pharmacists for the Protection of Patient Care.

“Thousands of people die every year because of preventable medication errors,” Bootman says in the PCMA spot. “Many of them are America’s seniors.”

According to the IOM, each year some 7,000 people die from medication errors.

Along with the TV ad, PCMA is also running a print ad with the headline: While You Wait. The print advertisement urges Congress to require e-prescribing in Medicare as a solution to the medication-error death rate.

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RPCS to expand $3 generics program to Food Pyramid

BY Allison Cerra

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. A regional, employee-owned company is set to celebrate the successful one-year anniversary of its $3 generic drug program by expanding its services.

RPCS, based in Springfield, Mo., launched its $3 generics program last year at its 20 pharmacies located inside the corporation’s four regional chains: Ramey, Price Cutter, Price Cutter Plus and Smitty’s grocery stores.

For Black Friday this year, the company debuted a similar program at nine pharmacies in Food Pyramid stores in the Tulsa area.

The $3 price applies to specific generic drugs with up to a 30-day supply of commonly prescribed dosages. Quantities over 30 days or above recommended common dosages will be at usual and customary pricing.

Since its launch, RPCS’ pharmacists have filled more than 100,000 prescriptions.

“Senior citizens, as you would imagine, make up a large portion of customers taking advantage of the program,” Larry Storey, pharmacy administrator for RPCS, said. “However, we’ve found that everyone appreciates saving money. We’ve filled $3 generics for people from all walks of life and all age groups. We’ve actually saved the customer anywhere from $5 to $20 for each prescription on the list.”

The top five generics that customers are purchasing on the program are metformin, used to treat diabetes; hydrochlorothiazide, diuretic for cardiac patients; levothyroxine, for thyroid patients; lisinopril, to treat high blood pressure; and amoxicillin, an antibiotic.

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UCB files application with FDA for new pain reliever

BY Allison Cerra

BRUSSELS, Belgium Belgian pharmaceutical group UCB said on Thursday that it has filed a drug application with the Food and Drug Administration for its pain-relieving drug, according to Reuters.

Lacosamide, designed to treat epilepsy and pain associated with diabetic neuropaths, was filed to become an additional therapy in the treatment of partial onset seizures in adults with epilepsy and includes three formulations—tablets, syrup and intravenous injection, UCB said in a statement.

The drug’s proposed trade name is Vimpat.

UCB made a similar filing with the European Medicines Agency earlier this year, Reuters reported. The Belgian company already has blockbuster drug Keppra to treat epilepsy, although patent protection is set to expire in the United States by January 2009 and in Europe in May 2010.

Reuters also reported that the company’s other drug, with the proposed trade name Rikelta, is in Phase III trials to treat epilepsy and genetic epilepsy disorder Unverricht Lundborg Disease, while lacosamide is in Phase II trials for fibromyalgia, migraine prophylaxis and osteoarthritic pain.

UCB had also sought approval from the U.S. authorities for lacosamide to treat adults with diabetic neuropathic pain in tablet formation. The condition is often described as causing patients to feel a stabbing and burning sensation in the legs, feet or hands. Close to 7.7 million Americans suffer from the condition.

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