PHARMACY

Pharmacist Society welcomes Rite Aid

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK — Rite Aid “likes” this.

Rite Aid became the first drug store retailer to “friend” Pharmacist Society powered by Drug Store News earlier this month, unlocking a host of new tools and functionalities for its pharmacists, and providing the company an entirely new way of connecting with pharmacy students all across the country.

The pharmacy-professional-only portal (members and their e-mails are screened by a live administrator) at PharmacistSociety.com combines networking, continuing education, employment resources and other core services in a single, regulated-user environment. All pharmacy news and continuing education are syndicated from DSN and DSN Pharmacy Practice, an ACPE-accredited continuing education resource that serves more than 100,000 retail pharmacists.

“We are excited about the opportunities Pharmacist Society presents, as we think the site will offer value and information to pharmacy professionals, pharmacists and pharmacy students,” said Dan Miller, Rite Aid SVP pharmacy operations.

The Pharmacist Society is more than a hybrid social media/professional networking platform, however. In addition to connecting pharmacists with each other, individual companies can establish a presence on the site. For example, an organization can communicate directly with pharmacy professionals who opt in to its page. Organizations also have the ability to create separate, private, “members-only” areas for more internal communications, explained Pharmacist Society creator Ted Search, a pharmacist and president and CEO of Skipta, which has partnered with DSN on the launch of PharmacistSociety.com .

In addition to attracting one of the nation’s leading pharmacy retailers to the site, Pharmacist Society powered by Drug Store News also has captured the interest of several pharmacy schools, including the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy.

And pharmacy students also are eager to interact with potential future employers. “As a student, the biggest value behind a tool like Pharmacist Society is the technological integration of all of the tools that we use as young pharmacy professionals,” said Brian Straub, a Pitt pharmacy student and student president of the Pharmacist Society’s National Student Leaders board, a group comprised entirely of students to help ensure Pharmacist Society remains relevant to students, one of its prime target users. “This is for pharmacists—made by pharmacists,” Straub said. “Not only do we have the connectivity [similar to other networking sites like Facebook], but we also have the clinical tools—the continuing education credits, for example.”

The site already is mobile-ready and is compatible with iPad, iPhone and Android mobile applications, which is critical in terms of connecting with pharmacy students, who have been fast to adopt these new technologies, noted Nick Doherty, co-founder and president of social media for Skipta.

“For years, Rite Aid has led the movement to position pharmacists as healthcare professionals that work closely with patients to improve health outcomes, reduce costs and help people live longer, healthier lives,” said DSN VP and group publisher John Kenlon. “Pharmacist Society gives pharmacists the tools they need to accomplish this critical mission—important information and continuing education on disease states, sharing best practices with fellow pharmacists across the country and keeping up-to-date on the latest products and therapies available to help make a difference in their patients’ lives.”

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NACDS, NCPA claim pharmacy victory after withdrawal of Medicaid program provisions

BY Alaric DeArment

ALEXANDRIA, Va. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the National Community Pharmacists Association heralded the withdrawal of two provisions from the Medicaid program that would have had retail pharmacies selling generic drugs at a loss.

 

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services cut provisions that defined average manufacturer price and determined calculation of federal upper limits. The NACDS and NCPA sued CMS in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in November 2007 to obtain an injunction against the provisions, which the court granted. In response, CMS revised its definition of multiple source drugs in October 2008, though the pharmacy lobby groups amended their lawsuit to block that as well, saying it was still against the law. CMS’ new rule removes that provision as well.

 

 

In a joint statement, NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson and NCPA EVP and CEO Kathleen Jaeger heralded the decision, saying the rule would have reduced patients’ access to pharmacies by cutting reimbursements, thus forcing retail pharmacies to sell generic drugs at a loss.

 

 

“We insisted that this policy was not appropriate,” the statement read. “Separately, we also have urged that policy-makers should recognize the ability of pharmacies and pharmacists to help improve health and reduce healthcare costs. We are gratified that this sense is reflected in the pharmacy provisions of the new healthcare-reform law. The new law contains provisions ranging from dramatically reducing the [accelerated manufacturing of pharmaceutical] cuts to advancing medication therapy management, through which pharmacists can help patients take their medications correctly, which is referred to as ‘medication adherence.’”

 

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Roadside announces partnership to further ‘drive’ wellness programs

BY Alaric DeArment

BOSTON Two companies have formed a partnership to provide services for long-haul truck drivers.

 

Sleep HealthCenters and Roadside Medical Clinic + Lab announced a partnership Wednesday to provide sleep medicine services as part of Roadside’s driver-wellness programs.

 

 

Roadside provides medical services, such as Department of Transportation-compliant physicals, drug testing, driver-wellness programs and sleep services for professional drivers on the highway and at company terminals. Sleep HealthCenters will support Roadside’s programs by providing education, professional diagnosis and treatment support, which will be incorporated into the driver-wellness program.

 

 

“You cannot effectively screen, test and treat sleep apnea without addressing and improving drivers’ overall health condition, such as weight, [body-mass index], stress and cardiac strength,” Roadside COO Rob Scheschareg said. “By providing continuous care for drivers for sleep, fitness, health and [Department of Transportation] compliance from the terminal to the highways, Roadside Medical is able to move the needle toward better driver health.”

 

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