PHARMACY

Pharmacists can improve health outcomes

BY Alaric DeArment

A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Minnesota and nearby healthcare institutions shows that patients with diabetes experience better outcomes when they undergo face-to-face medication therapy management sessions with pharmacists.

Drug Store News has reported enough about the benefits of MTM to fill a book, but a scientific study showing a demonstrable benefit of it only makes the case stronger. It speaks to the growing role of the pharmacist as a key member of the patient’s healthcare team, every bit as important as nurses and doctors, and also points to a role of growing importance to pharmacy retailers themselves as they seek to distinguish themselves in the marketplace.

MTM services have a pretty strong track record of helping to improve medication adherence, and with medication nonadherence costing the healthcare system an estimated $290 billion per year, according to the New England Healthcare Institute, it could go a long way toward reducing healthcare costs. A study released in November 2012 found that drug makers lose $188 billion per year from non-adherence, while a Congressional Budget Office study, also from November, found that a 1% increase in the prescriptions filled by Medicare beneficiaries would reduce the program’s spending on medical services by 0.2% by reducing costs in areas such as hospitalizations.

Meanwhile, a study conducted by Virginia Commonwealth University and released Wednesday, found that patients at Thrifty White Pharmacy who participated in the 90-store chain’s medication synchronization program and took their medications correctly were more likely to stay well, make fewer clinic visits and require fewer hospitalizations.

Through MTM and other, similar services, pharmacists can do a lot to make sure patients take their medications, take them properly and get the most out of the therapies prescribed to them. And as a growing body of research shows, their efforts are paying off.

 

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FDA approves new drug for potentially deadly ammonia conditions

BY Alaric DeArment

SILVER SPRING, Md. — The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new drug for treating some disorders that harm the body’s ability to remove ammonia from the blood, the agency said Friday.

The FDA announced the approval of Hyperion Therapeutics’ Ravicti (glycerol phenylbutyrate) for the chronic management of certain urea cycle disorders in patients ages 2 years and older. Normally, when protein is absorbed and broken down by the body, it produces nitrogen as a waste product, which the urea cycle removes through the urine. But in people with UCDs, the nitrogen accumulates in the body as ammonia, which can travel to the brain and cause brain damage, coma or death.

"Ravicti provides another treatment for chronic management of urea cycle disorders, a group of life-threatening conditions," FDA Division of Gastrointestinal and Inborn Errors Products director Donna Griebel said. "The approval of this new therapeutic option demonstrates FDA’s commitment to providing treatments for patients suffering from rare diseases."

The drug is a liquid taken three times a day with meals and is intended for patients whose UCD can’t be managed with a protein-restricted diet or amino acid supplements alone.


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Rite Aid appoints Yong Choe as VP government affairs and public policy

BY Alaric DeArment

Rite Aid on Thursday announced the appointment of Yong Choe as VP federal affairs and public policy. Choe previously served as director of business outreach and member services for the Republican Study Committee, chaired by Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, and worked in various roles in the government affairs division of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores between 2003 and 2010. In his new position, he will report to EVP pharmacy Robert Thompson.

"Yong’s experience in public policy, coupled with his knowledge of the retail pharmacy industry, makes him a true asset to Rite Aid’s government affairs team," Thompson said. "We are excited to have him on board, especially given the ever-changing healthcare landscape and the many new healthcare laws set to take place this year. We look forward to his many contributions as we continue in our mission to deliver a superior experience to our pharmacy customers."

 

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