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Pharmacy First partners with PrescribeWellness on patient engagement solutions

BY Michael Johnsen

 

ALISO VIEJO, Calif. — Pharmacy First, an independent network of community pharmacies, on Tuesday announced their partnership with PrescribeWellness, a company with a cloud-based platform that delivers efficient patient communications and other related services to community pharmacists.
 
The technology of PrescribeWellness brings a unique array of patient engagement solutions to the community pharmacist. This data provides the information and tools for each pharmacy to impact their individual pharmacy Star Ratings.
 
“Healthcare is at a crossroads, and pharmacists are being forced to confront upheavals in their traditional role within the industry,” stated Robert Dickey, CEO Pharmacy First. “Quality networks, outcomes and prevention within a patient centric care model are what all stakeholders in the industry need to focus on. In the coming year, Star Ratings will be an important measurement affecting all pharmacies, and the partnership with PrescribeWellness will provide our independent pharmacies a powerful tool to manage these metrics. It is our goal to assist our pharmacies in improving and retaining the highest level of service, and through our partnership with PrescribeWellness we will be able to achieve this goal.”
 
PrescribeWellness’ software and services are designed to elevate the pharmacist’s role in preventive healthcare services. This allows delivery of more efficient provider services with programs that make it easier for pharmacies to utilize appointment based medication models to lead their patients to improved medication adherence and more effectively manage chronic disease.
 
“The American healthcare system is shifting its focus from sickness to prevention,” commented Al Babbington, president PrescribeWellness, “so it is critical for independent pharmacies to build patient relationships focused on medication adherence and chronic disease management. PrescribeWellness provides the tools for this.”
 

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CVS Health Research Institute examines treatment with new hepatitis C therapies

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — An analysis done by the CVS Health Research Institute provides insights regarding patients taking Sovaldi (sofosbuvir), a new and costly treatment for hepatitis C introduced in December.

The data shows that over the last several months (May through August 2014) there has been a plateau and actual downward trend in Sovaldi utilization. This suggests another surge of patients will begin therapy when a number of new therapeutic regimens of similar efficacy and shorter duration are introduced in the fall.

“Despite the current plateau and decline in Sovaldi utilization, we expect to see another peak in spending for Hepatitis C medications upon the release of the new all-oral treatment,” stated Troyen A. Brennan, chief medical officer of CVS Health. “While the simplicity of the new treatment regimen may help reduce discontinuation rates, careful follow-up such as that provided by pharmacies specializing in Hepatitis C in conjunction with the patient’s physician, is still required to ensure patients are completing their course of therapy and deriving the maximum benefit.”

In clinical trials for Sovaldi, more than 95% of patients achieved cure rates and almost all patients completed therapy, with only about 2% discontinuing treatment. However, clinical trials rarely capture the real-life challenges faced by patients taking a new drug. The new CVS Health data also provides a first look at the drug’s use outside of the clinical trial setting and shows therapy discontinuation rates of 8.1%, approximately four times higher than in trials. Furthermore, patients who were completely new to hepatitis C treatment were more likely to discontinue therapy, a finding that has substantial implications for clinicians and their patients.

“While Sovaldi represents a breakthrough in the treatment of Hepatitis C, this is an expensive drug that needs to be taken as directed for the full course of treatment in order to achieve the maximum clinical benefit demonstrated in the trials,” added Brennan. “Our data suggest that in order to help patients achieve their treatment goals, we need to ensure that those patients who are prescribed Sovaldi are adherent to their full course of therapy.”

The CVS Health Research Institute analyzed discontinuation rates for nearly 2,000 patients managed by CVS/caremark, the CVS Health PBM business, who filled prescriptions for Sovaldi since December. While overall discontinuation rates were around 8%, discontinuation rates for treatment-naïve patients who had not previously been treated for hepatitis C, were the highest at 8.7%. Patients who had been previously treated for hepatitis C, and presumably failed previous therapy, only discontinued therapy 5.3% of the time.

A comparison of patients who received their hepatitis C medications and care from CVS/caremark specialty pharmacy versus those who received their medications and care from pharmacies outside the CVS Health system finds that CVS/caremark specialty pharmacy patients achieved substantially improved adherence. The discontinuation rate for patients who filled their hepatitis C medications at either CVS/pharmacy retail stores or CVS/caremark specialty pharmacies was 5.9%. Patients who filled at channels outside of CVS Health discontinued at a rate of 8.5%.

“These findings reiterate that outside of clinical trials, patients are at a higher risk of not completing their course of therapy, representing a substantial cost to the health care system without achieving the desired clinical benefit,” added Alan Lotvin, EVP of CVS/specialty, CVS Health. “The data also suggest that the type of pharmacy care these patients receive can impact discontinuation rates, with those patients who have access to specialty pharmacies with expertise in managing Hepatitis C such as CVS/caremark specialty pharmacy, seeing improved adherence and outcomes.”

The company stressed that CVS/caremark specialty pharmacy and its Specialty Connect program strives to simplify getting started on therapies for complex conditions such as hepatitis C, and helps patients stay on therapy to support improved health outcomes.  Patients can bring their specialty prescriptions to any CVS/pharmacy location as a complement to existing CVS/caremark specialty pharmacy processes and receive insurance guidance and clinical support by phone from a team of specialty pharmacy experts. The program also makes it easy for patients to access their specialty drugs, whether they choose in-store pickup at CVS/pharmacy stores or receive their medications in the mail.
 

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Family Dollar board recommends against Dollar General tender offer

BY Michael Johnsen

MATTHEWS, N.C. — Family Dollar Stores on Wednesday announced that its board of directors unanimously recommends that Family Dollar’s shareholders reject the unsolicited conditional tender offer made by Dollar General Corp. and not tender its shares. In conjunction with its rejection of Dollar General’s offer, Family Dollar’s board unanimously reaffirms its recommendation in support of the transaction with Dollar Tree. 
 
The terms of the tender offer are the same as those in the proposal made by Dollar General on Sept. 2, which the board of directors of Family Dollar unanimously rejected on Sept. 5, on the basis of antitrust regulatory considerations. 
 
“Our board of directors, with the assistance of outside advisors and consultants, reviewed all aspects of Dollar General’s tender offer and concluded unanimously that this highly conditional Offer is illusory because, as Dollar General is well aware, the Offer cannot close on the terms proposed," stated Howard Levine, chairman and CEO of Family Dollar. "Tenders into the Dollar General offer will be meaningless since there is no way that Dollar General can purchase shares that are tendered," he said. “There is a very real and material risk that the transaction proposed by Dollar General would fail to close, after a lengthy and disruptive review process. Accordingly, our board has rejected Dollar General’s tender offer and reaffirmed its support of the transaction with Dollar Tree, which delivers attractive value in the form of immediate upfront cash and upside participation in a combined Dollar Tree-Family Dollar entity, as well as closing certainty.” 
 
Ed Garden, a Family Dollar director and co-founder and chief investment officer at Trian Fund Management, a large shareholder of the company, stated, “We are focused on delivering to Family Dollar shareholders the highest value with certainty, and the Dollar Tree transaction does just that. Dollar Tree has taken the antitrust risk off the table by committing to divest as many stores as necessary to obtain antitrust clearance. We remain fully committed to the Dollar Tree transaction.” 
 
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