PHARMACY

Potentially big market for adherence apps emerges

BY Alaric DeArment

A new study by IMS Health finds that most apps focused on health and wellness have limited functionality or evidence of value in advancing healthcare provision and outcomes, with fewer than half of them directly related to patient health and treatment, and more than half of them having fewer than 500 downloads.

With more than 43,000 health-and-wellness apps from the Apple App Store alone included in the IMS study, but a dearth of apps for elderly patients with chronic conditions, there is ample opportunity for developers to address this need. That will become especially important as health care becomes increasingly focused on patient outcomes. And this means opportunities for apps that address the ever-present issue of poor medication adherence.

According to the market research firm comScore, 143.3 million people in the United States owned smartphones in September, representing 60% of the mobile market, with Android and Apple devices constituting the majority. This also represents a potentially huge market for apps aimed at patients showing poor adherence — a problem that, according to a widely cited study by the New England Healthcare Institute, costs the healthcare system $290 billion per year. As illustrated in a special report on medication synchronization in the November issue of DSN, some vendors already are developing apps designed to improve connectivity between pharmacists and their patients.

Recently, the American Pharmacists Association listed 11 apps focused on adherence in an article on its website, including five for Apple’s iOS, two for Android and four for both platforms. Meanwhile, a study published in the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association earlier this year identified 160 adherence apps for Apple, Android and Blackberry and concluded that "Despite being untested, medication apps represent a possible strategy that pharmacists can recommend to nonadherent patients and incorporate into their practice."

This is what makes the acquisition of Catalina Health by inVentiv subsidiary Adheris so timely. As the companies said in their announcement, the combination of the two companies gives Adheris "unmatched" reach through a network that includes 30,000 pharmacies and 65% of all retail prescriptions — not to mention the ability to deliver such adherence communications as refill reminders to millions of patients via mobile. 

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PTCB revises certification exam for pharmacy techs

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — Medication safety and pharmacy information systems get more attention in the latest version of an exam for pharmacy technicians.

The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board announced Friday updates to the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam, based on the group’s Job Analysis Study, which involves more than 25,000 pharmacy technicians from across the country and from different practice settings. The updated exam has nine knowledge groups known as domains, rather than three.

"The PTCE is widely recognized and trusted to accurately reflect the current knowledge, skills and abilities required for pharmacy technicians to effectively perform their duties, support pharmacists and advance patient care," PTCB executive director Everett McAllister said. "the Nov. 1 updates in the PTCE are based on our latest study across the community, hospital and federal settings, with an increased focus on patient safety."

 

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New FDA video offers tips for recognizing rogue pharmacies

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — The Food and Drug Administration has released a new video that warns consumers against buying drugs from rogue-internet pharmacies, part of the ongoing effort by the agency to keep fake and contaminated drugs out of the U.S. supply chain.

The video, part of the FDA’s BeSafeRx awareness program, features Gary Coody, the FDA’s health fraud coordinator, highlighting the agency’s efforts to combat fraudulent online pharmacies and offering tips for recognizing them. To date, the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations has arrested and convicted more than 400 people involved with rogue pharmacies and collected more than $178 million in restitution for consumers, Coody says in the video.

While periodic crackdowns have shut down thousands of illegal pharmacy websites in the last few years, it remains a growing problem, and Coody said in the video that new sites can be created in a very short period of time. Earlier this year, the FDA participated in Operation Pangea VI, collaborating with regulators, law enforcement and customs agencies in 99 countries take action against more than 9,600 rogue Internet pharmacies and seize $41.1 million in illegal medicines. The FDA itself seized and shut down 1,677 sites. In response, the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy has developed the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites, or VIPPS accreditation program, which includes the VIPPS seal on websites and inclusion of trustworthy sites on the NABP’s consumer protection website.

The video is below.

 

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