PHARMACY

Proximity, price outweigh technology in consumers’ choice of pharmacies

BY Jim Frederick

DURHAM, N.C. Fully one in three Americans who take prescription medicines have experienced a prescription error or say they know someone who has, a new consumer survey finds.

 The just-released Parata Prescription Safety 2008 poll appears to bolster the case for pharmacy technology vendors, who assert that robotic dispensing technology and other pharmacy technology can greatly reduce medication errors.

More than half of American adults take at least one prescription daily, according to the Parata survey and other reseaerch. However, researchers argue in a report on the results released Thursday, “increased prescription use has not been accompanied by increased consumer vigilance.”

Instead, consumers “readily admit to choosing their pharmacies for speed and convenience, rather than for safe prescription practices” the company reported. Half of those polled cited “proximity to work or home” as the top reason for choosing one pharmacy over another.

The second most cited reason for choosing a particular pharmacy is price, cited by 23 percent of respondents, Parata reported. “Interestingly, a pharmacy’s use of “automated dispensing equipment,” a proven strategy for reducing prescription errors, ranked last in importance, cited by just 2 percent of respondents,” pollsters noted.

The vast majority of prescription-takers [80 percent] spend less than two minutes speaking to their pharmacists when they pick up their medications, according to Parata, and almost half [45 percent] don’t talk to them at all. And while 91 percent of consumers asked could name the doctors who wrote their last prescriptions, only 36 percent could name the pharmacists who filled them, the survey found.

Nevertheless, far more respondents ranked pharmacists as principally responsible for ensuring their prescriptions are accurate than those who said their doctors mostly filled that role, by a margin of 49 percent to 15 percent for doctors.

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PHARMACY

FDA announces safety review of two immunosuppressive drugs

BY Drew Buono

WASHINGTON The Food and Drug Administration issued an early communication today stating that an ongoing safety review is taking place about the immunosuppressive medications CellCept by Roche and Myfortic by Novartis.

The drugs have been linked in safety data provided by Roche to progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, a sometimes fatal disorder that affects the central nervous system.

Roche has recommended including this information in the CellCept label. The active ingredient in CellCept, mycophenolate mofetil, is metabolized by the body to MPA (mycophenolic acid), the active drug ingredient in Myfortic.

The FDA anticipates taking two months to complete its review of the safety data and the proposed revised labeling for CellCept and Myfortic that includes information about PML.

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MyInsuranceExpert.com launches in nine states

BY Drew Buono

BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. A new Web site called MyInsuranceExpert.com helps individuals and families research and purchase insurance policies, according to published reports.

MyInsuranceExpert.com is available in Michigan and eight other states and hopes to expand to 40 states by the end of 2009. So far, he said the site’s biggest business comes from states like Texas and Florida, where there are fewer companies offering insurance to employees.

People go to the site to receive online quotes and ultimately purchase their insurance policy. But the site also has personal, licensed advisers who work with each client to ensure they have the most cost-effective policy possible.

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