HEALTH

In push for MTM, Kerr hosts senator

BY Jim Frederick

RALEIGH, N.C. Extending pharmacy’s grassroots outreach to powerful federal lawmakers, Kerr Drug hosted Sen. Kay Hagan for a pharmacy and health center tour that drew praise from the North Carolina democrat.

Hagan toured the patient care area of a Kerr drug store in the company’s home market, and used the opportunity to talk with patients and pharmacists about the value of pharmacy-based clinical care, and to praise the skills of pharmacists in improving patient care and controlling health costs. During her visit, Hagan also promoted the expansion of medication therapy management services to Medicare Part D recipients.

Hagan is a co-sponsor of S.3543, The Medication Therapy Management Expanded Benefits Act of 2010. The bill — a similar version of which has been introduced in the House of Representatives — would expand MTM coverage to any senior suffering from any chronic condition that accounts for high spending in the healthcare system. Hagan also worked to include an MTM provision in the new healthcare-reform bill, creating a grant program to promote MTM services.

“The most effective and cost-efficient way to ensure seniors take their medication properly is through the counseling of a pharmacist,” said the lawmaker during her tour. “The evidence shows pharmacists can improve patient health and save healthcare dollars because pharmacists are often the most accessible healthcare provider for patients.”

Added Kerr chairman and CEO Tony Civello, “We know that for every $1 invested in MTM, overall healthcare costs are reduced by $8 or more. Sen. Hagan understands that value. Pharmacy is evolving to a more patient-centered focus as patients and providers realize the value of pharmacy in improving health care.”

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Weis Markets announces immunization offerings

BY Michael Johnsen

SUNBURY, Pa. Weis Markets on Tuesday announced it would begin offering flu shots in its in-store pharmacies starting this week. The shots will be administered by its trained and certified pharmacist immunizers through the company’s WeisCare Adult Immunization Services program.

“With our certified pharmacist immunizers, it has never been easier to get a flu shot in a Weis Markets’ store; walk-up immunizations are now available in our pharmacies, and we’re also offering our WeisCare Adult Immunization services to businesses and senior centers in the communities that we serve,” Jeff Maltese, Weis Markets’ VP pharmacy, stated.

The shots are available at Weis Markets’ 120 in-store pharmacies and are available to those 18 years of age and older. For most senior citizens, flu shots are covered by Medicare Part B and Part D. Every flu shot recipient also will receive a money-saving coupon booklet valued at $37, the grocer stated.

Weis Markets pharmacies also offer immunization services for pneumonia, shingles, meningitis, tetanus/diptheria/whooping cough and hepatitis A and B per state regulation.

Later in the fall, Weis Markets also will host 65 flu-shot clinics in its stores.

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‘Multifaceted strategies’ can improve medication adherence among patients

BY Alaric DeArment

SAN DIEGO Improving medication adherence will require bringing multiple methods together in order to be successful, Pharmacy Quality Alliance senior director for research and performance measurement David Nau said Tuesday in an education session at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores’ Pharmacy and Technology Conference in San Diego.

 

“You need to have a multifaceted strategy around adherence if you want to have an impact on adherence,” Nau said.

 

 

According to last year’s study by the New England Healthcare Institute, poor medication adherence increases medical costs by up to $290 billion. The estimated one-third of patients who do not take their medications properly fail to do so for a number of reasons, which Nau boiled down to five social-economic, patient-related, therapy-related, condition-related and healthcare system-related factors, including costs of medications, fear of side effects and dependence, complexity of regimens, comorbidities and lack of incentives.

 

 

Complexity of medication regimens can be a particular problem for patients with chronic conditions. According to a study of patients using statins for cardiovascular disease, the average user studied took 11 medications, including nine maintenance medications, and often had to visit multiple pharmacies and had multiple prescribers; 10% of statin users studied took 23 or more medications. But according to another study, conducted by Harvard University and CVS Caremark, patients demonstrated greater adherence when they synchronized their refills and were able to fill all their prescriptions at one pharmacy.

 

 

All these factors mean that combating nonadherence requires a number of different approaches rather than simple interventions, Nau said. “It’s not just about counseling; it’s not just about slashing co-pays — it’s about having a multifaceted strategy,” he said.

 

 

Future trends that could affect adherence include deals between drug companies and pharmacy benefit managers, integration of medication reminders into social networking sites and medication-delivery technologies allowing delivery of multiple drugs in one pill, or implants that automatically administer doses. The last trend already is under way, to an extent, with the introduction of combination drugs for hypertension, such as Novartis’ Tekamlo (aliskiren and amlodipine besylate), which the Food and Drug Administration approved in late August.

 

 

Following Nau’s presentation, Rite Aid director of clinical services Rick Mohall took the stage to show some of the retail pharmacy chain’s adherence programs, such as automatic refills, reminder calls, medication therapy management and the Wellness+ rewards card. “Generally, what’s good for the patient is good for the pharmacy as a business,” Mohall said.

 

 

Both presenters emphasized the role of pharmacists in solving the nonadherence problem, with Nau citing a study from this year showing that physicians are “rather ineffective” in promoting medication adherence. “The greatest intervention tool, the thing that all these things need to point to, is the pharmacist,” Nau said.

 

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