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Ritzman Pharmacy at NEOMED concept store celebrates two years

BY Michael Johnsen

Ritzman Pharmacy at NEOMED on Monday celebrated the two-year anniversary of the opening of its Pharmacy of the Future that all started with a discussion in 2015 to redefine the patient experience.

“Our patients are pleased with the service and innovation we provide,” Hannah Cross, managing pharmacist and a 2013 NEOMED College of Pharmacy graduate, said. “We are committed to being their pharmacy of choice for their health and wellness needs.”

In celebration, Ritzman Pharmacy launched The Never Quit Collection from their RefreshinQ brand. This new collection contains a Muscle Relief Cream to help relieve joint and muscle pain; Power PaQ, an electrolyte and immune support drink mix; and Workout and Recovery, a pre-packaged daily dose supplement packs to assist both with everyday aches and pains as well as energy depletion.

Ritzman Pharmacy at NEOMED promotes community-oriented, whole-person health by providing access to services that promote better overall health outcomes. Most notably, the pharmacist comes out to talk to patients instead of staying behind the counter to simply fill prescriptions. This consultative approach contributes to a more engaged and impactful patient-centered experience. The Ritzman team also provides wellness educational opportunities.

The partnership between Ritzman Pharmacies and the College of Pharmacy at NEOMED emerged as they shared a common goal of promoting whole-person health and wanting to build a practice site that is patient-centered, community-oriented and pharmacist-accessible.

 

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Walgreens, Good Days cut costs for low-income patients

BY Michael Johnsen

A recent Walgreens Center for Health & Wellbeing Research study showed that a collaboration between the nonprofit foundation Good Days and Walgreens local specialty pharmacies decreased medication copays by between 98% and 100% for low-income patients with complex conditions such as cancer, hepatitis C and rare diseases. In addition, data showed that collaborations between Walgreens and charitable organizations can also help decrease other costs that may inhibit treatment, including premiums and transportation to medical appointments.

“Helping our patients obtain life-extending medication by reducing the financial barrier is a critical step in their care,” Chris Creamer, senior director, Specialty Pharmacy Operations at Deerfield, Ill.-based Walgreens, said.  “Our specialty-trained pharmacists and technicians at our nearly 300 community-based specialty pharmacies throughout the country have a passion for caring for our patients holistically.  Collaborations with organizations like Good Days, ensures [that low-income patients can] afford to start and continue critical treatments.”

“Patient assistance charities provide a financial safety net  to individuals who may not otherwise be able to access the life-saving medication they need. There are many side effects that a patient may experience while taking the prescribed medication, however bankruptcy should not be one of them,” Clorinda Walley, president of Good Days, said. “When there is no cost-effective alternative, a hefty copayment without the support of charitable assistance only discourages necessary care. This research illustrates the needs of individual patients and the benefits of cost-sharing.”

The retrospective study regarding low-income patients won honorable mention in the 2017 PAN CHALLENGE and was published in the American Journal of Managed Care.  This study used a joint pharmacy and foundational database to assess patient outcomes.

Key takeaways included:

  • While the average annual income of patients who received financial assistance was only $20,000, their copay before assistance was as high as $4,200 a year, representing a significant burden on their families;
  • After medication copay financial assistance, patient copays were reduced to between $0 and $51 per year for patients; and
  • The high-cost burden of medications used to treat costly diseases could be reduced if patients were able to take advantage of financial assistance programs offered by non-profit organizations, foundations and pharmaceutical companies.

The article was published in the third annual supplement featuring winning papers from the PAN Challenge, a collaboration between The Patient Access Network Foundation and The American Journal of Managed Care to encourage scholarship that would find new solutions to the challenges of patient access and cost sharing when patients need life-saving therapies.

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WBA maintains W. Va. pharmacy network through Rite Aid transfer

BY Michael Johnsen

West Virginia public employees can continue using their neighborhood Rite Aid drug stores as their in-network pharmacy network after all 103 stores in the state were purchased by Walgreens in February. Under a recent agreement, these Rite Aid stores will remain in-network for West Virginia Public Employees Insurance Agency members as the stores convert to Walgreens pharmacies, Walgreens announced Monday.

“We look forward to welcoming West Virginia Rite Aid customers to Walgreens,” Paul Blankenship, regional vice president, Walgreens, said. “We’ve been a trusted brand since 1901 and we’re proud to serve West Virginia, as we expand our presence through convenient Rite Aid locations in communities across the state.”

In addition, while West Virginia pharmacy customers will see no interruption in service at Rite Aid locations, all 15 Walgreens stores in the state will also join PEIA’s pharmacy network effective April 1.

PEIA’s 160,000 members include state employees, teachers, employees of state colleges, universities and numerous local governmental agencies, as well as their dependents and retirees under age 65.

Nationally, 1,932 Rite Aid drugstores are being acquired by Walgreens. While external signage remains Rite Aid for the time being, stores will be converted to the Walgreens brand in phases over time.

The 15 West Virginia Walgreens stores that join the PEIA network on April 1 are located in Morgantown, Princeton, Beaver, Elkins, Martinsburg, Cross Lanes, Barboursville, Beckley, Huntington, Summersville, Bridgeport, Grafton, Charleston, Hurricane and Charles Town.

Rite Aid last week reported the successful asset transfer of more than 85% of the stores the company is selling to Walgreens Boots Alliance. As of March 2, Rite Aid has transferred 1,651 stores and related assets to WBA, and has received cash proceeds of $3.6 billion.

Rite Aid expects to complete the store transfer process in the spring of 2018.

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