HEALTH

Roundtable discusses importance of specialty pharmacy, drugs

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK The subject of specialty pharmacy reached a whole new level of nuance as a wide variety of stakeholders gathered for a roundtable discussion on its role in health care Wednesday at The Chemists’ Club in New York.

The roundtable, titled “Slowing the Impact: The Role of Specialty Pharmacy in Managing Progressive and Chronic Diseases” and moderated by Health Affairs editor-in-chief Susan Dentzer, included perspectives of a pharmacy benefit manager, a healthcare company, a pharmaceutical company, a multiple-sclerosis advocate, an ethicist and an MS patient, all sharing their perspectives on the fast-growing field.

Specialty drugs have grown at a rapid pace over the years. According to AARP, 6-of-the-top-10 drugs in the country are expected to be biologics by 2014, compared with 1-out-of-10 in 2000; and IMS Health predicted that the specialty pharmaceuticals services segment will reach $160 billion by 2013.

“In addition to becoming a unique category of pharmaceuticals, specialty drugs are becoming mainstream,” said Jacqueline Kosecoff, CEO of Prescription Solutions, a PBM and part of UnitedHealth Group.

Another perspective was that of Ken Bandler, a multiple-sclerosis patient diagnosed in 1990, who stressed the importance of accessibility. “There must be an effort to ensure [specialty drugs] are affordable for the patients who take them,” Bandler said, acknowledging the expenses and other challenges that go into developing drugs, which fellow panelist and Bristol-Myers Squibb VP health services for the Americas Ross Maclean had spoken about earlier.

Other panelists included Lee Newcomer, UnitedHealthcare VP oncology in women’s health and genetics; The Hastings Center deputy director and research scholar Nancy Berlinger; and PJ Weiner, senior manager for advocacy programs of the New York City-southern New York chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

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Rite Aid highlights patients’ favorite pharmacists with annual contest

BY Allison Cerra

CAMP HILL, Pa. Rite Aid is asking patients to vote for their favorite pharmacist during the month of October, which is American Pharmacists Month.

Through Oct. 31, Rite Aid patients are encouraged to vote for their favorite pharmacist on RiteAid.com or in any Rite Aid store, an annual contest now in its seventh year. One patient and one pharmacist will each receive $2,500 in Rite Aid gift cards through a random drawing.

“American Pharmacists Month is the perfect time to honor Rite Aid pharmacists for all they do to keep their patients and communities healthy,” said Robert Thompson, Rite Aid EVP pharmacy. “Our pharmacists provide outstanding patient care every day, whether they’re counseling patients on medications, administering immunizations or helping them manage a new or difficult disease. Our Favorite Pharmacist program is a great way for our company and patients to thank them for their hard work and dedication throughout the year.”

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KeyVive seeks to improve medication adherence with SMS system

BY Allison Cerra

PARK CITY, Utah A healthcare technology company that uses social media and self-management tools to help people with chronic illnesses is launching a mobile health technology designed to improve adherence.

KeyVive said that its Simplatype mHealth technology, a new SMS system, utilizes proprietary technology with existing cell phone carriers to provide an effective way for practitioners and patients to communicate, store conversations and integrate with electronic records, the company said.

“Our company’s mission is to provide the best healthcare opportunities to professionals in the industry, allowing people to succeed in managing their disease, saving time and money,” said David Greenholtz, president and co-founder of KeyVive. “Pilot groups are currently being implemented, and we are very excited to see how individuals will use their phones to improve their outcomes.”

For more information, visit KeyVive.com.

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