RxAlly, Shenandoah University pharmacy school collaborate in pneumococcal vaccination study
LEESBURG, Va. — A Virginia-based pharmacy school will collaborate with an alliance of more than 22,000 pharmacies around the country to find ways to promote and increase pneumococcal vaccinations among elderly and high-risk people.
RxAlly said it had formed a partnership with Shenandoah University’s Bernard J. Dunn School of Pharmacy to collaborate on the program, funded by drug maker Pfizer. Raleigh, N.C.-based Kerr Drug, a member of RxAlly, will participate, along with pharmacy teachers, American Pharmacists Association immunization trainers, an accredited medical education company and an outcomes analytics company called RealCME. The study will focus on people 65 years and older and high-risk patients between 2 years and 64 years with co-morbid conditions. The study will be titled "Improving Patient Immunization Rates through Optimizing Pharmacy’s Role in Providing Immunization Services."
According to 2010 data from the National Health Interview Survey, pneumococcal vaccination rates among those 65 years and older was 59.7%, but 18.5% among high-risk adults ages 19 years to 64 years. In North Carolina, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, less than one-third of 10,205 patients surveyed received the vaccine.
"We couldn’t be more honored and excited to work with Shenandoah University on this important public health initiative," RxAlly CEO Bruce Roberts said. "Studies show the proven value of pharmacists in increasing immunization rates, and this will continue to create awareness of how pharmacy can and does play a major role in improving health outcomes and reducing healthcare costs in our communities."
The study’s objectives are to increase pneumococcal immunization rates among high-risk populations, improve the ability of pharmacists and pharmacy staff to identify candidates for receiving the pneumococcal vaccine, assist pharmacists and pharmacy staff in encouraging awareness of the importance of pneumococcal vaccine administration through direct patient interaction and work with pharmacists and pharmacy staff to increase opportunities to provide immunization-related clinical services.
NCPA study finds 90-day scripts at retail delivered at lower cost than mail-order
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — A newly conducted study of millions of Medicare Part D prescription drug event data has found that community pharmacies provide 90-day medication supplies at lower cost than mail-order pharmacies and that local pharmacists substitute lower-cost generic drugs more often when compared with mail-order pharmacies.
With funding from the National Community Pharmacists Association, Norman Carroll, professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, reviewed PDE records for 2010 that were supplied by the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The analysis found that for 90-day prescriptions filled by local pharmacies, costs per unit of medication, as compared with mail-order pharmacies, were lower for total costs ($0.94 vs. $0.96), Medicare costs ($0.59 vs. $0.63) and all third-party payer costs ($0.64 vs. $0.72). Because of co-pay differentials set by health plans to incentivize mail-order usage, patient costs at retail were higher for patients ($0.31 vs. $0.24 at mail order) even though the total cost of those prescriptions was less at retail, Carroll noted.
Local pharmacies also substituted generic medicines more often than mail order — 91.4% of the time vs. 88.8% at mail order.
"Local community pharmacists not only offer expert medication counseling face-to-face, but they also provide affordable access to prescription drugs and are leading the way in the appropriate use of lower-cost generic drugs," stated NCPA CEO Douglas Hoey. "This study blows a huge hole in the PBMs’ arguments that more mail order is the right prescription for Medicare Part D savings."
With the release of the study, NCPA is advocating that local pharmacies be allowed to fill 90-day prescriptions. According to the association, Medicare Part D drug plans are only required to have some retail pharmacies in their networks provide 90-day supplies. Those plans that rely solely on mail order for 90-day supplies may very well be overpaying for prescription drugs both in terms of total costs and foregone generic drug savings," Hoey said.
NCPA also suggested that separate co-pay tiers that incentivize use of mail order be eliminated.
"[Finally], support patient choice and access to local pharmacies," Hoey said. "They offer additional health services like immunizations and make vital contributions to local jobs and tax revenue."
Safeway pharmacists bridge another gap in care
All over the United States and Canada, retail pharmacy innovators keep stepping up to fill in more of the gaps that separate people from quality, proactive resources for health, wellness and preventive care.
One of the latest examples is Pleasanton, Calif.-based Safeway. In a new and groundbreaking alliance with the University of California San Francisco School of Pharmacy, the 1,641-store supermarket and pharmacy megachain has kicked off a long-term campaign to help its customers quit smoking. As reported by Drug Store News’ Alaric DeArment, Safeway pharmacists will deliver the program, which was developed by UCSF pharmacy school faculty, after being schooled in smoking-cessation counseling techniques.
The pharmacy school’s interim dean, B. Joseph Guglielmo, said the project will give Safeway’s millions of customers “the full patient-care skill set of pharmacists, with a goal of helping customers prevent and manage their chronic medical conditions.”
Pharmacists participating in the venture will include questions about smoking as part of their standard intake screening process for new patients. If those patients do admit to the nicotine habit, they’ll get quit-smoking advice from the pharmacist and a referral to the California Smokers’ Helpline.
The upshot, of course, could be a change in direction to a healthier lifestyle for some Safeway customers, fewer smoking-related diseases and lower long-term health costs. As a side benefit, the program will help cement the professional standing of pharmacists as caregivers and the bonds between patient and practitioner.
Safeway pharmacy leaders want to pilot the program in 20 California stores then begin rolling it out to hundreds of the chain’s pharmacies in the U.S. and Canada.
If you’re a practicing retail pharmacist, please share your own experiences with smoking cessation efforts and other wellness and preventive-health programs you’re participating in. As always, your feedback is appreciated.