PHARMACY

Scope of interactive kiosks continues to evolve

BY Richard Monks

As health-related kiosks continue to gain consumer acceptance, suppliers and retailers are exploring ways of incorporating more of these devices into pharmacy offerings.

(To view the full Category Review, click here.)

Diagnostic kiosks are no longer limited to just a blood-pressure machine in the pharmacy area. As pharmacies become frontline healthcare providers, more are offering patients interactive devices that monitor a wide range of health-related factors, including vision, weight, body mass index, pulse and blood pressure.

The advanced technology behind the newest breed of kiosks allows them to be used as a patient’s personal healthcare library, securely storing data in a private, online account for ongoing reference and progress comparison. Others give users access to a database of local physicians.

Kiosks also are gaining validity from ongoing research and from manufacturers allying with healthcare providers.

Last fall, for example, the Journal of the American Society of Hypertension published the results of a study showing that the blood-pressure measurements of hypertensive adults who used PharmaSmart kiosks in community pharmacies were similar to those taken by ambulatory and automated office methods.

Meanwhile, kiosk-maker Pursuant Health (formerly SoloHealth) recently began using research from Cleveland Clinic Wellness Enterprise to develop a health-and-wellness platform delivered through its kiosks, mobile access points and online.

Winnipeg, Manitoba-based Miraculins recently released the results of a pilot program for its Scout DS diabetes screening kiosk. Partnering with the Canadian chain Lovell Drugs and Pear Healthcare Solutions, the 16-day trial used interactive kiosks to screen patients for prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes, identifying 41% of the more than 350 people screened as being at elevated risk for the conditions.

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PHARMACY

Consolidations impact generic, prescription pricing

BY DSN STAFF

Mergers and acquisitions among pharmaceutical companies has kicked into high gear this year, mirroring the larger trend sweeping across the entire spectrum of the health care industry since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act two years ago.

(To view the full Category Review, click here.)

According to a recent report from S&P Capital IQ, there were $89 billion in healthcare mergers and acquisitions by the end of March, compared with $56 billion during the first quarter of 2014.

The largest of these deals, by far, has been Actavis’ $66 billion takeover of Allergan. Approved by shareholders at both companies in mid-March, the deal creates a global company with projected annual revenues topping $23 billion and a portfolio that includes more than 1,000 generics, branded generics, established brands and over-the-counter medications.

On the other side of the spectrum was AbbVie’s announcement in March that it would pay more than $19 billion to acquire specialty drug maker Pharmacyclics.

Pharmacyclics markets only one drug, the cancer medication Imbruvica. However, analysts said the deal could provide a windfall for AbbVie since Imburvica retails for about $90 per pill and, depending on the types of cancer they have, patients need to take three or four pills a day for the rest of their lives. AbbVie said it expects the drug to record $1.5 billion in sales this year.

As of press time, the latest round of consolidation involved Mylan attempting to purchase Perrigo, while Teva Pharmaceutical offered $40 billion to buy Mylan.

Critics of the recent spate of pharmaceutical company mergers said the shrinking of the supplier pool that is coming from these combined companies is one of a handful of reasons for recent spikes in the price of generic and branded drugs that made 2014 a record year for drug spending.

To a lesser extent, consolidation has had an affect on overall spending. According to the Express Scripts Drug Trend Report released earlier this year, prescription drug spending in the United States increased 13.1% in 2014 — the largest annual increase since 2003.

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Retail clinics benefit operators, their patients

BY Richard Monks

As the country’s healthcare system continues to move away from a fee-for-service structure, retail-based clinics are taking on added significance for the operators of these facilities and their patients.

(To view the full Category Review, click here.)

For consumers, the growing number of clinics across the country promise convenience and affordability. For retailers, they mean increased traffic and the opportunity to position themselves firmly as key players in the nation’s new healthcare system.

According to the Convenient Care Association, over the past decade the number of retail clinics across the country has grown from slightly more than 100 to nearly 1,900. Estimates are that the number will top 3,000 by the end of next year.

As clinics become a viable option for more patients, operators are forming alliances with other healthcare providers to ensure that they are part of a comprehensive care team that helps drive outcomes.

Executives at the retailers who operate clinics say that forging these partnerships has become particularly critical in light of the Obama administration’s announcement earlier this year that by 2018 half of all payments from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to providers will be based on performance and health outcomes. In addition, they noted, a growing number of private insurers are moving in the same direction by contracting with health systems and accredited care organizations to provide a full menu of patient services, including access to pharmacies and their retail clinics.

CVS Health has approximately 50 affiliations with health systems and physicians groups across the country. Walgreens Boots Alliance, which operates more than 400 clinics under the HealthcareClinic name, has developed about 25 such affiliations.

Meanwhile, Rite Aid — which operates clinics under the RediClinic banner — has taken a slightly different approach, forming the Rite Aid Health Alliance, a comprehensive care effort that offers medication-adherence programs, medication reviews and reconciliation, nutrition and weight management services, disease education, exercise coaching, and tobacco-cessation programs. So far, Rite Aid has partnered with seven health systems and ACOs across the country.

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