PHARMACY

Senate approves equal pharmacy access for military and their families

BY Allison Cerra

ALEXANDRIA, Va. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores issued a letter to a New Jersey senator yesterday for his support in their fight to prevent an increase in co-payments for military beneficiaries.

Senator Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., was thanked for sponsoring an amendment to prohibit increased co-payments to those beneficiaries using retail pharmacies in the TRICARE health benefits program. TRICARE is the military health program that provides care to over 9 million uniformed personnel, their families and retired military worldwide.

“Keeping equal access to chain community pharmacy for our U.S. military and their families is a priority for NACDS,” stated NACDS President and chief executive officer, Steve Anderson, “We applaud Senator Lautenberg’s leadership in introducing the amendment, which shows great support for our nation’s military. We look forward to continuing to work with the Senator and his colleagues to pass H.R. 1585, and continue to develop policy solutions that maximize competition and protect choice for TRICARE beneficiaries.”

The amendment was subsequently adopted as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2008 (H.R. 1585), which is currently being debated in the Senate. The amendment will ensure that TRICARE patients would not be inclined to use mail order rather than local retail pharmacies because of co-payment increase.

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Vector One finds antidepressant scripts for teens fell in last four years

BY Drew Buono

YARDLEY, Pa. Total prescriptions of antidepressant drugs for teenagers age 13 to 17 decreased nearly 18 percent between July 2003 and July 2007, according to Verispan’s Vector One.

On the other hand, antidepressant prescriptions for patients 18 and older have grown about 13 percent during the same four-year period.

Verispan’s Physician Drug & Diagnosis Audit reports that visits by teenagers to physicians for depression decreased 23 percent in the past four years. Visits by teenage males dropped by 5 percent more than females. The percentage of teenage visits to doctors for depression where a prescription was issued dropped from 85 percent in the 12 months ending July 2004 to 69 percent in the 12 months ending July 2007.

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NFID and CDC to spend $5 million on flu information

BY Drew Buono

WASHINGTON The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases and the Centers for Disease Control will spend about $5 million combined to spread the word about obtaining a flu vaccination, according to PRWeek. There will be about 132 million doses of the vaccine for this flu season and these two organizations want to make sure they do not go to waste.

Both realize that the money they’re spending is not a lot, but they hope it’s a start to help prolong the season of vaccinations by months compared to previous years. Previously, the season for vaccinations essentially ended with the Thanksgiving holiday, explained Len Novick, executive director of the NFID. But with the addition of the week’s events, both groups are hoping to better spread awareness efforts deeper into the year and help keep the issue relevant through the New Year. Also, the goal is to spread the word to people who usually do not receive a flu vaccination. This is aimed at hopefully controlling the spread of the virus.

The CDC also plans on working with the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The NFID plans on working with the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, as well as the American Association of Retired Persons.

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