Strong efforts by retail pharmacy to boost offerings pay off
WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT Serving as yet another indicator of the important role that retail pharmacists play in the U.S. healthcare system is the data conducted by Wolters Kluwer revealing that vaccinations jumped by double-digits this flu season.
(THE NEWS: Flu shot distribution by retail pharmacy increases 36%. For the full story, click here)
As the article states, seasonal flu shots administered by pharmacists grew 36% this flu season, capturing about 10% of the total administered nationwide, according to Wolters Kluwer data.
There are several drivers fueling the growth. First, there’s the fact that retail pharmacy — and the retail health clinics they may have in-store — offers patients a convenient solution for immunizations via an expansive network of immunizing pharmacists, nurse practitioners and physician assistants. And not only do many retail pharmacies set up and promote flu clinics, but several retail-based clinic operators have heavily promoted their services.
As previously reported by Drug Store News, both MinuteClinic, which is owned by CVS Caremark, and Take Care Health Systems, which is owned by rival Walgreens, broke new ground in the second half of 2008 with major ad campaigns promoting their service offerings and convenience.
In September 2008, CVS Caremark kicked off its "Flu Shots Made Simple" campaign to bolster awareness of the company’s integrated flu vaccination offering via MinuteClinic locations, pharmacist-administered shots and scheduled flu shot clinics within select stores.
Take Care Health Systems then announced in mid-October of that year the launch of a new multimedia brand and advertising program dubbed "Life Diagnosis." Similar to MinuteClinic’s campaign, the Take Care campaign had a specific focus on cough-cold-flu and coincided with the official start of cold and flu season, and all Take Care clinics beginning to offer flu vaccines.
Clearly, these efforts have helped shore up foot traffic at community pharmacy and retail-based health clinics.
MinuteClinic launches Monitoring Made Easy
WOONSOCKET, R.I. MinuteClinic officially announced the introduction of new health-condition monitoring services for patients with diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and asthma.
The new monitoring services, called Monitoring Made Easy, are available at MinuteClinic locations in CVS/pharmacy stores in 20 states and the District of Columbia. The services, performed by MinuteClinic nurse practitioners and physician assistants, are designed to support patients with ongoing health conditions in between visits to their primary care provider or to provide assistance to patients who may not receive regular care.
“By providing health-condition monitoring at MinuteClinic, our goal is to be a convenient and affordable resource where patients can not only receive an exam and regular lab tests, but also spend meaningful time with a practitioner to obtain advice and have questions about their condition and medication answered,” stated Andrew Sussman, M.D., president of MinuteClinic and SVP/associate chief medical officer of CVS Caremark.
How it works: MinuteClinic will send all health care monitoring results to a primary care provider with patient permission. Visit summaries are sent via electronic medical record or fax, typically within 24 hours. In addition, MinuteClinic practitioners will help patients locate a primary care provider in the community if they do not have one. A collaborating physician (medical director) is on call during MinuteClinic operating hours.
The monitoring services are available seven days a week, including weekday evening hours; no appointment is necessary.
When providing the services, practitioners review the patient’s medical history and perform an exam and tests based on nationally established clinical practice guidelines for standards of care, which may include an a1c test and foot exam for diabetes, breathing and oxygen level testing for asthma, a lipid profile for high cholesterol and a blood pressure check and microalbumin test for high blood pressure.
Most health insurance plans cover MinuteClinic health-condition monitoring services. Self-pay visits start at $62 and patients are informed of additional lab charges at the time of their visit.
A series of blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and weight evaluation screening services also are provided to patients who have not been previously diagnosed with a condition but want to determine if they are at risk.
Teva’s patent for Seasonique upheld
JERUSALEM The U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada has granted Teva Pharmaceutical Industries’ motion for summary judgment concerning the validity of its patent on a birth-control pill, the drug maker announced Thursday.
Duramed, now Teva Women’s Health, brought a patent infringement case against Watson Pharmaceuticals in March 2008 when the latter sought to market its generic version of Seasonique (levonogestrel and ethinyl estradiol) ahead of the expiration of the patent covering the drug, U.S. Patent No. 7,320,969, which expires in January 2024.
“We are pleased with the court’s decision finding our patent to be valid and enforceable,” Teva North America president and CEO William Marth said in a statement. “Seasonique is an important part of our women’s health portfolio and offers women a safe and effective extended-regimen birth-control option.”
Separate patent litigation is pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey over generic versions of Seasonique by Mylan, Famy Care and Lupin.