PHARMACY

Study: More research needed to improve patient medication adherence

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — The industry has a lot to learn in order to determine how to most effectively use electronic communications to improve patient medication adherence, as few studies show how health information technology can be leveraged to motivate patients to take medications as prescribed, according to research sponsored by CVS Caremark.

A new study that reviews more than four decades of medical journal articles about the impact of HIT and electronic communications on medication adherence concludes that while there is evidence to suggest that simple electronic reminders are an effective and low-cost means to improve adherence, there are few studies that show how HIT can be leveraged to more thoughtfully engage or motivate patients to take medications as prescribed.

The study was published this week in the American Journal of Managed Care and is the result of a research partnership between Harvard University, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and CVS Caremark — a three-year collaboration focused on developing a better understanding of patient behavior, particularly around medication adherence.

According to the researchers, the study findings "highlight the disappointing state of evidence on a topic of substantial health importance." The researchers concluded that as the United States "invests substantially in the broad implementation of HIT, innovative adherence interventions built on the capabilities of HIT are essential and must be rigorously tested to identify applicable best practices."

Researchers reviewed more than 7,000 articles published between 1966 and 2010 that discussed the use of HIT for treating cardiovascular disease and diabetes. After screening out articles that did not address how electronic communications can promote adherence, only 13 articles warranted full review, according to CVS Caremark.

"These findings show that our industry has a lot to learn in order to determine how we can most effectively use electronic communications to improve patient adherence," stated Troyen Brennan, EVP and chief medical officer of CVS Caremark and an author of the study. "As HIT-based interventions are developed and enhanced, we need to focus on how the interventions will help improve patient behavior related to taking their medications and reduce medical costs in order to justify growing technology expenditures."

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PHARMACY

Assured Pharmacy sees spike in same-store sales

BY Allison Cerra

FRISCO, Texas — Same-store sales for specialty pharmacy group Assured Pharmacy rose 31.2% in November, compared with the year-ago period.

The company said the rise also represented a 6% increase over total sales in October.

"We are pleased with our November sales results and our continued patient growth with 3,182 patients serviced in the month of November," said Robert DelVecchio, Assured Pharmacy CEO. "As these sales figures reflect, we remain on track for increased sales and market share growth, improved earnings at the store level and stronger cash flow."

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PhRMA expands board of directors

BY Allison Cerra

WASHINGTON — The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America has added four new members to its board.

Joining PhRMA are Ian Read, Pfizer’s president and CEO; Jerzy Gruhn, Novo Nordisk president; Mark Iwicki, Sunovion Pharmaceuticals president and COO; and Staffan Schuberg, Lundbeck president.

"We are pleased to welcome four new biopharmaceutical heavyweights to join PhRMA’s board of directors," PhRMA president and CEO John Castellani said. "As leaders of one of the most research-intensive sectors in the United States, they bring to the table incredible insight and a keen understanding of the challenging economic, legislative and regulatory environments the industry faces on a daily basis."

Castellani added, "Despite these challenges, our board of directors has made it a top priority to build upon core patient-centered principles that guide our advocacy efforts as we work to advance public policies that foster medical innovation and help the United States maintain its global leadership in medical discovery. We look forward to working with all our board members to this aim in the months and years ahead."

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