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Survey: Patients support getting scripts from doctor

BY Jim Frederick

ST. LOUIS

Raising a challenge to the retail pharmacy community, a health care technology and services company allied with physician groups asserts that a majority of patients would just as soon have their newly written prescriptions filled right in the doctor’s office, rather than taking those scripts to their neighborhood pharmacist.

The company, Purkinje, says it found widespread support for the idea of doctor-dispensed prescriptions in a company-sponsored poll of 1,023 U.S. consumers conducted in July by Opinion Research. Pollsters examined consumer attitudes of an FDA-approved service known as in-office medication, or point-of-care dispensing. Purkinje, named for Czech physiologist Jan Evangelista Purkinje, has a customer base of 5,000 physicians in the United States and Canada.

According to a report released by Purkinje last month, 3-out-of-4 Americans surveyed expressed support for the direct distribution by their doctors of pre-packaged medications at the point of care. The findings, Purkinje noted, suggest that “physicians are missing an opportunity to improve patient satisfaction and enhance revenue” by not dispensing medicines right in their offices after prescribing them.

“Overall preference for office-based medication dispensing appears to be driven by the prospect of saving time and improving quality of care,” noted the report. An overwhelming majority of respondents, 84 percent, said such a service would be more convenient, and 62 percent said it would help them better manage their health, according to researchers.

Support for physician dispensing appears highest within households with children, and among younger consumers.

Purkinje noted that the practice of doctor-filled prescriptions is not new, “but recent advances in technology, changes in reimbursement rates and the emergence of patient-centered medicine are each helping to fuel resurgence in point-of-care dispensing.?

“Sophisticated software programs, for example, double check to ensure?patients are receiving the right medicine, cross-check against known?allergies and look for potentially adverse interactions. Medications arrive?in safety-sealed bottles, prepackaged offsite under the supervision of a?licensed pharmacist. Colorful labels explain how and when to take the?medicine,” Purkinje notes.

“More and more, physicians are recognizing that filling prescriptions at the point of care isn?t just good medicine, but that it also improves customer?service and reassures patients,” said Tom Doerr, M.D., chief medical officer for Purkinje.

For chain and independent pharmacies, however, the poll results could mark either a new and worrisome development in the long struggle for recognition and a profitable operating model, or a tempest in a teapot. Pharmacy leaders might find solace in the fact that the survey sponsor, Purkinje, describes itself as a specialist in providing physicians with computer-driven solutions to “save time, maximize income and provide optimal care for their patients.” Its products include software for practice management, electronic health records, billing and what it calls “medication fulfillment.”

What’s more, the findings appear at odds with a wealth of other consumer research data that consistently demonstrate strong loyalty among consumers for community pharmacists, and for the personalized attention and health counseling pharmacists provide.

One recent example: the recently released 2007 Pharmacy Satisfaction Digest from WilsonRx and Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals. Customers polled by Wilson Health Information again ranked independent pharmacy operators highest in overall satisfaction levels because of the additional time independent owner-operators spend on personalized care. And chain drug stores rate highest in number of patient visits.

“Community pharmacists are highly trusted and highly trained medical professionals who advise and assist their patients,” noted Mary Ann Wagner, senior vice president of policy and regulatory affairs for the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, when asked to comment about the report. “They offer a range of health care services, equipment and supplies, often filling health care voids for communities as frequently as they fill prescriptions.

What’s more, Wagner told Drug Store News, “Pharmacists not only dispense medications. They play a critical role in their patients’ health by monitoring potential drug interactions and allergies. If a patient is being treated by more than one health care provider, it would be more difficult to detect harmful drug interactions if the patient is receiving multiple medications from different doctors or pharmacies.”

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Jeffrey Dunn joins American Greetings’ board

BY Doug Desjardins

CLEVELAND American Greetings has appointed Jeffrey Dunn to its board of directors where he’ll fill a vacancy for a term set to expire in 2008. Dunn most recently served as president of Nickelodeon Film Enterprises and as chief operating officer of Nickelodeon Networks Group.

“We are delighted to have Jeff join us,” said chief executive officer Zev Weiss. “American Greetings will benefit from his business acumen and expertise, particularly with regard to digital content and licensing.” Dunn graduated from Harvard and went on to earn an MBA from Harvard Business School.

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FujiFilm Offers Pre-Paid Mailers

BY Doug Desjardins

VALHALLA, N.Y. FujiFilm has debuted pre-paid mailers that make it easier for customers to have their film processed and delivered to their homes. The new program allows customers to buy the pre-paid mailers when they purchase their Fuji film or single-use camera.

“This program offers the consumer value and convenience,” said Rafi Haqqani, senior product manager for one-time-use cameras for Fujifilm. “It brings quality Fujicolor processing right to the consumers’ doorstep with easy-to-use postage-paid mailers.”

The suggested retail price for the pre-paid film mailer is $15.99 and the pre-paid single-use camera mailer is $17.99. Prints come in the standard 4 x 6 size and are mailed back in 7-10 days.

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